Corporate giants opposed Georgia Heartbeat Bill? Fake news via ambiguous reporting
April 3, 2019, LifeSiteNews — Numerous stories have been published about a letter signed by a long list of Hollywood celebrities who are unhappy about the Georgia “Heartbeat Bill” that would protect more children from abortion.
But the same thing can’t be said about a second letter penned by “nearly 90 Georgia business professionals.” While it has also been reported on by multiple news outlets, not a single one has chosen to link to the letter.
Instead, “mainstream” and left-leaning news outlets chose to link to a single story by a local TV station, 11Alive, blaring the headline, “Amazon, Coke execs. send letter opposing 'heartbeat' abortion bill.”
The headline is misleading, but it fits with the preferred narrative of media who want readers to think that big corporations like Coca-Cola — which is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia — and Amazon officially oppose this legislation. They do not.
To make the news sound more ominous, and perhaps more credible, the short 11Alive story included Amazon’s Nasdaq ‘ticker symbol,’ Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), a totally superfluous gesture, unless the station wants readers to falsely believe that the global tech giant stands in opposition to this bill.
All of this amounts to what is at best intellectually incurious, and at worst lying, by otherwise esteemed editors and journalists. It enabled them to launch a version of the party game “telephone” that would result in the snowballing of fake news.
The Washington Post and The New York Times both mentioned how “executives from Coca-Cola, Amazon” had signed the letter. However, there was just one employee from those organizations who were signatories: Jewel Burks describes herself as a manager for Amazon and Terri Julian Polk describes herself as director of brand development for Coca-Cola North America.
The statements are ambiguous, naturally leading readers to think multiple corporate execs were involved.
Perhaps the most egregious news report was posted by The Red & Black, a news source for Georgia college students that took the misleading headline to an extreme, and without investigating the underlying story, published this within a story about the opposition to the Heartbeat bill:
Major companies like Coca-Cola and Amazon have joined a number of other businesses, large and small, in signing a letter to the state legislature in protest of the bill. Actress Alyssa Milano called upon Hollywood to withdraw from Georgia in retaliation, targeting the state’s booming film industry.
The college took the telephone game about as far as it could possibly go. It wasn’t a news story; it was pro-abortion propaganda.
There’s another inaccuracy involved with the original headline and story upon which so much of the news has been based. The letter was not “sent to the General Assembly.” At least if it was, nobody saw it.
LifeSiteNews reached out to the Georgia House Speaker’s office. Spokesperson Kaleb McMichen replied, “Our office has not received such a letter and I haven’t heard of Coca-Cola or Amazon reaching out regarding HB 481.”
Apparently, it was just an “open letter,” albeit an open letter that was mostly hidden from sight.
A representative from Coca-Cola made it clear to LifeSiteNews that the corporate soft drink giant had not taken a position on the Georgia Heartbeat Bill:
The Coca-Cola Company has not taken a position on this legislation as we do not think it is appropriate for us, as a business, to weigh in on the topic. What you may have heard in the media is that an employee who works at Coca-Cola North America signed a letter about the legislation expressing a personal position – not a company position.
Coca-Cola also verified, “We do not contribute to Planned Parenthood.” Yet many media outlets were happy to let you think that Coca-Cola is opposed to the Heartbeat Bill.
Amazon did not reply to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.
The real story: Corporate giants are sitting this battle out
The only media person who provided the public with a copy of the letter was Maya T. Prabhu, a Statehouse reporter with the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), who posted the letter on her Twitter account:
INBOX just now. More than 100 from the business community, including execs, come out against #HB481. As a reminder, yesterday's story here: https://t.co/VnHGHOmKj3 cc: @bluestein #gapol pic.twitter.com/fAjAng0lNH— Maya T. Prabhu (@MayaTPrabhu) March 22, 2019
As it turns out, the Atlanta Journal Constitution is the only outlet that is reporting the real story, which factually refutes what other outlets would have their readers believe.
In a piece titled Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ opponents treat abortion bills differently, the AJC appears to be the only outlet painting an accurate picture of how corporations are choosing to approach the Peach state’s pro-life Heartbeat Bill.
Corporate powers and business boosters voice their outrage each time a “religious liberty” measure surfaces in Georgia. But the same powerful groups have stayed silent about a sweeping anti-abortion proposal that’s generating national attention.. . .
Democrats and other critics of House Bill 481 are questioning why some of the most influential lobbies in Georgia are staying on the sidelines.
It’s night and day from what happened three years ago, when another high-stakes piece of social legislation moved swiftly through the legislature. Back then, a chorus of state leaders and national heavyweights called for its demise.
The Walt Disney Co. threatened to pull its productions from Georgia and the National Football League warned it could risk Atlanta’s bid for the Super Bowl. Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus — a GOP mega-donor — called it “divisive and distracting,” and a bloc of Georgia-based Fortune 500 firms, including Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, SunTrust Banks and UPS, opposed it. ...
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reached out to each of the Georgia-based Fortune 500 companies that opposed a significant religious liberty measure in 2016 to poll them about the anti-abortion bill pending now. Most declined to comment or said they were staying out of the debate. ...
It was also difficult to find local experts who wanted to talk about the politics behind publicly supporting or opposing the anti-abortion measure. Many said the business community probably viewed taking a public stand as a lose-lose situation.
Over the last few years, corporations have been burned by lending their support to extreme pro-abortion and pro-LGBT legislation.
Target has taken a long time to recover from its ill-advised support of North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill,”which allowed men to use restrooms, locker rooms and changing rooms normally designated for women and girls. The effort triggered a nationwide customer backlash.
Based on the ACJ’s reporting, it seems corporations have wisely learned from Target’s experience, but certain members of the media clearly do not want their readers to know that.