Brad Dacus was thousands of miles away in California last weekend when the Charlottesville protest erupted, so he was flabbergasted when CNN labeled his Pacific Justice Institute a “hate group.” “Here are all the active hate groups where you live,” said the CNN wire story headline on Chicago’s WGN-TV website. The article listed the 917 organizations on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s much-disputed “hate map,” which names racist groups like the Aryan Nation alongside mainstream conservative organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council. Mr. Dacus’ conservative Sacramento-based institute, which specializes in religious-liberty cases, was featured on the CNN list right below the Pacific Coast Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. “Why is the Southern Poverty Law Center doing this? It’s simple. They want to vilify and isolate anyone that doesn’t agree with their very extremist leftist policy and ideology,” said Mr. Dacus. “This isn’t about defending civil rights; this is about attacking civil rights.” Other conservative groups blasted CNN and called on the cable network to retract the article. “I am shocked that CNN would publish such a false report on the heels of the Charlottesville tragedy,” said Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman. “To lump peaceful Christian organizations, which condemn violence and racism, in with the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists is offensive. This is the epitome of fake news and is why people no longer trust the media.” Conservatives have repeatedly called out media outlets this year for uncritically repeating the SPLC’s “hate group” label, calling it inaccurate and arguing that it has put their organizations at risk for violence. It’s not hypothetical. In 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins shot and wounded a Family Research Council security guard and later told authorities that he wanted to kill as many employees as possible after finding the group on the SPLC’s “hate map.” Tom McClusky, former vice president of government affairs at the Family Research Council, took to Twitter to say, “Thanks for the reminder @CNN of this inaccurate map. Last time I saw it one of my friends got hit with a bullet. Real responsible reporting.” Mr. McClusky, now executive director at March for Life Education and Defense Fund, noted in another tweet that “@CNN decides to reprint map that guided shooter to try to kill me & my colleagues because of our view on marriage.” In June, Liberty Counsel sued the charity tracker GuideStar for defamation for adding the SPLC tag to its list of nonprofits. GuideStar later removed the labels from its listings but said the information would be available upon request. “Using the Southern Poverty Center as a source for information shows that CNN is not interested in reporting news but rather creating scandal and security threats,” said Mr. Staver. “It is well known that the SPLC label against peaceful, nonviolent people and organizations has motivated some unhinged people to commit violence. This is no time to exploit the tragedy of Charlottesville.”
The SPLC is a discredited, liberal, agenda-driven, bunch of losers. And, CNN is just a shameless bastion of fake news.