The purpose of this website is to inform the public about the Southern Poverty Law Center. It provides close scrutiny and detailed assessments of the projects, reports, research methods, and ideological orientation of this well-funded non-profit organization — an enterprise which caters to a radical constituency in the pursuit of an aggressive far-left agenda.
Over the years, SPLC has cultivated a refined image among the mass media as an expert source of objective information on fringe group activity on the far-right. News organizations routinely cite SPLC officials for commentary and analysis on alleged far-right developments — notably involving some “hate crime” incident or ostensible increase in “hate group” activity — to bolster preconceived notions of a robust or reenergized movement among the fringes of the extreme right. This commentary as “expert” insight often surfaces in news accounts after some high-profile incident or release of an SPLC report strategically placed among sympathetic journalists in the media elite.
An example of the former is the media coverage in the wake of the Holocaust Museum shooting by lone gunman James von Brunn, who allegedly killed a security guard on June 10, 2009. In the span of a month (June 10-July 10, 2009) U.S. newspapers or wire services published 445 articles on the shooting incident. Among those 445 articles, SPLC was cited or SPLC officials were quoted in 80 of these 445 articles accounting for 18 percent of the total U.S. newspaper and wire service coverage in the first month of news reporting on the Holocaust Museum shooting. Nearly 1 out of 5 articles from these news sources mentioned SPLC (as an authority or cited some SPLC report or official) in the first month of coverage.
Mark Potok, director of publications and editor of SPLC’s Intelligence Report, when interview on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, said:
Well, by our count there are now about 926 hate groups operating out there…. It’s false, for instance, to assume that they’re mostly located in the Deep South. They’re spread across the Midwest, up and down both coasts; they’re very heavy both in Florida and California…. As to the number of people really in these groups, it’s a very hard thing to really estimate well, but I think somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 people in one way or another are involved with these groups is probably pretty close to the truth. [emphasis added]
Potok offered no sources to substantiate his claim about either the number of “hate groups” operating in the U.S. or his random calculation of number of people (“between 100,000 and 200,000 in one way or another”) involved in these “hate groups.” What is the basis of these estimates? What are the sources of these figures? Neither Cooper nor anyone else on the program pressed Potok as to the source of these estimates.
In the wake of the Fort Hood shooting (13 killed and 30 injured by alleged lone gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan), U.S. newspapers and wire services published 2,969 articles on this incident. Despite numerous reports of radical Islamic affiliations or beliefs that likely influenced or prejudiced the mass killings by a Muslim psychiatrist, there is no mention of either the SPLC or SPLC official in any of the 2,969 articles on the Fort Hood incident. Not a single mention or reference in nearly 3,000 articles!
If the intent of the gunman in the Holocaust Museum shooting was instantly ascertained by SPLC officials, extrapolating larger implications of a growing militancy among the far-right fringe and fueling sensational news accounts, such as appeared in the Baltimore Sun on June 18, 2009: “Hate Groups Growing, Aided By Technology; Recruits Driven By Anger Over Immigrants, Election Of Black President,” why has SPLC ignored and declined to comment on the intent of the gunman in the mass killings of the Fort Hood shooting? Why is the one shooting incident considered a crime motivated by hatred but the other incident isn’t? Would an alleged Muslim adherent of radical Islamic beliefs commit such a violent killing spree if hatred was not a motivating factor? Are “hate crimes” simply limited to the actions of white males from far-right fringe groups?
This site examines important inconsistencies, exaggerations, innuendo, dubious ascertains, and research methods by SPLC that the mass media all-too-often overlook or neglect. As a public service, it seeks to inform educated citizens in providing comprehensive analysis of largely ignored aspects of the Southern Poverty Law Center.