CBS Applauds Businesses Trying to Intimidate Mississippi Over Religious Freedom Law

After the network spent days attacking both North Carolina and Mississippi for passing religious freedom laws it labeled “discriminatory,” on Thursday, CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King touted “a major corporate backlash” against Mississippi as “executives from GE, Pepsi, Levi Strauss, and other companies sent a letter yesterday to the Governor Phil Bryant condemning the new law...”

In the report that followed, correspondent Mark Strassman promoted one small business owner blasting the measure: “In Jackson, Mississippi, Mitchell Moore owns Campbell's bakery. This Republican says the state's religious freedom law is bad for business.” Moore worried: “...we now have a target on our back and we are going to have to explain to our customers, ‘No, no, we don't agree with the bill.’”

Strassman hastened to add: “And major corporations agree. On Wednesday, nine of them, including General Electric and Hyatt hotels, sent a letter to Mississippi governor Phil Bryant saying they are ‘disappointed to see the legislature and governor's office pass discriminatory legislation.’” As he spoke, an image of the document appeared on screen showing it was written under the letterhead of the left-wing Human Rights Campaign.

Strassman ignored the clear involvement of the liberal advocacy group in stirring the controversy or being responsible for placing that “target” on business owners that Mr. Moore was so concerned about.

Portraying the intimidation tactics from big business as an act of political courage, Strassman noted: “A recent poll indicated nearly two-thirds of Mississippians support the new law. But that isn't stopping national brands from trying to intervene.”

Soundbites ran of San Francisco Chronicle reporter Marissa Lang praising the move:

Companies who have employees who are going to potentially be affected by these laws want to put themselves out there and say, “We are standing up for you,” because it makes them more competitive in the job market....We’ve seen with companies that actually go farther and give their message teeth by saying they’re going to do something to pull out of the state or cancel projects.

Turning to North Carolina, Strassman heralded how the company Paypal “announced it would pull more than 400 jobs” from the state after it “passed similar legislation to Mississippi's.”

While the press has eagerly pointed to Paypal’s action as an example of the “backlash” against such laws, the media have failed to notice the company’s astound hypocrisy on the matter. As detailed by Rick Moran of PJ Media, Paypal does business with numerous countries that criminalize homosexuality. Nations include the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Russia, India, and Malaysia.

Here is a full transcript of Strassmann’s April 7 report:

7:12 AM ET

GAYLE KING: Mississippi faces a major corporate backlash over its so-called religious freedom law this morning. Executives from GE, Pepsi, Levi Strauss, and other companies sent a letter yesterday to the Governor Phil Bryant condemning the new law as discriminatory. Mississippi joins North Carolina in allowing businesses to deny service to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Georgia’s governor last week vetoed a similar bill. Mark Strassmann shows us the escalating fight in Mississippi.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Legal Discrimination?; Companies Demand MS Repeal Religious Freedom Law]

MITCHELL MOORE: I'm here to sell cake, not to judge who to sell it to.

MARK STRASSMANN: In Jackson, Mississippi, Mitchell Moore owns Campbell's bakery. This Republican says the state's religious freedom law is bad for business.

MOORE: The businesses that are affected by it, we now have a target on our back and we are going to have to explain to our customers, “No, no, we don't agree with the bill.”

STRASSMANN: And major corporations agree. On Wednesday, nine of them, including General Electric and Hyatt hotels, sent a letter to Mississippi governor Phil Bryant saying they are “disappointed to see the legislature and governor's office pass discriminatory legislation.” After weeks of protest, Governor Bryant signed the bill into law on Tuesday, allowing businesses and government to deny services to LGBT individuals based on personal religious beliefs. A recent poll indicated nearly two-thirds of Mississippians support the new law. But that isn't stopping national brands from trying to intervene.

MARISSA LANG: Companies who have employees who are going to potentially be affected by these laws want to put themselves out there and say, “We are standing up for you,” because it makes them more competitive in the job market.

STRASSMANN: San Francisco Chronicle tech culture reporter Marissa Lang argues few companies have put their words into action.

LANG: We’ve seen with companies that actually go farther and give their message teeth by saying they’re going to do something to pull out of the state or cancel projects.

STRASSMANN: One of those businesses is PayPal. On Tuesday, the company announced it would pull more than 400 jobs from North Carolina after that state passed similar legislation to Mississippi's.

LANG: Most LGBT activists and groups are really happy to see that this is being taken up as a mantle of the business community, but it's not measurably clear how much of an impact that’s going to have.

STRASSMANN: For CBS This Morning, Mark Strassmann, Atlanta.

NORAH O’DONNELL: And that debate will continue.

NB Daily Culture/Society Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Religion Homosexuality CBS CBS This Morning Video Gayle King Mark Strassmann

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