Major League Baseball said Friday it is pulling this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta — just two days after President Biden urged the boycott in response to a new Georgia election law.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the decision to yank the July mid-season classic from Atlanta was made because “MLB fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions at the ballot box.”
Biden told ESPN this week he would “strongly support” bunting the widely watched game out of Atlanta and claimed the new state law heralded the return of racist Jim Crow policies, which Republicans strongly deny.
Biden said Wednesday, “I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing that. People look to them. They are leaders.”
But Republicans said it was outrageous and pointed out that Biden has been awarded “Four Pinocchios” by the Washington Post, which endorsed his candidacy, for spreading misinformation about the new state law.
Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said that the MLB “caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies” and that “Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections.”
Kemp said Manfred “doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about” when it comes to the alleged racism and inequities of the new law.
“You know, they’re referencing no specific points in the legislation. I’m glad to talk through any of those [CEO’s], by the way. You know, it’s the biggest lie that has been out there,” said Kemp.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki found herself on the defensive at her daily press briefing Friday and distanced Biden from the decision, saying he didn’t order MLB to boycott Georgia, but merely said he would like them to.
“He didn’t call for businesses to boycott. Businesses have made that decision themselves, of course. He also was not dictating that Major League Baseball move their game out of Georgia, he was conveying that if that was a decision that was made, that he would certainly support that, and that’s true in the context of the remarks he made in that interview,” Psaki said Friday.
Psaki snapped at a reporter who asked if there should also be a US boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, in protest of human rights abuses.
“I don’t know if you heard the answer, the question and the answer that happened a few minutes ago where we addressed this and I answered the question [about MLB’s decision]. And I give a little more context, but maybe you weren’t paying attention to that part,” Psaki chided.
The Georgia reforms passed by the Republican-held state legislature and signed last week by Kemp impose new rules on absentee voting — including requiring a photo ID and shortening the absentee voting window — in addition to other changes that conservatives say will improve election integrity.
On Wednesday, Atlanta-based Coca Cola’s CEO appeared on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” to oppose the bill’s voting restrictions, after a growing chorus of leftist critics called for a Coke boycott over the company’s silence following the March 25 passage of the bill.
On the same day, Delta’s CEO called the bill “unacceptable” and “based on a lie,” after the Georgia company was criticized for not speaking out harshly against the measure.