NBC & CBS Keep Up Attack on Religious Freedom Laws

After all three network evening newscasts blasted recently passed religious freedom laws in Mississippi and North Carolina Tuesday night, NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning continued hyping “backlash” against the “controversial” measures.

At the top of Today, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: “New state, new controversy. Mississippi now embroiled in a debate over religious freedom and gay rights....other states already announcing boycotts.”

Minutes later, fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie warned: “Meantime, battle lines are being drawn in the south this morning over a new law in Mississippi that allows certain businesses to deny services to same-sex couples. This on the heels of a controversial law in North Carolina that limits bathroom options for transgender people.”

In the report that followed, correspondent Janet Shamlian declared: “With the stroke of his pen, the governor of Mississippi setting in motion a giant controversy that's reverberating across the country this morning. Opponents say the new law legalizes discrimination.”

She allowed a soundbite of Governor Phil Bryant defending the law: “If a baker or photographer says, ‘My deeply held religious views is I cannot participate in a religious ceremony like a wedding,’ the state cannot fine you. It cannot discriminate against someone because of their religious views.”

However, moments later, she touted an openly gay celebrity hurling a juvenile insult at the state: “Former NSYNC singer and Mississippi native Lance Bass posted a sign that reads, ‘Entering Mississippi; Please Turn Your Clocks Back 200 Years.’”

At the end of the segment, she promoted intimidation tactics being used to force the reversal of such measures: “In North Carolina, the latest fallout from a new law limiting protections for gay and transgender people – the loss of a Paypal global operations center....North Carolina is getting hit by a long list, growing every day, of cities and states that are now banning publicly funded travel there.”

On CBS This Morning, co-host Gayle King announced similar efforts:

New York’s governor has banned non-essential state travel to Mississippi because of that state’s so-called religious freedom bill....And The online payment service PayPal is canceling plans to open a new facility in North Carolina, citing the state’s new transgender law. Critics say the measure discriminates against members of the gay, lesbian, and transgender community.     

Here is a full transcript of Shamlian’s April 6 report:

7:00 AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: New state, new controversy. Mississippi now embroiled in a debate over religious freedom and gay rights. The governor signing a law allowing certain groups to refuse service to same-sex couples, other states already announcing boycotts.

7:12 AM ET SEGMENT:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Meantime, battle lines are being drawn in the south this morning over a new law in Mississippi that allows certain businesses to deny services to same-sex couples. This on the heels of a controversial law in North Carolina that limits bathroom options for transgender people. NBC's Janet Shamlian has the latest on this story. Janet, good morning.

JANET SHAMLIAN: Savannah, good morning to you. Reaction has been quick and very vocal here in Mississippi, and that's on both sides. This morning, there is concern and fear over a backlash that companies may end up pulling their business out of the state.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Mississippi’s “Religious Freedom” Backlash; Governor Under Fire After Signing Controversial Bill]

PROTESTER: No hate!

CROWD: In our state!

SHAMLIAN: With the stroke of his pen, the governor of Mississippi setting in motion a giant controversy that's reverberating across the country this morning. Opponents say the new law legalizes discrimination. The governor says it protects religious freedom.

GOV. PHIL BRYANT [R-MS]: If a baker or photographer says, “My deeply held religious views is I cannot participate in a religious ceremony like a wedding,” the state cannot fine you. It cannot discriminate against someone because of their religious views.

SHAMLIAN: Mississippi government employees can now refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, but must find someone else in the office to do it. The ACLU called it “A sad day for the state of Mississippi.” Supporters say it's fair.

FOREST THIGEN [MISSISSIPPI CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY]: There is a constitutional right to the freedom of religion. There is now a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. And this bill strikes the balance.

SHAMLIAN: Former NSYNC singer and Mississippi native Lance Bass posted a sign that reads, “Entering Mississippi; Please Turn Your Clocks Back 200 Years.”

In North Carolina, the latest fallout from a new law limiting protections for gay and transgender people – the loss of a Paypal global operations center. The company deciding to relocate its 400 jobs elsewhere. North Carolina’s governor not phased.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY [R-NC]: I anticipate PayPal will still provide their services and accept our consumer money in the state of North Carolina. So that's my response to that.

SHAMLIAN: But North Carolina is getting hit by a long list, growing every day, of cities and states that are now banning publicly funded travel there. This is turning into a state by state fight. Guys, here in Mississippi, the law goes into effect in July. Matt and Savannah, back to you.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Janet Shamlian, thank you.

NB Daily Culture/Society Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Homosexuality CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Gayle King Matt Lauer Savannah Guthrie Janet Shamlian

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