Heritage’s Ryan Anderson Spars with Ed Schultz on Indiana’s RFRA; Gets Mic Cut, Told He Needs Counseling

After appearing on Monday’s All In on MSNBC, the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson again ventured into hostile territory by joining the Tuesday edition of The Ed Show to discuss Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Needless to say, liberal host Ed Schultz did not take Anderson’s position and usage of facts very well. 

At various points during the nearly eight-and-a-half-minute segment, Schultz cut Anderson’s microphone, accused him of not wanting to “have a civil conversation,” and declared those who share Anderson’s position on the Indiana law “need to be counseled up in a big way.”

Following opening comments from Schultz and Democratic Indiana State Representative Ed Delaney, Anderson began by stating his agreement with the law and emphasizing that “[t]his law doesn't open the door for discrimination” as federal version has “been on the federal books governing federal law and federal courts for 20 years.”

Schultz then snapped at Anderson and simply denied that what he had said was true since “it does not have the definition of person connected to a corporation.” Citing the Hobby Lobby case and the Federal Dictionary Act, Anderson responded with even more facts:

The Supreme Court held just last term that the definition of person in the federal RFRA includes corporate persons. Most churches are corporate persons. Most charities are corporations. So, the idea that this Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn’t protect corporations really has very little basis in the law. The Federal Dictionary Act, which governs what federal terms mean, under the term person it includes corporate persons and there's no reason why you would think if you're a corporate forum, you can't exercise religion.

With his anger beginning to build, the MSNBC host ruled that “Mr. Ryan, you’re not corporation” but instead only “a human being.” Not to be deterred, Anderson added that “[c]orporations do have rights” and cited howThe New York Times has free press rights” as “[i]t goes not just to each individual reporter, but to the institution” with Schultz’s employer (MSNBC) having those rights as well.

Casting aside everything Anderson said, Schultz ruled that “[w]e are down to the fundamentals here” and attempted to simplify “the position of the right wing” by giving a hypothetical of an Indiana restaurant owner telling gays and lesbians “to get the hell out of here.”

While The Heritage Foundation fellow tried to respond, Schultz’s disdain boiled over and repeatedly referred to Pence as Anderson’s “governor” (even though Anderson is in the Washington D.C. area) and ignored his point that the hypothetical posed by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos to Pence on March 29 “was much more precise than question you’re presenting” as it “involved a wedding cake” and not a restaurant. It was at that point that Schultz cut his microphone:

SCHULTZ: You're not going to let me filibuster. We’re going to have a conversation on this. Mr. Katz –

ANDERSON: You just slandered the governor. You called him a homophobe. I think that’s really inappropriate.

SCHULTZ: Cut his mic off. Cut his mic off. I’m not – I gave him a chance to – we'll bring him back if he wants to be courteous.

Anderson returned later in the segment with Schultz mocking his opinion on RFRA: “Mr. Anderson, if the governor is so correct on this and if you're so correct, why are so many businesses responding the way they are and leaving Indiana, threatening to not do any business in your state? The list is rather lengthy. Are they wrong?”

Allowed to respond without interruption, Anderson declared that large businesses are wrong and “hypocritical” for demanding “the freedom to run their businesses in accordance with their values” while, at the same time, “boycotting a state that has tried to protect the freedom of religious schools, religious charities and religious businesses to run their organizations in accordance with their values."

In closing out the segment, Schultz chided Anderson for making “accusations of slander” even though he wants “to hear all sides” on his program. When Anderson again brought up how Schultz referred to Pence as “a homophobe,” Schultz lost his cool:

ANDERSON: You called a governor a homophobe. I mean –

SCHULTZ: But wait, you’re – well, in my opinion, he is. That is my opinion.

ANDERSON: Well, I mean, that's name calling. 

SCHULTZ: Go to his website. Go – go – I don't care what it is. 

ANDERSON: I’m just saying that the only person who did that was you.

SCHULTZ: The bottom line is you can go to his website in 2000 and you can see exactly what he wrote on his website when he ran for office in 2000 and if you don't think that's discrimination, you need to be counseled up in a big way.

ANDERSON: It’s not discrimination to think that marriage should be between a man and a woman isn’t discrimination. 

SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us, gentlemen. I apologize for the guy from The Heritage Foundation who can’t have a civil conversation. We attempted to do that.

The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s The Ed Show on March 31 can be found below.

MSNBC’s The Ed Show
March 31, 2015
5:09 p.m. Eastern

ED SCHULTZ: Ryan Anderson, how does this law open the way for discrimination? I would imagine you take the position that the governor is doing the right thing. 

HERITAGE FOUNDATION’s RYAN ANDERSON: Oh, of course, he is. This law doesn't open the door for discrimination. This is the law that’s been on the federal books governing federal law and federal courts for 20 years and it governs over 30 states and their laws.

SCHULTZ: But wait a minute. Hold on a second. Wait, wait, that's a – that’s – that’s not true because it –

ANDERSON: It is true. 

SCHULTZ: – it does not have the definition of person connected to a corporation, would you agree? 

ANDERSON: Sure. No, no, it does. I mean, the federal RFRA, as the Supreme Court held --

SCHULTZ: Oh, it does?

ANDERSON: – The Supreme Court held just last term that the definition of person in the federal RFRA includes corporate persons. Most churches are corporate persons. Most charities are corporations. So, the idea that this Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn’t protect corporations really has very little basis in the law. The Federal Dictionary Act, which governs what federal terms mean, under the term person it includes corporate persons and there's no reason why you would think if you're a corporate forum, you can't exercise religion. So, the good thing about this law, like the other –

SCHULTZ: Mr. Ryan, you're not a corporation. You're a human being. 

ANDERSON: Well, I would assume that MSNBC gets –

SCHULTZ: Now, you may work for a corporation, but the rights of – but wait a minute. The rights of you far exceed that of a corporation and this right now, if you connect the two, opens the door for blatant discrimination. 

ANDERSON: That's not true. That's not true and – hold up. 

SCHULTZ: No, it is true. 

ANDERSON: Corporations do have rights. The New York Times has free press rights. It goes not just to each individual reporter, but to the institution. 

SCHULTZ: Okay.

ANDERSON: So, in the same way MSNBC has rights as a journalistic organization in the same way people who form organizations also have their religious liberty rights protected and this is the law for the whole federal government and 30 states. 

SCHULTZ: Mr. Anderson, we're down to the fundamentals here. We are down to the fundamentals here. 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 the hell out of here and you don't think that's discrimination. That's not the position of the right wing, correct? 

ANDERSON: I don’t think that’s the position of the right wing. I don’t know anyone in this debate that [SCHULTZ LAUGHS] is saying – oh please, point to names of people who are saying that restaurant owners should be kicking gays and lesbian people out of restaurants. You’re demagoging us. You called the governor of Indiana a homophobe –

SCHULTZ: Well, that was the question that was put to your governor and he couldn’t answer it.

ANDERSON: No, no, that was the question George Stephanopoulos –

SCHULTZ: No, no, that was the very question that was put to your governor and he denied answering it. 

ANDERSON: But whoa, whoa. First of all, he’s not my governor. He’s not my governor. And whoa, whoa, wait. You just kept slandering the governor. The question that George Stephanopoulos put to the governor was much more precise than question you’re presenting. It involved a wedding cake. It didn’t involve a restaurant.

SCHULTZ: You're not going to let me filibuster. We’re going to have a conversation on this. Mr. Katz –

ANDERSON: You are not going to filibuster. You just slandered the governor. You called him a homophobe. I think that’s really inappropriate.

SCHULTZ: Cut his mic off. Cut his mic off. I’m not – I gave him a chance to – we'll bring him back if he wants to be courteous. 

(....)

SCHULTZ: I want to bring back Mr. Anderson again. Mr. Anderson, if the governor is so correct on this and if you're so correct, why are so many businesses responding the way they are and leaving Indiana, threatening to not do any business in your state? The list is rather lengthy. Are they wrong? 

ANDERSON: Yes, they are. They’re also hypocritical. Those businesses are saying they want the freedom to run their businesses in accordance with their values and so, they're boycotting a state that has tried to protect the freedom of religious schools, religious charities and religious businesses to run their organizations in accordance with their values. 

SCHULTZ: Okay. 

ANDERSON: It’s really hypocritical –

SCHULTZ: So, Tim Cook at Apple is wrong? So, Tim Cook at Apple is wrong?

ANDERSON: Yes. So, I wrote an article about this yesterday. Tim Cook is boycotting the State of Indiana. He has also said that certain Christian apps can't be on the app store. So, if Tim Cook gets to run his business in accordance with his values, why can’t others? 

SCHULTZ: We’ve got Angie's List. We’ve got the NCAA. We’ve got the NFL. We just have a whole bunch of people not understanding what is going on in the State of Indiana. I mean, the list is growing everyday.

ANDERSON: We have big business that is throwing small family businesses under the bus. We want big businesses that are saying, we want rights for ourselves that we're not going to grant to other people, precisely because, look, they get to run their businesses in accordance with their beliefs. Why can't a mom and pop photography shop run their business in accordance with their beliefs? I mean, if there is anyone intolerant in this debate, it seems to be the left. 

SCHULTZ: Alright. We want to hear all sides, even with accusations of slander. I – I’m kind enough to bring you back.

ANDERSON: You called a governor a homophobe. I mean –

SCHULTZ: But wait, you’re – well, in my opinion, he is. That is my opinion.

ANDERSON: Well, I mean, that's name calling. 

SCHULTZ: Go to his website. Go – go – I don't care what it is. 

ANDERSON: I’m just saying that the only person who was uncivil was you.

SCHULTZ: The bottom line is you can go to his website in 2000 and you can see exactly what he wrote on his website when he ran for office in 2000 and if you don't think that's discrimination, you need to be counseled up in a big way.

ANDERSON: It's not discrimination to think that marriage should be between a man and a woman isn’t discrimination. 

SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us, gentlemen. I apologize for the guy from The Heritage Foundation who can’t have a civil conversation. We attempted to do that.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center