ORANGE COUNTY, California—Once again, the mainstream media is demonstrating it doesn’t care about the impact of extremist rhetoric on conservatives.
Never mind that a mere 29 days ago, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., was shot by a violent man, a man whose actions would have resulted in “a massacre,” according to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who was present, were it not for the actions of the Capitol Police.
In fact, the Capitol Police generally would not have been present for a baseball practice among lawmakers, and were in fact only there because Scalise is a member of the GOP House leadership. Never mind that others were also shot and that Scalise was back in the ICU the day after the Fourth of July, battling an infection.
And never mind that the alleged shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, liked the Southern Poverty Law Center on Facebook.
Because this week, the mainstream media are back in force to attacking social conservatives as haters, consequences be damned. And they’re using the “hate group” label produced by the ultra-liberal Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks,” blared an ABC News headline. The first two paragraphs of the “news” story doubled down on the criticism:
Sessions addressed members of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was designated an ‘anti-LGBT hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016 …
Nor is it just ABC News that is irresponsibly painting social conservatives as hateful activists. “Attorney General Jeff Sessions Criticized for Speaking to ‘Hate Group,’” was NBC News’ headline. And here’s the first paragraph:
Democrats and LGBT groups assailed Attorney General Jeff Sessions for an off-camera, closed-door speech Tuesday to an organization designated as a ‘hate group’ by a prominent civil rights watchdog.
So disclosure time: I’m attending this supposed hate group’s conference this week.
And you know what I haven’t heard at all? Hate. And considering how I’ve been in an insane number of conversations, all off the record, it’s clear there is no secret hate agenda here.
(And yes, I’m one of those crazy Christians who thinks it’s a sin to lie … so I’m telling you the truth here.)
Alliance Defending Freedom, for those not familiar with the organization, is a group dedicated to preserving religious freedom. And what I’ve heard over and over again at this conference is people discussing how to keep the United States a country where people can be true to their beliefs, where they are not forced by a tyrannical government to violate their conscience.
Much of the conversation has revolved around Alliance Defending Freedom’s case heading to the Supreme Court next term, a case about whether the state can force someone to use their speech to promote a cause they don’t believe in.
Yes, this particular case is about Jack Phillips, a baker who refused to make a same-sex couple a commitment ceremony cake in 2012 (a time when same-sex marriage wasn’t even legal in his state of Colorado).
But Phillips’ case has implications for anyone who has beliefs, regardless of their views on same-sex marriage.
As Phillips’ lawyer, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Kristen Waggoner, pointed out in a recent appearance on “The View,” no liberal would want to be forced by the government to write speeches for a conservative.
And here’s some facts about Phillips the mainstream media likely won’t be trumpeting.
First, there are many cakes Phillips won’t bake. He wouldn’t do a lewd cake for a bachelor party. He doesn’t do Halloween cakes because of his beliefs. And he also won’t do cakes that include alcohol.
So yes, his faith affects his life in many areas, not just LGBT issues.
And oh yes, he serves LGBT customers, and has no problem doing so. He just doesn’t want to make wedding cakes for them.
How outrageous that Phillips, who sees his cake as art, doesn’t want to use his artistic expression to make something that goes against his beliefs.
After all, it’s hard to imagine the mainstream media losing their minds over, oh, an LGBT activist refusing to make a cake for a Christian church saying marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Or a gun control advocate having to make flyers hawking the NRA. Or a die-hard Hillary Clinton aficionado having to make a photo album celebrating the success of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Now let’s talk about the Southern Poverty Law Center.
First off, the Scalise shooting wasn’t the first time there was a tie between the Southern Poverty Law Center and violence. In 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins II went to the Family Research Council, also called a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, with a gun.
“Corkins—who had chosen the research council as his target after finding it listed as an anti-gay group on the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center—had planned to stride into the building and open fire on the people inside in an effort to kill as many as possible, he told investigators, according to the court documents,” reported CNN in 2013.
Instead, Corkins was stopped by an unarmed security guard, who managed to tackle him (and was shot in the process). Thankfully, no one died.
But just like with the Scalise shooting, people easily could have. Make no mistake: It’s clear both shooters were intending to produce massacres, and only through the brave actions of others were they unable to do so.
Yet the media is now once again using, in ledes and headlines (not say, buried in paragraph 35 of a 38-paragraph story), the “hate group” labels of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
This is insane.
Nor does the Southern Poverty Law Center have some reason to be seen as a credible organization.
In a June 21 letter directed to GuideStar, a nonprofit tracker that was then using the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate group” labels (GuideStar has since removed the labels), dozens of conservative leaders wrote:
The ‘hate group’ list is nothing more than a political weapon targeting people it deems to be its political enemies. The list is ad hoc, partisan, and agenda-driven. The [Southern Poverty Law Center] doesn’t even pretend to identify groups on the political left that engage in ‘hate.’ Mosques or Islamist groups that promote radical speech inciting anti-Semitism and actual violence are not listed by the [Southern Poverty Law Center] even though many have been publicly identified after terrorist attacks. Radical, violent leftist environmentalists or speech suppressing thugs—like the rioting ‘antifa’ movement—receive no mention from the [Southern Poverty Law Center].
(Disclosure: Ed Feulner, president of The Heritage Foundation, the parent organization of The Daily Signal, was one of the letter’s signatories, as was Michael Needham, president of Heritage Action for America.)
Guy Benson, a Fox News contributor who announced in 2015 he was gay, also took issue with media citing the Southern Poverty Law Center as a credible source:
Wow, ADF is not a "hate group." Amazing that media keeps treating SPLC seriously. Extreme bias. https://t.co/R0lFCw8Gr4
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) July 13, 2017
So let’s review. In recent years, two men with connections to the Southern Poverty Law Center have tried to murder many, and both succeeded in wounding one or more people. The Southern Poverty Law Center itself is clearly not an unbiased, credible organization.
Yet the media is citing their labels front and center in coverage.
The mainstream media says again and again they don’t have an agenda. (And I do believe many mainstream media journalists truly believe they don’t.)
But decisions to cite the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate group” labels show they really do have an agenda—and it’s one that isn’t concerned about the well-being and safety of conservatives.