(April 3, 2019, Washington, D.C.) — Last month, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) imploded. Its founder, Morris Dees, was fired for “workplace misconduct.” Its president, Richard Cohen, and its legal director, Rhonda Brownstein, were forced to resign. Numerous current and former staffers publicly accused the SPLC of institutional racism and ignoring widespread sexual harassment.

To anyone who has followed the SPLC, these developments were not surprising. A new report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) details a three-decade record of private and public misconduct on the part of the SPLC. A Journalist’s Guide to Understanding the Tactics of the SPLC examines dozens of investigative reports about the group over the past 30 years. These reports, carried out by highly respected journalists and scholars from across the political spectrum, all reach the same conclusions:

  • The SPLC falsely and maliciously labels political opponents as “hate groups.”
     
  • The SPLC uses these designations to raise massive amounts of money, while doing little to combat the “hate” they claim to be fighting.  
     
  • The SPLC leadership has systematically discriminated against minority and women employees, including subjecting them to demeaning behavior.

“Ironically, even as journalists from news outlets as diverse as The Nation and National Review have detailed decades of lies and unethical behavior on the part of the SPLC, others in the media have continued to serve as enablers for this thoroughly discredited organization,” stated Dan Stein, president of FAIR. “As a respected editor of a philanthropy watchdog asked, ‘Why do so many reporters cite the SPLC blacklist as if it were some kind of neutral Consumer Reports guide to what’s intolerable in cultural advocacy?’”

And yet, many media outlets continue to treat the SPLC as an objective arbiter of those whose views are fit to be part of important social and political policy debates. “Reporters have an ethical obligation to make a good faith effort to determine if third party accusations have merit and to determine the motives of the accusers. Many have flatly failed to uphold the ethical canons of their profession,” Stein charged.

A Journalist’s Guide to Understanding the Tactics of the SPLC is available here. The publication includes hyperlinks to dozens of source articles and reports examining various aspects of the SPLC’s operations.

Contact: Matthew Tragesser, 202-328-7004

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