Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, on Monday confronted ABC News for labeling the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom as an alleged “hate group,” saying that disagreeing on the issues “isn’t the same as hate.” The network stoked outrage on the right with its July 12 online article headlined, “Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks,” which referred to the designation used by the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center on its “hate map.” “In this country, we have the freedom to disagree. However, disagreement is not the same as discrimination, and it’s not the same as hate,” Mr. Lankford said in the Monday letter to ABC News President James Goldston. “As journalists and members of the government, we have a responsibility to distinguish between the two,” Mr. Lankford said. “Labeling ADF a ‘hate group’ feeds into a narrative that news media frequently editorializes beyond the facts. This ultimately harms American trust in the press.” The ADF has asked for a retraction and an apology from ABC, accusing the network of “journalistic malpractice.” The network has not responded to a request for comment. NBC News ran a similar article July 12 using the “hate group” label. Both news stories appeared after the SPLC issued a July 11 press release titled, “SPLC: Attorney General must release remarks given to anti-LGBT hate group.” SPLC President Richard Cohen defended the “hate group” designation, saying in a statement that the Arizona-based legal foundation “spreads demonizing lies about the LGBT community in this country and seeks to criminalize it abroad.” The ADF has in recent years taken on cases involving Christian small-business owners such as Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman who have been penalized by the government for refusing to provide services for same-sex weddings. Mr. Lankford described the SPLC’s definition of a hate group as “overly broad and not based in fact or legal accuracy.” “I found it odd that ABC would designated ADF as a hate group not based on any actual crime or action, but apparently based on their belief in religious liberty or traditional marriage,” Mr. Lankford said. “Since I think I can confidently assume that ABC News is a strong supporter of the First Amendment, why would ABC News label a peaceful group as a ‘hate group’ simply because of a difference of opinion?” Mr. Sessions spoke July 11 at the ADF’s Summit on Religious Liberty in Dana Point, California, a speech that was barred to the press. The Federalist published his prepared remarks on its website July 13.
The SPLC is throughly discredited, extreme liberal, agenda-driven group of sh_t disturbers that hate Christians and Christian organizations. That’s the bottom line. And yet the dominantly liberal mainstream media continue to use them as a resource. They’re oftentimes on NPR/PBS, CNN, MSNBC, etc. Next time you hear some idiot anchor like Wolf Blitzer say something like, “…the Southern Poverty Law Center”… Just change the channel quick, because what follows will cause a sudden loss in your IQ points.