ABC on Monday continued to assail Indiana's religious freedom law, hyping the "firestorm" over a law that "many" say could "legalize discrimination." Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts trumpeted "growing calls to move the men's Final Four and boycott the state over the new law that many say legalizes discrimination."
George Stephanopoulos saw a "growing firestorm over Indiana's new religious freedom law." He echoed Roberts by explaining, "...Critics are calling for a boycott because they say the new law opens the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians." Reporter Gio Benitez found "outrage over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act is growing."
Benitez parroted his colleagues and underlined, "Critics say it will allow businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of religious freedom." The journalist played clips of Stephanopoulos's This Week interview with Governor Mike Pence.
He also allowed an eight second clip of Indiana business owner Casey Sampson asserting, "One example would be if someone came in here and wanted a belt that said Satan is great, that is not something that we believe in." But this was all that was allowed for opposition.
Instead, Benitez returned to his hyperbolic language and warned that "The firestorm expected to grow..." He outed Apple CEO Tim Cook calling the bill "dangerous" and one that "rationalizes injustice."
Over the weekend, all three networks piled on the law as "opening the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians."
A transcript of the March 30 GMA segment is below:
ROBIN ROBERTS: And happening now, with the biggest basketball games of the year heading to Indiana, growing calls to move the men's Final Four and boycott the state over the new law that many say legalizes discrimination. The governor refusing to back down.
ABC GRAPHIC: Critics Calling for Boycott of Final Four: Firestorm Over Religious Freedom Law
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn now to the growing firestorm over Indiana's new religious freedom law. With the Final Four headed to Indianapolis next weekend, critics are calling for a boycott because they say the new law opens the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians. But the governor told me the law will not change. And ABC's Gio Benitez is covering the story from Indianapolis. Good morning, Gio.
GIO BENITEZ: George, good morning to you. We're at the state capital. This is where protesters have been sounding off. But, the controversy isn't just here. In fact, it seems as if everyone is talking about this issue all across this country overnight. Overnight, Apple CEO Tim Cook calling the law dangerous, "writing these bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear." Outrage over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act is growing. Critics say it will allow businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of religious freedom.
MIKE PENCE: George, look, we're not going to change the law.
BENITEZ: George asked the governor, Sunday, on ABC's This Week, about his stance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think it should be legal in the state of Indiana to discriminate against gays or lesbians?
GOV. MIKE PENCE: George –
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's a yes or no question.
PENCE: Come on. Hoosiers don't believe in discrimination. This is about protecting liberty of every Hoosier of every faith.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes or no, should it be discriminating against gays and lesbians?
PENCE: George, you're following the mantra of the last week online and you're trying to make this issue about something else.
BENITZ: The firestorm expected to grow as thousands of March Madness fans travel to Indianapolis this week for the NCAA's prestigious Final Four, bringing millions of dollars to the local economy. Many calling on the organization to move the Final Four. The NCAA, whose offices are in Indiana, issued a statement saying they are concerned about the legislation: "Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our work force." And internet giant Angie's List cancelling a $40 million expansion project in Indiana. Still, some business owners here like leather worker Casey Sampson say the law protects their religious beliefs.
CASEY SAMPSON (business owner): One example would be if someone came in here and wanted a belt that said Satan is great, that is not something that we believe in.
BENITZ: But that store owner says he will not discriminate against gays and lesbians. Meanwhile, legislators today plan to discuss possible clarifications to that law later this morning. George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's right, Gio. Thanks. You know, the governor said the law isn't going to change but he is open to signing a different law if the General Assembly passed it. It would clarify what the intent of what this religious liberty law is.
ROBERTS: One thing that is clear, supporters on both sides are not backing down from this issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not right now.