Panel on the Politics of Chick fil-A

By Special Report w/Bret Baier, Special Report w/Bret Baier - August 1, 2012

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This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 1, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DAN CATHY, CEO, CHICK-FIL-A: I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, you know, we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. And I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.


BAIER: Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy two weeks ago saying that he supports and his restaurant supports traditional marriage. Well, that set off a firestorm in cities like Chicago, and Boston, and Washington, D.C., those mayors saying that that restaurant is not welcome. Take a listen.


RAHM EMANUEL, D - CHICAGO MAYOR: Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago values. They are not respectful of our residents, our neighbors, and our family members. And if you are going to part of the Chicago community you should reflect the Chicago values.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, today, thousands and thousands of people around the country showed up at Chick-fil-A's. We had pictures of drive-thrus going around the block a couple of times. We have had lines in malls at Chick- fil-A's that went out and around looping around, supporting this organization and supporting this restaurant and really making a political statement. What about this? Let's bring in the panel. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think it simply is astonishing hearing Rahm Emanuel defining according to his political ideas who is welcome and who is not welcome in Chicago. Look, everybody has a right to a boycott. To boycott whatever he wants or to organize a boycott, it's a free country. But once you get government doing it, with the powers of police and taxation, imposing its views on somebody excluding them or punishing them, not for a commission of a crime, which is what government is supposed to do, but because of the expression of a view, that is thought police. That is political repression. There really is no other word for that.

And think about this. What is Dan Cathy saying in his opposition to gays and marriage that is different, that is incongruent with the position that the President of the United States Barack Obama held six months ago on the same issue? He was opposed to gay marriage. Does that mean that for the first three months of the Obama presidency he was a bigot, who was deserving of ostracism and social punishment? And remember, Rahm Emanuel was his chief of chief of staff at the beginning of that, was also on the position -- also supported the position being against gay marriage. I think this is just an astonishing overreach and an abuse of power.

BAIER: Byron, you had the D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray send out a tweet with the hashtag "hate chicken." You have people all over the country reacting one way or another. It seems like it got a lot of attention today.

BYRON YORK, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well it did, and I think that we saw a lot of Chick-fil-A values at Chick-fil-A restaurants all around the country. I think the governmental part of this is just about over. Thomas Menino, the mayor of Boston and Rahm Emanuel are backing down from their positions. The ACLU has come out in favor of Chick-fil-A in the limited issue of a business license, saying that government should not deny a business license to someone because they don't like their social views. So I think that is pretty much over because we have seen enormous amount of support for exactly what Chick-fil-A said.

And by the way the way, there are a lot of businesses whose owners have social views. The head of, the founder just donated $2.5 million to support gay marriage in Washington state. And of course Ben & Jerry's ice cream, famous for having all sorts of political positions. So it's not that unusual. It just hasn't resulted in something like this before.

BAIER: And Juan, this comes with a backdrop of Democrats for the national convention in Charlotte thinking about and probably adding support of gay marriage as a plank to their convention platform. Is that politically risky for Democrats considering what they're seeing today and the fallout from this story?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: No, I don't think it's too politically risky. Clearly, the Democratic base is not alarmed by having gay marriage in the platform. I think it would antagonize people who were in line for Chick-fil-A today, but I think most of those people were making a political statement as you said earlier, Bret, and in line with Governor Mike Huckabee and others, talk show radio show hosts, who have come out and said that as a political matter they support Chick-fil-A and they want to make their support known.

Personally, I got to tell you something, I am a big free speech advocate. I have been punished for saying the wrong thing in my life and career. And I just think that Mr. Cathy has the right to express his point of view. I think that when you -- at this time in America where you have such a massive family breakdown it and so many kids who don't have families, it's an important statement to also say you support family structure of any kind. You're not condemning families where grandma may be raising a child or you know, a cousin, or whatever. I think what he just spoke about marriage in the traditional sense, I think that's what antagonized people like Rahm Emanuel, who felt that he was being very limited, very rigid in his point of view. But I don't care how rigid he is, government has no role in telling Chick-fil-A where they can establish based on the values of their owner. I just think that was wrong. And I think that is why Americans and more and more elected officials now are rejecting that point of view.

BAIER: OK, we will continue to follow it. Panel, as always, thank you very much from Washington. Stay tuned here for some final thoughts from Los Angeles. 

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