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CBS takes fire for airing Masters Tournament after efforts to ‘promote’ boycott of Georgia over voter ID law

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ViacomCBS came under fire again this week for airing the prestigious Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga., after encouraging companies and other sports leagues to boycott the state over its new voter ID law.

The network is being criticized as hypocritical by conservatives for airing the tournament after officials with the Augusta National Golf Club rejected calls that CBS supported to move the competition out of the state in protest of the new law, the Washington Times reported Saturday.

“CBS was all too eager to promote the far-left boycott of Georgia, and lobbied businesses to join them,” the Media Research Center tweeted. “Now they’ve dropped all that to air The Masters that they were just days ago encouraging people to boycott.”

“Apparently paying the bills for network is a higher priority for the hypocritical journalists. Or, according to CBS’s own standards… could the network just be afraid to oppose bigotry?” MRC’s Newsbusters, a media fact-checking and analysis organization, noted in a report.

The site noted that “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King used a segment of the show on Thursday to both promote the Masters and a boycott against Georgia.

“[The tournament] begins under a cloud of controversy over Georgia’s restrictive new voting law as we’ve been telling you about all week now. Major League Baseball moved the all-star game out of Atlanta last week in response to the measure,” she said, according to Newsbusters. 

ViacomCBS, that’s us, is one of many companies publicly opposing the voting law,” she added.

“We unequivocally believe in the importance of all Americans having an equal right to vote and oppose the recent Georgia voting rights law or any effort that impedes the ability to exercise this vital constitutional right,” the network said in a statement opposing the legislation.

During a March 31 broadcast, King, who is black, pushed for African American CEOs to join in the boycott of Georgia. 

“Ursula Burns, there was no call for a boycott even though other people are calling for boycotts,” King said to the former CEO of Xerox. “Why was the decision not to go that far?”

She then read a quote from a full-page ad that appeared in The New York Times, King noted, “But they do not call for an outright boycott of the state.”

But on Thursday, King celebrated her network’s historic coverage of the PGA Tour’s most prestigious tournament.

“CBS Sports will broadcast The Masters as it’s done for more than 60 years. That history there,” she said. 

Earlier, the broadcaster took heat for an April 2 article posted online with the initial headline, “3 ways companies can help fight Georgia’s restrictive new voting law.” Citing Mediaite, the WashTimes reported that the headline was changed to, “Activists are now calling on big companies to challenge new voting laws.”

“Oh, why thank you @CBSNews, for your very objective straight news “reporting” on this matter,” former Fox News host and current podcaster Megyn Kelly wrote in response.

After the MLB announced it was pulling the All-Star Game from Atlanta, Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley flatly rejected calls to move the tournament out of the state while still emphasizing that “voting is an essential fundamental right in our society.”

“We realize that views and opinions on this law differ, and there have been calls for boycotts and other punitive measures,” Ridley said. 

“Unfortunately, those actions often impose the greatest burdens on the most vulnerable in our society. And in this case, that includes our friends and neighbors here in Augusta who are the very focus of the positive difference we are trying to make,” he added.

Jon Dougherty

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