News & Politics

Pro-Family Groups Warn Big Tech, Media Not to Prop Up the SPLC 'Hate-for-Cash Machine'

The 2018 SPLC hate map.

On Wednesday, the American Family Association (AFA) and the Family Research Council (FRC) ran a half-page ad in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), pressing Big Tech and media companies to stop relying on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) “hate group” accusations.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), founded as a civil rights advocacy organization, has lost its way,” the ad begins. “The bigotry and racial discrimination described by its former employees is evidence of the SPLC’s hypocrisy. The SPLC has become a hate-for-cash machine that has weaponized its hate labeling of groups and individual people.”

“As SPLC collected hundreds of millions in donations, it expanded its definition of ‘hate’ to non-violent conservative, Christians, and parent organizations who opposed the SPLC’s political agenda,” the WSJ ad continues. “Now, the SPLC’s hate-for-cash machine has been described by within as a ‘highly profitable scam.’ Its founder Morris Dees was fired, its president Richard Cohen has resigned, and its top lawyer departed as the scandal spread.”

Indeed, in recent months, allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination have hollowed out the organization’s leadership. The revelation that the SPLC’s “hate group” accusations are a marketing scam has encouraged more than 60 organizations to consider defamation lawsuits against the far-left smear factory, and that revelation will make a defamation case easier to prove in court. This “hate-for-cash machine” is very vulnerable to legal actions.

Earlier this month, AFA and FRC joined the 67 nonprofit leaders urging the media to drop the “anti-Christian and morally bankrupt” organization. The WSJ ad targets Spotify, MSNBC, CNN, YouTube, Amazon, and PayPal in the business newspaper.

“Those who use SPLC as their authority on hate and extremism should stop immediately,” the ad concludes. “A bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Will corporations and media outlets continue to align themselves to an organization that its own employees say is racist, bigoted, and rife with sexual misconduct and discrimination? If so, their partnership can only produce rotten fruit.”

The SPLC has falsely accused both AFA and FRC of being “hate groups.” Megan Meier, a partner at Clare Locke, the law firm that represented Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz in his successful defamation lawsuit against the smear factory, explained just how damaging this accusation can be.

“The SPLC’s ‘hate group’ accusation is a financial and reputational death sentence, effectively equating organizations to the KKK,” Meier told PJ Media last week. “No right-thinking person wants to be associated with the KKK, so the SPLC’s ‘hate group’ accusation is incredibly effective at shaming organizations and causing them to be shunned by donors, fundraising platforms, service providers, the media, and others. Shaming and shunning are hallmarks of what makes a statement ‘defamatory’ under the common law.”

Indeed, as the WSJ ad quoted, an SPLC spokesman admitted that “our aim in life is to destroy these groups, completely destroy them.”

The far-left smear factory almost achieved that goal in 2012, when its “hate group” accusation inspired an attack against FRC, when a terrorist broke in, intending to shoot everyone in the building and place a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich by their heads.

The SPLC accuses both organizations of being “hate groups” because they advocate for conservative Christian principles that conflict with the smear factory’s LGBT activism. On its web page accusing AFA of being a “hate group,” the smear factory lists a quote from an AFA spokesman that the organization later denounced, in demoting the spokesman. SPLC makes no note about the AFA’s denunciation or the spokesman’s demotion, instead suggesting the horrific quote still represents the group.

Such tactics are commonplace with the SPLC’s accusations. Indeed, the smear factory is notorious for reporting the most salacious “hate crimes,” which turn out to be hoaxes, and then continuing to cite the alleged crimes as if they were not proven to be hoaxes. The group continues to brand Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a “hate group,” even though ADF’s ideological opponents at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and the ACLU have condemned this false accusation.

Big Tech and media companies need to end their relationships with and reliances on the SPLC. Indeed Facebook and Twitter have already begun distancing themselves. Many companies that have funded the SPLC remained silent about the smear factory’s recent racism and sexual assault scandal, however. Amazon is particularly bad, so a conservative group has launched a pressure campaign.

This WSJ ad will add even more pressure, and these companies should take it seriously.

The Family Research Council and the American Family Association paid to publish this ad in the Wall Street Journal.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.