Posts Tagged ‘media’

SPLC — Doubling down on the “Trump Effect”

November 29, 2016

In February of this year, Watching the Watchdogs reported on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s thinly disguised attack on then-candidate Donald Trump that claimed that “election-related” harassment of immigrant and minority children was surging in the public schools due to Trump’s caustic rhetoric. They called the report “The Trump Effect.”

At that time we noted that the SPLC, like all 501(c)(3) nonprofits, was strictly prohibited by IRS tax regulations from promoting or denouncing political candidates during a campaign. The SPLC slid around that regulation by claiming that it had “collected 5,000 comments from 2,000 educators” who responded to an online survey created by the company’s “Teaching Tolerance” wing, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom.

See, it wasn’t the SPLC attacking Trump, they were simply repeating what they were told by the 2,000 respondents. Get it?

As usual, the Media obediently regurgitated the SPLC’s nonsense without performing even the most rudimentary fact checks, with many of them transmogrifying the company’s claim of “2,000 respondents” into “a survey of 2,000 teachers” and the term “harassment” into “hate crimes.”

What most media outlets conveniently ignored was the clearly stated disclaimer on the “Trump Effect” web page that:

“Our survey of approximately 2,000 K-12 teachers was not scientific. Our email subscribers and those who visit our website are not a random sample of teachers nationally and those who chose to respond to our survey are likely to be those who are most concerned about the impact of the presidential campaign on their students and schools.”

Not only did the SPLC publicly state that their “survey” was not scientific because the respondents were not chosen at random, they can’t even verify that the alleged responses came from actual “educators.”

The same document also notes that “Teaching Tolerance magazine is sent to over 400,000 educators, reaching nearly every school in the country,” and yet the entire “report” is based on only 2,000 anonymous, unverifiable responses?

Either 398,000 “educators” ignored the survey email or the SPLC cherry-picked 2,000 “reliable” people who would give the “right answers.”

Either way, given the widespread media coverage given the “Trump Effect” the reaction among the donors must have been fantastic.

Never one to let a good thing go, on November 28, the SPLC doubled down on its “Trump Effect” cash cow by releasing a new and improved version of the “report,” this time freed from any IRS election-related restrictions.

The new report now claims that “Over 10,000 teachers, counselors, administrators and others who work in schools have responded,” with “more than 25,000 comments.”

As if stung by Watching the Watchdogs‘ observation that all of the alleged responses in the first “report” were anecdotal, anonymous and completely unverifiable, the company made a point of claiming that:

“Nearly all respondents identified themselves by name, email address, grade level and state. More than 1,500 signified a willingness to go on record by giving permission for Teaching Tolerance to share their contact information with the media.”

Despite this apparent willingness to actually document their claims, the 2.0 version of the “Trump Effect” is accompanied by alleged claims by the anonymous likes of “High School Teacher, New York,” and “Elementary School Teacher, Minnesota.” There’s not a single claim backed up the willing 1,500 mentioned above.

And while the company buried its disclaimer a little deeper into the text this time, the song remains the same:

“The results of this survey are not scientific. The respondents were not selected in a manner to ensure a representative sample; those who responded may have been more likely to perceive problems than those who did not.”

Once again, the “report” duly notes that “Teaching Tolerance magazine is sent to more than 400,000 educators, reaching nearly every school in the country,” and yet only 10,000 “educators” allegedly responded.

It’s worth noting that the National Center for Education Statistics estimates that there were more than 3.5 million full-time teachers in the US in 2014, the latest statistical year, meaning that less than three-tenths of a percent of them responded to the SPLC’s open “survey,” anonymously or otherwise. You do the math.

In the long run, it really doesn’t matter. The Media is already regurgitating the SPLC’s “10,000 educator” claims as fact the day after the “report” was released. Even though the company clearly states that its numbers are “not scientific” and has yet to produce one single verifiable respondent, the Media will repeat every last claim as if it were true.

Well played, SPLC. No doubt we’ll see record-breaking donation figures in your next IRS Form 990, as well as much-deserved raises in the six-digit salaries your all-white executives are pulling down.

In the meantime, Watching The Watchdogs will continue to watch and to document your latest fundraising antics. You read it here first.

 

SPLC — “200 Post-Election Hate Incidents”

November 14, 2016

UPDATE — As noted below, on November 11, 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center claimed on its website that it had “had counted 201 incidents of election-related harassment and intimidation across the country as of Friday, November 11.”

On November 14, Watching the Watchdogs noted that the SPLC’s “count” included “reports” from a web page it had set up where people could report alleged incidents anonymously, with no verification whatsoever.

The very next day, on November 15, the SPLC updated its “count” to 437, this time adding the interesting note that:

“These incidents, aside from news reports, are largely anecdotal.”

This disclaimer is conveniently absent from the November 11 post.

Was the disclaimer a result of our reporting or simply coincidence? You be the judge.

The SPLC followed up its “anecdotal” admission with the claim that “The SPLC did follow up with a majority of user submissions in an effort to confirm reports.”

Really? Okay. Prove it. Show us your proof, SPLC. You didn’t simply include “a majority” of the alleged claims that no one but you have seen in your count; you counted ALL of them. If you’ve confirmed any of them, just show your proof on your website. Your word alone isn’t good enough. 

It’s not like you lack publicity. In fact, it will be interesting to see how many media outlets regurgitating your “437 incidents” claim will include your “they’re largely anecdotal” disclaimer.

You can read our original post below:

———————————————————————-

[Nov. 14] In the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the November 8 election, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been ramping up the fear-mongering rhetoric, and, right on cue, the media has been regurgitating the SPLC’s claims without performing even the most rudimentary fact checks.

Dozens upon dozens of mainstream and local newspapers, magazines and blogs have been quoting an unvetted USA Today claim that: “Since Election Day, there have been more than 200 incidents of hateful harassment and intimidation across the country, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

The claim has been picked up and repeated by such publications as Fortune, Time and the New York Times, all of whom should know better. As with most SPLC fundraising copy, it makes for lurid reading which is guaranteed to agitate certain sectors of the population, (donors), and, as with most SPLC fundraising copy, even the slightest investigation of the company’s claims ring hollow.

According to the breathless “Hatewatch” special report on the SPLC website the company has counted “Over 200 Incidents of Hateful Harassment and Intimidation Since Election Day.” And how did the SPLC come up with these “incidents”? “By pulling from news reports, social media, and direct submissions at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website.”

Let’s parse that out a little, shall we? Sadly, there have been a number of very real incidents reported in the media, which, as of this writing, are still under investigation. It is sincerely hoped that the perpetrators of these mindless acts are identified, charged and punished.

Until the police have finished their work on these cases, it is worth noting that some of them may be hoaxes perpetrated in the name of “advocacy” as we have reported in the past, here, here and here. If this turns out to be the case in any instance, it is even more sincerely hoped that the perpetrators of these mindless acts are identified, charged and punished. History has shown, however, that hate crime hoaxers are given far more leeway than your average idiot.

So what we’re left with, after the ongoing investigations listed in the media are social media accounts, meaning that anyone on the planet can submit whatever they want, and even more stringent, the “direct submissions” to the SPLC website.

If you click the “direct submissions” link above you will be taken to an SPLC web page where  you can report any instances of allegedly election-related “harassment,” which the SPLC conveniently fails to define. How do we know these accounts are rock-solid true? Because the SPLC insists that you include your first name, the date of the alleged incident and check off one of several locations for the event, such as school, place of worship, business, etc.

election-incidents

That’s all it takes, sports fans. An anonymous post from anyone on the planet and a new “election-related hate incident” is born.

Ironically, when the SPLC was running its spurious “Erasing Hate” campaign against symbols of the Confederacy last year if you wanted to report a school named for Robert E. Lee or a Stonewall Jackson street in your town, (all information the SPLC could easily get through Google or government websites), you had to give your full name and email address.

Of course, the point of that exercise was to get your contact information into the company’s fundraising apparatus.

erasing

Granted, even this form doesn’t provide any conclusive identification, but it’s a minor step up from absolutely anonymous “reporting.”

The company even has the chutzpah to cite its previous garbage statistics on the same web page, the so-called “Trump Effect” report it issued last April to even larger unvetted regurgitation that claimed that “hate incidents” were spiking in grade schools because of the negativity in the US Presidential debates.

That “report,” which the company itself labeled as “not scientific” because the “survey” underpinning it was not distributed randomly and the company had no idea if the people responding to it were even teachers to begin with.

“Our survey of approximately 2,000 K-12 teachers was not scientific. Our email subscribers and those who visit our website are not a random sample of teachers nationally, and those who chose to respond to our survey are likely to be those who are most concerned about the impact of the presidential campaign on their students and schools.”

Even more telling was the fact that same “report” claimed that Teaching Tolerance, the wing of the SPLC that created the “survey,” reaches more than 400,000 teachers a month, and yet the entire “report” was built on only 2,000 anonymous responses. Really?

Either 398,000 teachers ignored the email survey or the SPLC cherry-picked 2,000 reliable operatives who would give the “right” answers that would allow the company to agitate its mostly-Progressive donor base by invoking Trump’s name while narrowly skirting the strict IRS regulations that prohibit all 501(c)(3) non-profits from endorsing or denouncing political candidates.

And once again, the media and the Blogosphere cannot regurgitate SPLC fundraising tripe fast enough, even when the company itself comes out and says that their data is crap.

One last point, to the SPLC’s credit, it was entirely truthful when it reported “over 200 hateful incidents.” According to the website, the actual count was 201.

God bless America, people.

The Mysterious Case of Zachary Tennen

September 5, 2012

***** UPDATE — 9/30/12 ****** According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency the Tennen Family has asked that the hate crime investigation be officially closed:

The family wrote in a Sept. 24 letter that “justice will be best served by closing this investigation at this time,” according to reports. “The Tennen family is cognizant of the fact that substantial resources were expended to investigate these allegations and that there is insufficient evidence of a hate crime to go forward with a criminal prosecution,” the letter said.

How exactly will “justice be best served” by covering up such a heinous hate crime? Tennen’s father had already lined up “high profile lawyers” and had complained personally to the Anti-Defamation League. What justice is there in letting those evil Nazi-Klan-Skinheads get away with such blatant anti-Semitism?? Isn’t this exactly the way the Nazis got started to begin with?

Well… not so much.

A couple of days earlier several news outlets released the missing details from all other reports to date. Statenews.com reports that Mr. Tennen was, in his own words, “drunk and high” at the party that night, and he began to make unwanted sexual advances on several female party-goers:

According to the report, several female students told police Tennen made advances on them at the party, touched them inappropriately, asked them to make out with him and invited them back to his apartment.

One woman said after trying to avoid Tennen several times in the backyard, she was approached by him while she was sitting outside. Tennen came up to sit next to her and began touching her in a way that made her feel “extremely uncomfortable and scared,” she told police, the report reveals.
“I looked at my phone and ignored him in hopes that he’d walk away,” the witness said. “Instead he … placed his right hand across my chest and on my upper right thigh and then began to move lower to my private parts.”

The witness said Tennen was pushing against her so she couldn’t stand up or get away and asked her to make out with him.

After slapping his hand away, she went to get help from one of her friends — the man police identified as the suspect who punched Tennen.

Chivalry, it seems, is not dead after all, even among Nazi-Klan-Skinheads. Good for them.

So, what charges will be brought in this case? Will the Nazi-Klan-Skinhead face charges for the assault? It seems unlikely: “As of Thursday, no charges have been filed. In addition, no arrests have been made, and the case is not considered a hate crime.”

Will Zachary Tennen be charged with underage drinking, public intoxication and attempted sexual assault? Not likely.

Will Mr. Tennen be charged with filing false charges and promoting a hate crime hoax?

Despite some inconsistencies between the story Tennen gave police and witness accounts of the assault, Dunnings said there is no chance Tennen could be charged with filing a false police report.

“He believed he was assaulted, and he was, in fact, hit,” [Prosecutor Stuart]Dunnings said. “The fact that there may have been some erroneous reporting around the events does not make it a false police report.”

Apparently not. “Hate crime” laws aren’t about crime, after all, are they?

As for the “erroneous reporting,” here’s a link to an ABC News report featuring Mr. Tennen literally lying through his teeth, twice.

***** UPDATE — 9/17/12 ****** And the final word from the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office:

“There is no indication at all that this was a hate crime. None. Zero,” Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said Monday. “I think it’s a shame when one person makes an allegation and everyone takes it as the truth and gets up in arms about it.”

It is a shame, Mr. Dunnings, and hopefully your office will hold Mr. Tennen responsible for this reprehensible hoax. If societies are going enact subjective “hate crime” laws based on what the perpetrator was allegedly thinking at the time of the crime, then people who abuse those laws should be held to the same standards and punishments.

Maybe that would make the hoaxers think twice.

***** UPDATE — 9/14/12 ****** The Anti-Defamation League, (ADL), has issued a press release noting that “East Lansing Police have apparently concluded that while the student was the victim of a serious physical assault, the evidence does not support his claim that the assault involved anti-Semitic hate speech or gestures, nor does it indicate that the incident was motivated by his religion.”

The ADL then concludes that:

The story is a very sad one, on many levels.  However, based on the best information currently available, ADL does not believe this incident should be treated as a hate crime.

The story is indeed a very sad one. If the ADL, the creators and promoters of many current hate crime laws on the books, believe that this is not a hate crime, they should be among the first and the loudest to call for the most severe legal penalties under the law to be brought against an intentional hate crime hoaxer.

Will the ADL do the moral thing, the right thing, by demanding justice? Will they circle the wagons around one of their own and cook up some cockamamie excuse for the alleged hoaxer, as so many special interest groups are wont to do in these situations? Will the ADL and the Media simply allow this case to case to drop down the Memory Hole and never speak of it again?

Only time will tell. Stay tuned for further updates, if and when they occur.

***** UPDATE — 9/6/12 ****** Andrew Silow-Carroll, Editor-in-Chief of the New Jersey Jewish News, offers some good advice on allowing the police investigation to proceed before making the very serious charges of anti-Semitism or “hate crime.”

*******************

Another horrific hate crime story was in the news last week that bears watching for further developments. Like the violent attack reported by Lincoln, Nebraska, lesbian Charlie Rogers in July, the early media reports on the attack on 19-year-old Jewish college student Zachary Tennen have evolved into an entirely different scenario.

Charlie Rogers claimed she was attacked because of her sexual identity. Early media reports determined that “three white men”  had undoubtedly committed one of the most heinous hate crimes in Nebraska history. Lincoln police investigated her report as a hate crime, but after examining the evidence they have since arrested Ms. Rogers and are charging her with faking the attack and filing a false report.

Early reports on the Tennen attack say that the MSU journalism student was at an off-campus party early on the morning of August 26 when two males with “shaved heads”  approached and asked him if he was Jewish. When Tennen replied that he was Jewish, the two men allegedly made “Nazi and Hitler symbols and they said they were part of the KKK,” according to Tennen’s report.

At that point, according to the media, the Klan-Nazi-Skinheads proceeded to “knock” or “beat” (depending on the source) Tennen into unconsciousness and then “stapled his mouth shut.”

Hate crimes don’t come much clearer than that (unless it comes to “carving” slurs into the flesh of a lesbian) and the media had a feeding frenzy.  Once again, before the police had even begun their preliminary investigation, the usual special interest groups weighed in to register their “horror” at this obvious anti-Semitic hate crime.

At least the ADL had the common sense to deplore an “alleged attack,” and the Southern Poverty Law Center seems to be watching and waiting on this one, having been singed by the Charlie Rogers incident.

East Lansing Police have since painted a slightly different picture of the events that don’t quite line up with Tennen’s version.

  • Witnesses at the party did not see or hear any “Nazi symbols” prior to the attack.
  • Tennen was knocked to the ground by a single punch (There’s a difference between being kayo’d by a single punch and being “beaten,” just as there is a significant difference between “carving” and “scratching” words on a person’s skin.)
  • Witnesses who saw the punch said the two men left immediately afterward and there was no stapler or stapling involved. (Do Klan-Nazi-Skinheads carry Swingline staplers nowadays?). Photos and a video interview with Tennen show no puncture wounds to his face or lips.
  • Tennen did not report the incident to police until a good 12 hours later.
Click image to enlarge

In the days following the attack, the media backed off from the hate crime angle, and like the East Lansing police, are now suspecting that Tennen was one of countless college students across the country that night who had a few drinks at an off-campus party, said or did something to offend a fellow guest and found themselves lying in a crumpled heap on the ground shortly thereafter.

“Two witnesses said they saw the victim having an argument with two other males in the front yard and one  punched him (Tennen) in the face,” [Police] Capt. Jeff Murphy said.

“There was nothing about anti-Semitic statements or about his face being stapled,” Murphy said.

“It appears to be a one-punch-to-the-face type assault,” Murphy said

Tennen’s parents aren’t giving up on their son’s account, however. It was they who notified the ADL of the attack and they have since made several public allegations that the witnesses and police may be covering up the true anti-Semitic nature of the crime.

Tennen’s father, Bruce Tennen, is determined to play the hate crime angle to the hilt:

We are in the process of engaging a high-profile governmental attorney,” Bruce Tennen said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s my hope that the assailants will be apprehended soon by the East Lansing Police Department, brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent under applicable state and federal criminal laws.

Mr. Tennen may be disappointed if there turns out to be very few state and federal statutes regarding a punch in the face.

Just as in the Rogers case, though, some special interest groups are hedging their bets so that even if this case does turn out to be another hate crime hoax the perpetrator’s actions will be justified.

Shortly after Charlie Rogers was charged with making a false report a coalition of Nebraska LGBT groups noted that “It is important not to focus on the actions of any single individual,” the statement read. “As residents of Lincoln we must continue to bring our community together to declare that violence and hate are not the values of our city.”

Oddly enough, up until Rogers was charged, these same groups were very much focused on the alleged actions of three white male individuals. If they had committed these heinous acts these groups would have done everything in their power to extract the most severe penalties under law.

Now that it looks like Ms. Rogers fabricated the entire crime they’re willing to look the other way and there is no cry from them to charge Ms. Rogers with anything more than the misdemeanor of filing false charges. How exactly does this double standard “bring the community together”? Where’s the outrage now?

In a similar vein, Alex Waldman, president of MSU’s Jewish Student Union, seems just as willing to turn a blind eye in the event that Mr. Tennen might have exaggerated the events of that night.

Regardless of what the outcome of this incident is, this is an opportunity for our campus to evaluate hate toward groups, whether it’s cultural, racial or religious; hate is always there, and (for) students our age, as young adults, it is our responsibility to eliminate that.”

Hopefully, Mr. Waldman means that it is also the community’s responsibility to eliminate the irresponsible misuse of hate crime laws in the furtherance of anyone’s personal agendas.

Police have since identified and interviewed two suspects, though no arrests have been made as of this writing. We don’t know all the facts yet. Maybe the suspects really are Klan-Nazi-Skinheads so this case is still open.

As with the Charlie Rogers case, it will be worth watching this one to see just what actually happened that night.

Stay tuned for details as they come in.


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