On Thursday, CNN finally covered the racism and sexual harassment scandal embroiling the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), but they left out important details like the many lawsuits from organizations the SPLC falsely designated “hate groups.” CNN even mentioned the latest in the Jussie Smollett hate hoax, without noting the connection between former Michelle Obama chief of staff Tina Tchen and the Smollett scandal.
“There’s a group that has been a fierce champion for social justice for decades, keeping close tabs on hate groups, defending civil rights, and famously taking the Klan to court and winning. Now the Southern Poverty Law Center is in a very different kind of struggle — from within,” At This Hour host Kate Bolduan said, beginning the segment.
Bolduan and Nick Valencia addressed the key aspects of the scandal. After black attorney Meredith Horton resigned, unleashing allegations of racism and sexism, the organization started cleaning house.
The SPLC fired its co-founder, Morris Dees, President Richard Cohen stepped down, and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson removed herself from the Board of Directors. The group’s female legal director also stepped down.
CNN interviewed two current employees who confirmed reporting from the Montgomery Advertiser and PJ Media about the organization’s scandalous history on race. One said the SPLC suffers from “a systemic culture of racism and sexism within its workplace.” Another said, “black employees are not being promoted, despite being qualified,” and women feel unseen and unheard.
One employee added, “My boss only hires white people.”
This fits with the 1993 Montgomery Advertiser expose revealing that twelve out of thirteen black former employees said they witnessed or experienced racism. It also fits with GlassDoor reviews from 2017 which reported that black employees had worked at the SPLC for twelve years without being promoted.
“It’s bad,” one employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN. “The rank and file are deeply divided.”
Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, has begun a workplace investigation. One employee told CNN the SPLC is going through a “revolution” against its longtime leadership, initiated by employees. Another employee told CNN that Tchen’s investigation is a step in the right direction.
“Now Tchen, the former adviser and former chief of staff for Michelle Obama, is considered an expert in counseling companies on gender and equity, sexual harassment, and a lack of diversity in the workplace,” Valencia said.
Then CNN immediately pivoted to the case of Empire star Jussie Smollett, who was charged after police concluded he had concocted a hate hoax. Tchen had reached out to State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, asking her to get the feds involved right after Smollett told his story.
CNN finally gave the SPLC scandal the time it deserved, and the original reporting from interviewing current employees is admirable. However, CNN left out any mention of Tchen’s connection to the Smollett hoax.
The liberal network also left out another key aspect of the story. In recent decades, the SPLC started listing mainstream conservative and Christian groups along with the Ku Klux Klan as “hate groups.” In 2017, the charity navigation website GuideStar marked each organization on the SPLC list as a “hate group” on its website. Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit.
Shortly thereafter, the Christian nonprofit D. James Kennedy Ministries filed a lawsuit against Amazon and the SPLC, after realizing that it was excluded from Amazon Smile over the SPLC list. Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz also sued the SPLC for defaming him, calling him an “anti-Muslim extremist.”
Last year, the SPLC settled with Nawaz, paying $3.375 million to his nonprofit, the Quilliam Foundation, and offering a public apology. Roughly 60 nonprofits falsely branded “hate groups” by the SPLC started considering defamation lawsuits of their own.
Last December, Baltimore attorney Glen Keith Allen filed a RICO and defamation lawsuit against the SPLC, and the smear group hired a high-powered lawyer to defend against him. The immigration group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) is suing for wire fraud under RICO. Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes is also suing for defamation.
CNN did not mention a single one of these lawsuits, or the connection between Tina Tchen and Jussie Smollett.
The liberal news outlet also did not mention the fact that so many companies that gave money to the SPLC have remained silent on the recent scandal.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.