Fox News is not disclosing its clear conflict of interest in defending Chick-fil-A against criticism over the fast-food restaurant's stance on marriage equality, as the controversy stands to benefit HarperCollins, a publishing company owned by Fox News' parent company, News Corporation.
Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy set off a controversy when, during a July 16 interview, he said that his company supports "the biblical definition of the family unit." Cathy later said in a radio interview, "As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' "
Amid calls to boycott the company over the anti-marriage equality remarks, The Jim Henson Company, which created toys for Chick-fil-A, spoke out against the restaurant, writing on Facebook: "[W]e have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD." Chick-fil-A then announced it had pulled the Henson toys, citing safety concerns.
Following the split with The Jim Henson Company, Chick-fil-A replaced the toys with the children's books The Berenstain Bears. As reported by NBC News, a statement on the Berenstain company website "said the books' publisher, HarperCollins, has been working on this marketing project for more than a year." The statement read, in part:
The Berenstain family does not at this time have control over whether this program proceeds or not. We hope those concerned about this issue will direct their comments toward HarperCollins and Chick-fil-A.
While all this has been going on, Fox has been defending Chick-fil-A while not disclosing that it has an interest in doing so. Both Fox and HarperCollins, the publisher of the Berenstain Bears books, are subsidiaries of News Corporation. If the HarperCollins marketing project suffers as a result of a decline in sales brought about by the Chick-fil-A controversy, News Corp. stands to take a hit to its bottom line.
Last week, on the July 26 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox contributor Laura Ingraham defended Chick-fil-A by falsely claiming that "the majority of Americans" oppose same-sex marriage. Neither Ingraham nor O'Reilly mentioned Fox's interest in defending Chick-fil-A.
On Fox News' On the Record yesterday, Fox contributor Sarah Palin said that calling for a Chick-fil-A boycott "has a chilling effect on our first amendment rights." Neither Palin nor host Greta Van Susteren disclosed Fox's interest in defending the restaurant.
Today, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson suggested that opponents of Chick-fil-A's anti-marriage equality stance have "taken it a step too far," adding: "Just because the CEO said that he's in favor of traditional marriage doesn't mean that there's been any discrimination going on at any Chick-fil-As." Again, Fox's interest in defending Chick-fil-A was not mentioned.