In a spectacular display of bad journalistic form, Ed Schultz cut the microphone of Heritage Foundation Fellow Ryan Anderson in the midst of a heated debate on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act during The Ed Show on Tuesday night.
As an exasperated Schultz found his back to the wall, he shouted to his producer: “Cut his mic off, cut his mic off! I gave him a chance. We’ll bring him back if he wants to be courteous.”
The discussion had begun with Anderson emphasizing that the Indiana act “doesn’t open the door for discrimination,” noting that a version of the law has “been on the federal books governing federal law and federal courts for 20 years.”
When Schultz insisted that corporations do not have rights, Anderson parried with a flurry of examples of corporate rights, including those of MSNBC as a journalistic enterprise.
Anderson also noted that in its 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal RFRA does apply to corporations. “Most churches are corporate persons, most charities are corporations,” Anderson said. “So the idea that a Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn’t protect corporations really doesn’t have any basis in the law.”
Working up a practical scenario, Schultz said: “If a gay couple walks into a restaurant and I own it, you’re telling me in Indiana if I own that restaurant, I can tell them to get out of here and you don’t think that’s discrimination? That’s not the position of the right wing?”
“Please point to names who are saying restaurant owners should be kicking gay and lesbian people out of restaurants,” Anderson said. “You’re demagoguing!”
Schultz then proceeded to claim that Indiana Governor Mike Pence was unable to respond to this very question, and accused Anderson of filibustering. “You just slandered the governor,” Anderson responded. “You called him a homophobe!”
Waving his finger through the air, Schultz then ordered his producer to cut off his guest’s microphone. “Cut his mic off! Cut his mic off!” he demanded.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome