After drumming up a media frenzy over Ted Nugent last week, CNN this week is devoting ample coverage to Arizona Senate Bill 1062, in ways that mischaracterize what’s actually in the bill.
The bill, which was approved by the legislature last week and is now waiting for action by Governor Jan Brewer, would allow professionals not to provide services for events they object to for religious reasons. As Brewer decides to sign or veto the bill, the news network has gone to great lengths to try to portray the law as comparable to Jim Crow–era measures.
Defenders of S.B. 1062 reject the claim that the bill effectively legalizes discrimination. Proponents have repeatedly stated — including multiple times on CNN — that the bill does not allow businesses to deny service to someone at an establishment such as a restaurant or coffee shop. The law looks to protect those with religious objections from being compelled to participate in or use their creative expression in circumstances that violate their conscience. Since there is no current law on the issue in the state, lawmakers hope to preempt situations such as bakers and photographers facing legal action for not working a same-sex wedding, as has occurred in neighboring states.
Nonetheless, CNN has continued to impugn and misrepresent the law. Take New Day’s Chris Cuomo’s maligning of Kellie Fiedorek, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, on Monday morning.
In a later appearance, Fiedorek criticized how her earlier interview had been misconstrued. But the network’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin would hear none of it. The law is predicated on “essentially the same” argument used by segregationists, he argued. Anchor Brooke Baldwin effectively endorsed Toobin’s take as she described him as her “go-to legal guy.” As Fiedorek attempted to present counter-arguments, Baldwin said she “didn’t even want to go there” and cut her off.
Brewer is set to make a decision soon, probably rendering moot CNN’s efforts to portray Arizona as what one reporter on the ground in Phoenix called “the crazy state.”
— Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.