For the second time in weeks, an organization has been caught using information from the domestic terror-linked Southern Poverty Law Center to smear a third party.
One lawsuit already has resulted and a second complaint is developing.
WND reported last month Liberty Counsel sued the charity-reporting service GuideStar for featuring SPLC’s “hate” designation on GuideStar’s page for Liberty Counsel.
Now, ABC News has put itself in the crosshairs of the Alliance Defending Freedom with the same stunt – using SPLC’s “hate” label to smear a non-profit.
Get the Whistleblower Magazine’s revelations about SPLC in “The Hate Racket,” the story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis – and rakes in millions doing it.
The ABC story was about Attorney Jeff Sessions speaking at an ADF event. The network, citing SPLC, referred to ADF as “an alleged hate group.”
Kerri Kupec, ADF legal counsel charged: “ABC News has committed journalistic malpractice. For ABC News to essentially cut and paste false charges against Alliance Defending Freedom by a radically left-wing, violence-inciting organization like Southern Poverty Law Center is a discredit to ABC News and to the profession.
“Americans’ trust in media is cratering, and the blatant bias and lack of professionalism that ABC attempted to pass off as news can only serve to confirm and intensify that distrust,” she said.
“Alliance Defending Freedom is one of the most respected and successful Supreme Court advocates in the legal profession, having won seven cases at the high court in the last seven years. Southern Poverty Law Center spends its time and money attacking veterans, nuns, Muslims who oppose terrorism, Catholics, Evangelicals, and anyone else who dares disagree with its far-left ideology. Meanwhile, ADF works every day to preserve and affirm free speech and the free exercise of religion for people from all walks of life and all backgrounds because we believe freedom is for everyone.
“For the sake of its own integrity, ABC News should issue an apology to Alliance Defending Freedom and retract the defamatory story it published Wednesday,” she said.
ABC reported: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech to an alleged hate group at an event closed to reporters on Tuesday night, but the Department of Justice is refusing to reveal what he said.”
ABC’s report, under the bylines of Pete Madden and Erin Galloway, continued, “Sessions addressed members of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was designated an ‘anti-LGBT hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016, at the Summit on Religious Liberty at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, in Dana Point, California.”
The report created a forum for Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., “the first openly gay person to be elected to the U.S. Senate,” to say, “This sends a very troubling message that our attorney general, America’s top law enforcement official, is not committed to standing up to anti-LGBT hate.”
The story continued by citing SPLC’s claims that ADF “specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally.”
‘False and misleading’
Liberty Counsel’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Virginia, asks the court to declare that GuideStar’s publication of SPLC’s “false and misleading” report designating Liberty Counsel as a “hate group” amounted to defamation, violating the Lanham Act, which prohibits false or misleading statements that harm a consumer or business.
GuideStar, which describes itself as the “world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations,” used “the SPLC false and dangerous ‘hate group’ designation by placing its logo and rhetoric, Liberty Counsel said.
The statement on Liberty Counsel’s page says: “This organization was flagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
GuideStar placed the same “hate group” label on 46 nonprofit organizations, including Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Family Association and the Family Research Council .
“GuideStar and its political ally, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), are intent on destroying pro-family organizations. The ‘hate group’ label is false and dangerous,” said Mat Staver, founder of the legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel.
“GuideStar’s CEO, Jacob Harold, is using GuideStar as a weapon to defame, harm, and promote his liberal agenda by using the SPLC to falsely label good nonprofit organizations as ‘hate groups,'” he said.
Staver said the only purpose of “providing the SPLC false and dangerous ‘hate group’ label is to inflict reputational and financial harm to Liberty Counsel.”
“GuideStar has lost all credibility. GuideStar will now have to answer for its reckless, defamatory, and harmful political labeling,” said Staver when that lawsuit was filed.
GuideStar, after 41 of the groups sent a letter regarding the derogatory information, issued a statement and temporarily took down the labels.
But Staver said GuideStar “has not retracted its ‘hate group’ label and continues to provide false, defamatory and harmful information it pushes as fact to the public.”
“The damage by GuideStar is far reaching because this false and defamatory labeling has been spread through scores of media sources and the internet. It also appears on the GuideStar Wikipedia page.”
SPLC cited by domestic terrorists
SPLC has been linked to two Washington, D.C.-area domestic terror incidents, both shootings.
SPLC “admitted James Hodgkinson, the D.C. shooter who gunned down Rep. Steve Scalise, two staff members and two U.S. Capitol Police officers, ‘liked’ the SPLC on Facebook,” Liberty Counsel said.
SPLC previously had contended Scalise “promoted white supremacy and supported a ‘hate group,'” LC noted.
“The SPLC is also linked to the attempted mass murder in the 2012 shooting at the Washington, D.C. office of the Family Research Council (FRC). Floyd Corkins II was stopped by the FRC security guard, who was shot in the process. Corkins confessed to the FBI that he intended to commit mass murder and was motivated by the so-called ‘Hate Map’ on the SPLC website that listed FRC as a ‘hate group,'” Liberty Counsel said.
Liberty Counsel said: “On August 15, 2012, Floyd Corkins went to the Family Research Council with a gun and a bag filled with ammunition and Chick-fil-A sandwiches. His stated purpose was to kill as many employees of the Family Research Council as possible and then to smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their faces (because the founder of the food chain said he believed in marriage as a man and a woman). Fortunately, Mr. Corkins was stopped by the security guard, who was shot in the process. Corkins is now serving time in prison. Mr. Corkins admitted to the court that he learned of the Family Research Council by reading the SPLC’s hate map.”
WND reported a video showed Corkins entering the FRC offices and confronting Leo Johnson.
Corkins later was sentenced to prison for domestic terrorism. It was during an interview with FBI officers that Corkins named SPLC as his source of information.
Central to the case, according to the government’s document, was that Corkins “had identified the FRC as an anti-gay organization on the Southern Poverty Law Center website.”
FRC officials repeatedly have explained that they adhere to a biblical perspective on homosexuality but are not “anti-gay.”
SPLC also exhibited behavior so egregious that it was reprimanded by the far-left administration of Barack Obama.
Judicial Watch, citing a letter to Michael M. Hethmon, senior counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, and others, said the DOJ reprimand came in 2016 but was “kept quiet at the agency’s request.”
“[It] involves the SPLC’s atrocious behavior during immigration court proceedings. Two groups that oppose illegal immigration, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), were the target of personal, baseless and below-the-belt attacks from SPLC attorneys during official immigration court proceedings. The SPLC filed a motion attacking and defaming the two respected nonprofits by describing them as ‘white supremacist,’ ‘eugenicist,’ ‘anti-Semitic,’ and ‘anti-Catholic.’ In its reprimand the DOJ says it is troubled by the conduct of SPLC lawyer Christopher Strawn and that his conduct ‘overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional.’ Furthermore, SPLC made ‘uncivil comments that disparaged FAIR and its staff,’ the rebuke states, adding that the language constitutes frivolous behavior and doesn’t aid in the administration of justice,” Judicial Watch explained.
“The Obama administration kept the reprimand confidential and asked FAIR and IRLI to keep it under wraps. In the meantime, SPLC continues to publicly trash the groups and escalate attacks against them by putting them on the official hate list. The executive director and general counsel of IRLI, Dale Wilcox, says his nonprofit and FAIR will keep fighting for immigration policies that put America first. ‘The SPLC’s latest tactic in its never-ending witch-hunt and the federal government’s resulting reprimand should send the following message to the mainstream media,’ Wilcox said: ‘Stop using the SPLC as a legitimate hate-watch source in your news coverage. That a cabal of biased list-keepers can play such an important role in distorting the immigration debate in this country is testament to the utter failure of much of the mainstream media which frequently publishes their inflammatory commentary and refuses to question their baseless methods or financial motivations,'” Judicial Watch said.
The letter explained the DOJ stopped short of “formal disciplinary proceeding[s],” instead opting for the rebuke in the letter.
“We take this opportunity to remind the attorney practitioners involved in this misconduct that practitioners before EOIR should be striving to be civil and professional in their interactions with each other, the public, the board and immigration courts. Attorneys owe a duty of professionalism to their clients, opposing parties and their counsel, the courts, and the public as a whole.”
Get Whistleblower Magazine’s revelations about SPLC in “The Hate Racket,” the complete story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis – and rakes in millions in the process.