Charles Cooke’s deadpan sarcasm captures the debate over Arizona’s S.B. 1062 perfectly.

Thanks to widespread journalistic deceit, leftist lies and carefully loaded phrasing, the “debate” was consumed by dishonesty, ignorance and misrepresentations of proposed changes to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “Jim Crow” and “anti-gay” were the phrases of the week on many news programs.


According to many headlines, anti-gay Gov. Jan Brewer was considering anti-gay legislation by anti-gay politicians plotting nefarious anti-gay anti-gayness. Some of the headlines after Brewer vetoed the bill:

And by the way, while cases involving religious freedom and same-sex marriage were certainly on the minds of those who drafted S.B. 1062, the word “gay” didn’t appear in the bill.

Not that you’d know that from our oh-so-esteemed media. And funny, this didn’t get much headline love:

Jedediah Bila shares another discussion of whether the bill would have codified a “new license to discriminate.”

National Review editor Rich Lowry also tackled the misinformation about the bill in this Politico Magazine piece.

There are many Americans who support religious protections and worried the Arizona bill was poorly-designed. Was the bill too broad? Too vague? Was it likely to have unintended consequences? What would constitute a “substantial burden” on the free exercise of religion?

Those would be reasonable questions in a fair, informed debate. But instead, thousands of column inches were devoted to demonizing Americans concerned about religious freedom as “anti-gay” bigots. A mob composed of ignorant parrots and willfully deceitful tools skewed the debate, aided by media malfeasance.

Whatever flaws might have existed in the bill, all most Americans heard was “it’s bad because shut up, homophobe.”

Headlines and narratives do make a difference. And the media know that all too well.