Republican Michael Williams started his appearance on CNN by trumpeting his opposition to a tax break for Delta Air Lines. He ended it with a prolonged back-and-forth with host Brianna Keilar about his claim the airline was giving discounts to an abortion rights group.
Williams, a candidate for governor, was stopped short by Keilar after he asserted that if Delta was going to end a discount program for National Rifle Association members then “why not pull it for Planned Parenthood?”
Keilar stepped in: “Where are you getting that? ... I’ve seen allegations of that on right-wing blogs, but I’ve seen no verification of that.”
Williams responded that Gov. Nathan Deal was “threatening” state lawmakers at a private caucus meeting to pass the bill or risk funding from the state budget. Then he said he and other senators “looked it up on Google” and that his campaign would provide her the details.
Keilar pressed again: “You’re indicating something that may not be true.”
Williams: “I believe very firmly that Delta is out there giving discounts to left-leaning organizations as well. And if they’re going to take it away from the NRA, why not take it away from left-leaning organizations.”
Keilar: “But if you’re making that argument, shouldn’t you have your facts straight?”
Williams struggled to answer, finally saying we will “agree to disagree.” He pledged to send her the details of his claim.
A few hours later, Keilar tweeted to Williams saying “you and your staff have ignored” multiple requests from CNN for the info. “Will you keep your word?” she asked.
He responded late Wednesday by claiming that Keilar ignored his repeated attempts “to discuss my source for this claim on air.”
He also incorrectly asserted that the airline partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a breast cancer charity which partners with Planned Parenthood. The foundation said it had no partnership with Delta.
Williams, meanwhile, was bumped from another scheduled appearance on CNN late Tuesday to make way for breaking news.
Watch the full exchange here:
Read more recent AJC coverage on the Delta tax break:
On Delta, the NRA, and a troubling climate for an Amazon bidWhite House sidesteps Georgia’s Delta-NRA fight
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.