Want to know just how crazy the culture war over the fast food chain Chick-fil-A has gotten in recent days? It wasn’t quite Chick-fil-A meets OJ. But it was close.
For a decent chunk of the Wednesday lunch hour in Arizona, local television station KTVK dispatched a helicopter to broadcast live shots of conservatives lining up outside of Phoenix-area Chick-fil-A franchise locations to support the company’s stance against gay marriage.
The station streamed the footage online and told its Twitter followers to “watch LIVE.” Just like with a high speed car chase, the eternal staple of local television news, a viewer could hear the high hum of the chopper and occasional radio dispatches from the pilot telling the station where the aircraft was headed next. On the ground, customers waved up at the chopper. Some showed off handmade signs of support for the chain.
But KTVK wasn’t the only one going wild for what former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared as national “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” TV stations throughout the U.S. clamored to cover the battle between social conservatives and backers of gay rights, who have taken their respective battle stances over comments by the chain’s president saying he supports marriage only between a man and a woman.
Louisville, Ky., station WHAS also sent a helicopter to film the lines outside multiple locations in the area. “Apparently Chick-fil-A was the most popular lunch spot in Kentuckiana,” a WHAS anchor said during an afternoon newscast. “And believe us, folks, that’s an understatement.”
FOX News, where Huckabee hosts a show on Saturdays, also got in on the action, showing its own helicopter footage of Chick-fil-A locations in an unidentified city somewhere in the U.S.
On the ground in Pennsylvania, Slate reporter Dave Weigel, who was covering the state’s voter ID hearings, noted on his Twitter account the wall-to-wall coverage he witnessed.
“Not one but two local TV crews at Chick-fil-A right now,” Weigel wrote. “They were not at the #PAVoterID hearing today. But that was a 15 minute drive…”
Here’s some footage from KTVK’s livestream that TPM’s Clayton Ashley captured on Wednesday afternoon:
Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him: nick [at] talkingpointsmemo.com