Posts Tagged ‘press release’

SPLC and “Gunderson’s Guillotines”

March 29, 2010

As part of its ongoing crusade to Keep America Safe From Conservatives, the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center has been making the media rounds lately, flooding the ether with baseless claims of “militia” conspiracies and “patriot” plots. As usual, there are a lot of unsubstantiated allegations and vague “guilt-by-association” associations. One such spurious “report” has been circulating since August of 2009, including a news article posted as recently March 29, 2010, by the Ashland Daily Tidings, of Mobile, Alabama.

The story, “Shrinking View of Government“, by Chris Honoré, repeats a line from the SPLC’s Public Relations department that reads: “At a meeting in Pensacola, Fla., a retired FBI agent, Ted Gunderson, tells a gathering of anti-government ‘Patriots’ that the federal government has set up 1,000 internment camps across the country and is storing 30,000 guillotines and a half-million caskets in Atlanta”.

Thirty thousand guillotines? Sacre bleu!! No wonder the SPLC is so upset. The line is lifted verbatim from a fear-mongering fund raising “report” put out by Larry Keller: The Second Wave: Growing Evidence of Far-Right Militia Resurgence. If you Google the terms “Gunderson” and “Guillotines” together, you’ll find dozens of identical quotes, word for word, in the Blogosphere. This is how SPLC “facts” become factual.

What The Second Wave fails to mention, however, is when and where the alleged meeting took place, and how many evil “Patriots” comprise a “gathering”.

A search of the LexisNexis news archives brings up no reports of any “patriot gatherings” in Pensacola in the past two years. If anyone knows when and where it happened, please let us know.

LexisNexis only returned one hit of a legitimate news organization reporting on the guillotines. Steven Thomma of the McClatchy news service lifted the SPLC line, word for word, in his article, “Secret Camps and Guillotines“, published on August 28, 2009. Mr. Thomma goes one better by adding:

“Why guillotines? “Because,” he wrote in a report obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, “beheading is the most efficient means of harvesting body parts.”

Oddly enough, there is absolutely no mention of the organ harvesting report on the SPLC’s website, or anywhere else online. One would think that if they had a damning document like that in hand that they would make it available for all to see.

Or, maybe they just invented the story. It’s not like anyone, (besides us…), is ever going to ask to actually SEE the evidence. An e-mail to Mr. Thomma asking if he had seen the document, or had any particulars on the “gathering” has gone unanswered as of this writing.

Since the second-hand parties were not forthcoming with any documentation, we decided to go right to the source. Ted Gunderson, who is now in his 80s, has his own website: (NOTE: Mr. Gunderson’s original website was taken down shortly after his death in 2011. Here is an archived link to the site courtesy of the Internet Archive. It may take a few seconds to load. [WTW Jan. 22, 2013])

Oddly enough, despite dire warnings about the Illuminati, the assassination of Sonny Bono and the D.C. prostitutes who know the real story behind the 9/11 attacks, not one word about guillotines or organ harvesting was found on the website.To be fair, not every link was checked, so if anyone out there can provide the link, Watching the Watchdogs will recant immediately.

So, what do we have at the end of the day? A claim made by the SPLC about “guillotines” that was slickly polished and packaged and sent into the world by their PR guru, Mark Potok’s highly efficient press release service.

The “report” is picked up by the Blogosphere and the mainstream media, none of which performed even the most rudimentary fact checks, and is dutifully regurgitated and repeated until it “becomes truth”.

Even the octogenarian ex-FBI agent, who apparently has never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like, makes no mention of the guillotines, the organ harvests or the “patriot gathering” on his own website. LexisNexis has no  record of the events and nothing turned up on YouTube or Google Video.

Once again, the SPLC cooks up a steaming plate of fund-raising tripe, and once again, the Media and other left-wing “advocates” lap it up without bothering to ask what’s in it.

Although the SPLC’s “report” is entirely undocumented, as usual, you can find a link to their donation center at the bottom of the web page, as usual.


SPLC Media Manipulation: “NPR: ‘Patriots’ Are Dangerous to Our Government”

March 21, 2010

An excellent analysis of how the Southern Poverty Law Center’s fund-raising propaganda is mindlessly regurgitated by the Media without being subjected to even the most rudimentary fact checking.

The SPLC has spent decades and millions of donor dollars creating a “brand name” designed to bypass all rational scrutiny. Editors receive carefully crafted public relations press releases, like the one cited below, they see the SPLC brand stamped on it and conclude, “If the SPLC says so, it MUST be true!”

Some editors perpetuate the SPLC’s propaganda out of convenience, as they have so much blank newsprint/web page/air time to fill everyday. The editors at NPR, on the other hand, know better. They dish up steaming plates of this tripe because they WANT it to be true. Contact NPR’s Ombudsman and let her know that you can find better use for your donor dollars.

It’s little wonder that the SPLC compensates its PR Guru, Mark Potok, with more than $143,000 donor dollars a year. Considering the hundreds of millions of donor dollars Mr. Potok’s spurious “reports” have funneled into the SPLC’s coffers, ($189 MILLION in cash on hand as of October, 2009), they probably don’t pay him nearly enough.

My sincere thanks to Warner Todd Huston for generously allowing me to reprint his superb article here.


NPR: ‘Patriots’ Are Dangerous to Our Government

-By Warner Todd Huston

Public supported National Public Radio (NPR) posted a report on March 17 during its “All Things Considered” radio show that warns its listeners that “patriot groups” are dangerous and are apparently increasingly prone to attacking government officials and facilities. Oddly the two examples it uses to prove its case have no ties whatsoever to any “patriot groups.”

Headlined, “Hostility Against Federal Workers Troubles Officials,” NPR blames “patriot groups” on these attacks and worries that “anti-government hate groups” are on the “upsurge.” And what does NPR use to prove its case? Nothing but the say so the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center and a misconstruction of two recent attacks on government facilities by disturbed individuals.

NPR ominously begins its report with this:

Three attacks on U.S. government employees this year, along with an upsurge in anti-government hate groups, have officials in Washington concerned about the safety of federal workers.

The piece goes on to report that this sort of violence is a “troubling trend” and lays it all at the feet of “patriot and militia groups.”

NPR then tries to prove its case by discussing the two most recent sensational attackers on government facilities; Joe Stack and John Patrick Bedell.

Joe Stack, a disturbed man who crashed his small plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas back in February, was not known to have any ties to any tea party group, any “patriot” group, or other right-wing groups. His manifesto reads like a confused communist rant with hate for the U.S. government and George W. Bush liberally sprinkled throughout. But NPR lumps this nut in with the right with claims that they are all dangerous to government officials and facilities.

NPR similarly uses as proof of these dangerous patriots the disturbed actions of John Patrick Bedell who opened fire on officers near the Pentagon on March 4. Bedell was an anti-war protestor, heavy marijuana user, and exhibited paranoia for which he refused to seek medical help. Bedell also has no known ties to tea party groups, any political organizations, or NPR’s frightening “patriot groups.”

Yet NPR put forth both of these sick-minded men as examples of “patriots” that have become dangerous and unstable. If NPR wasn’t saying so why include them in this report?

Naturally for its “expert” on dangerous patriots NPR turns to Mark Potok, the director of the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center. As always, Potok cites claims of a “huge growth in the so-called patriot movement that includes militias out there.” Not that NPR offers any actual proof other than Potok’s say so, of course.

“We’ve seen in particular a huge growth in the so-called patriot movement that includes militias out there,” Potok says. “And I think that some of the violence that we’ve seen, such as the Pentagon shooter and the IRS, are at least in some way a reflection of that rage.”

Potok says there are now more than 500 patriot and militia groups active in the U.S., more than triple the number in 2008.

Again, NPR trots out Potok to warn of those evil, evil right-wing patriots and tries to back his claims up with two crazy people that have no ties at all to those same right-wing patriot groups that are being blamed for this “upsurge” in violence.

What NPR doesn’t tell you is the sort of people that work wt. the SPLC. Chip Berlet, for instance, is one of those people. Berlet has all sorts of extremist, left-wing associates (like anti-American billionaire financier George Soros) and is a member of other far left organizations such as the Socialist Workers Party. Here is an entry on Berlet in nestled in a page about the left-wing Tides Foundation:

Berlet is a senior analyst for Political Research Associates, and has had affiliations with the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Friends Service Committee, the Christic Institute, the Socialist Workers Party, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

To show how unbiased SLPC’s Chip Berlet is, he once wrote that, “right-wing foundations and think tanks support efforts to make bigoted and discredited ideas respectable.” Not too biased there, eh? also has a page on the SPLC itself.

So, for its expert on those monstrous patriot groups, NPR turns to a group that has ties to the Socialist Workers Party, George Soros, and the anti-Christian ACLU and then expects us to think such an organization should be accepted as an unbiased news source! Apparently NPR does expect us all to accept as gospel its left-biased report on how dangerous those “patriots” are, but I hope America is more skeptical than that.

Remember folks, our tax dollars support NPR.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,,,,, Human Events Magazine,, and the New Media Journal, among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events and is currently the co-host of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Conservatism” heard on BlogTalkRadio. Warner is also the editor of the Cook County Page for

He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on He is also the owner and operator of Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

Fair Use: This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research, educational, or satirical purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site/blog for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

SPLC — Damned Lies and Statistics — Part 2

January 22, 2010

As part of an ongoing investigation of how the Southern Poverty Law Center manipulates the media for its own goals, let’s take a closer look at a public relations press release issued by the SPLC on January 19, 2010.

Teaching Tolerance Magazine Examines the “New Segregation” in US Schools

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — More than 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education offered the hope of integrated classrooms, today’s schools not only remain racially segregated, but are dividing along gender lines, sexual orientation and immigration status in the name of better education, according to the Spring 2010 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine.

“The sad truth is that our public schools are more racially segregated today than they were 40 years ago,” said Lecia Brooks, director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). “We’re back to buying into the belief that separate can be equal — and this time around we’re not limiting segregated classrooms to race.”

Teaching Tolerance, released today, is being distributed free of charge by the SPLC to more than 400,000 educators nationwide. It can be read at

In a series of articles titled “The New Segregation,” Teaching Tolerance examines the state of racial segregation in public schools and how some educators are embracing the idea of creating schools and classrooms that separate other groups of students who are often ill-served by schools.

Today, one-third of black students attend school in places where the population is more than 90 percent black. Almost half of white students attend schools that are more than 90 percent white. One-third of all black and Latino students attend high-poverty schools where more than 75 percent of students received free or reduced-price lunches, as compared to 4 percent of white students.

In addition, educators are experimenting with segregating students based on characteristics other than race.

The magazine examines the practice of creating gender-segregated classrooms and looks at schools created to provide safe havens for gay students hoping to escape harassment and bullying. It also explores schools focused on the needs of immigrant students and describes the obstacles encountered by students with mental disabilities in mainstream classrooms.

Other articles offer educators tips on how to address issues related to segregation that they may face in their own classrooms — whether it is teaching the Civil Rights Movement in a segregated community or reaching the lone student of color in a class.

Teaching Tolerance magazine, published twice a year by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is the nation’s leading journal serving educators on diversity issues. In 2007, the magazine was named Periodical of the Year by the Association of Educational Publishers for the second consecutive year. Teaching Tolerance films have garnered four Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala., is a nonprofit civil rights organization that combats bigotry and discrimination through litigation, education and advocacy.  For more information, see

SOURCE Southern Poverty Law Center

First a quick word about press releases. Most Americans are entirely unaware of how much of the so-called “news” they encounter each day is actually public relations advertising copy, written by and for the special interest group being discussed in the “article”.

With shrinking newsroom budgets and a 24-hour news cycle, media outlets are desperate for fresh content with which to fill up the blank newsprint/web page/ air time they face each day. Enter the press release; a pre-written, pre-formatted, pre-edited text, audio or video file that can be cut and pasted into the void with a few clicks of the mouse.

Note the dateline on this piece, “MONTGOMERY, Ala., Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ –”

PRNewswire and USNewswire are press release aggregators. Special interest groups, like the SPLC or the Tobacco lobby, etc., send them their carefully crafted statements and, for a fee, the aggregators will pass them along to thousands of other subscribers, who will pick them up and reissue them as “news” without performing the simplest fact checks.

In short, the “newsmakers” are writing their own “news” articles. It’s a business.

Press releases are usually written in a third-person style, allowing the media outlets to attach a local by-line as a fig leaf. Note the several quotes by the “expert,” who is on the same payroll as the “journalist” who wrote the piece.

Next comes the statement of supporting factoids. A veritable fruit basket of half-truths and skewed statistics, where apples are mixed in with the oranges:

Today, one-third of black students attend school in places where the population is more than 90 percent black. Almost half of white students attend schools that are more than 90 percent white. One-third of all black and Latino students attend high-poverty schools where more than 75 percent of students received free or reduced-price lunches, as compared to 4 percent of white students.

Where did this “information” come from? We don’t know. It is not cited in either the press release or in the actual article. In true SPLC fashion, you know it’s true because they told you it was true.

  • If “one-third of black students attend school in places where the population is more than 90 percent black,” doesn’t that mean that two-thirds of black students do not?
  • Likewise, if “almost half of all white students attend schools that are more than 90 percent white” (gasp!), doesn’t that mean that more than half of them do not?
  • According to the 2000 US Census, whites outnumbered blacks by nearly 7 to 1. Since the black population is not equally distributed across the country, and there are a heck of a lot more white kids than black kids, how much rocket science is required to figure out that you’re not going to achieve a perfect mix?

As usual, the numbers are meaningless.

In 2007, the magazine was named Periodical of the Year by the Association of Educational Publishers for the second consecutive year.”

Pretty impressive, no? No. Not so much. For those pesky few people, like me, who actually take three minutes to visit the AEP website, it’s kinda hard to get all worked up by an award from a trade group that was created to promote non-profit organizations. In short, it’s a PR service for PR hacks.

Some of the benefits of membership in the AEP include:

Did you catch the second benefit? “Save nearly 50% on entries into the renowned AEP Awards” You actually have to pay cash, (from the donation pot, no doubt) to “enter” the contest against other “entrants” who also paid for the privilege. Now there’s a wide field of contenders. What if no one else paid to enter your particular event? Instant winner!

Well, it is an association of educational publishers, so it must be all about education, right? Why else would an organization spend scarce resources to enter the contest?

Stand out in a crowded marketplace

The educational resource market is fast becoming a tough place to do business­–and the competition isn’t just other companies anymore. Almost anyone with an Internet connection and an idea can get “published,” but how do you make your product stand out from the sea of educational content available on the Internet?

Enter the AEP Awards.

Maximize your marketing ROI [Return on Investment]

Industry awards are surefire way to give your product and your brand a one-up over your competitors. In fact, Janine Popick, CEO of direct marketing firm VerticalResponse, calls industry awards one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to help grow your business.

Media Opportunities
In addition to general AEP-issued press releases about the Awards—which are distributed to members of the general, education, and trade media—your organization can use your nomination as a Finalist or Winner as an opportunity to reach out to your local media and mailing lists.

AEP Awards Seals
In a crowded and growing marketplace, one of the best ways to differentiate yourself is to point out your accomplishments and accolades. AEP Award Finalists and Winners earn the right to display the AEP Award Seal, recognized by students, teachers, and administrators as a symbol of outstanding educational quality.”

Hmm, on second thought, maybe the AEP is actually an association of educational publishers.

So, once again, the SPLC’s PR guru, Mark Potok, has cobbled together another pre-fab, 500-word filler piece that will be picked up by media outlets and regurgitated as “news”.When this “news story” hits your local venue, compare it to the original press release shown above to see how much hard-hitting journalism your local reporters put into this article.

No matter that the “statistics” are un-cited and unverified, we know that the SPLC is telling the truth because they paid darned good money to another PR group to say so.

Once again, as usual, the bottom line at the SPLC is… the bottom line. It’s all about the money.

SPLC – “Bah! Humbug!”

December 14, 2009

At this festive season of the year, we are treated to a multitude of iterations of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas“. Everyone from Mr. Magoo to Michael Caine to Jim Carrey has a crack at showing us the error of our greedy ways and scaring us into doing the right thing.

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb), in its trivia section describing some of these presentations, reminds us of the origins of Mr. Scrooge’s most famous exclamation, “Humbug!”

“The word “humbug” describes deceitful efforts to fool people by pretending to a fake loftiness or false sincerity. So when Scrooge calls Christmas a humbug, he is claiming that people only pretend to charity and kindness in an scoundrel effort to delude him, each other, and themselves.”

Humbug, therefore, is a perfect description of the endless stream of fund-raising propaganda that issues forth from the Southern Poverty Law Center, like so much steaming stuffing from Bob Cratchit’s Christmas goose. Humbug being, as the French would say,  le mot juste.

The SPLC’s loftiness, and sincerity, are manufactured, not in some polar workshop, but by the highly skilled, and highly paid, efforts of their resident Public Relations elf, Mark Potok. Mr. Potok, who is compensated with more than $143,000 dollars from the donation kettle each year, excels at maintaining the SPLC’s twenty-plus-year-old fear campaign, as well as promoting the SPLC brand.

Whenever you read or hear the statement that the SPLC is “a leading civil rights organization,” or that its founder, Morris Dees, is a “pioneering civil rights icon,” you are reading the words of Mr. Potok or one of his minions. Every press release issued by Mr. Potok, to be picked up and disseminated as “news” by the media, will include one of these phrases or the other.

As mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, any lie, if repeated often enough, becomes truth.

Mr. Potok is quite efficient in his work; last year he helped to bring in over $30 million donor dollars. Of that $30 million, the “leading civil rights organization” spent just over $1.36 million in “legal case expenses,” or over half a million less than the $1.88 million it spent on fund-raising postage alone.

Given that the SPLC is a law center, with top-notch attorneys, interns and paralegals already on the payroll, one has to wonder what these expenses were. Actual court costs, even in jurisdictions larger than Montgomery, generally run in the few hundreds to few thousands of dollars.

In fact, according to their own auditors, the SPLC spent more on office supplies, ($1.4 million), and nearly as much for printing and lettershop expenses, ($1.2 million on each), as they did on “legal case expenses”.  Another $1.2 million donor dollars went just to compensate the top three lawyers, multimillionaires Dees, Cohen, Levin, and PR man Potok.

The SPLC spent more than $5 million donor dollars on “educational materials” and “other educational projects”, or nearly four times more than was spent on “legal case expenses”. It should be noted that “educational materials” can include fund-raising and lobbying materials, as well.

So much for loftiness and sincerity.

Much has already been posted on this blog concerning the SPLC’s other fund-raising techniques and scare tactics, (here, here and here, for example), to bore the reader with a tiresome repetition at this time.

Suffice it to say that any “civil rights law center” that spends more on fund-rasing postage than it does on actual “legal case expenses” is worthy of a heartfelt “Humbug!” indeed.

SPLC — Selective Outrage – Part 2

December 4, 2009

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 2009 was the Year the Militias Returned, angered by a tanking economy, illegal immigration and a black president. (In case you missed it, 2008 was the year that “racist skinheads” were going to take over America, and in 2007 it was the Klan, yet again).

As part of the ongoing fear campaign that has frightened hundreds of millions of dollars out of its well-meaning, mostly elderly donor base, the SPLC began circulating fund-raising press releases stating that a 22-year-old man in Pittsburgh “…who was afraid of Jews and gun confiscations killed three police officers.”

The fact that the mentally unbalanced shooter was not part of any “militia” and none of the police officers were Jewish makes no difference in the whimsical world of SPLC statistics. It’s simply more proof that the “militias” are back and you’ll find mention of the senseless murders on the SPLC web site and much of its recent fund-raising propaganda.

On Sunday, November 29, 2009, another unbalanced individual gunned down four police officers near Seattle. You won’t find the name of the accused shooter, Maurice Clemmons, on the SPLC website, or in any of their conspiracy theory press releases. Why?


In September, 2009, the SPLC started playing up the senseless murder of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero in its press releases. Lucero was attacked by a group of teenaged thugs who were looking for a Hispanic to assault.

Google the terms “SPLC” and “Lucero” together and you’ll find thousands of stories documenting a string of attacks on Hispanics in the NYC area.

Lucero was murdered on Long Island in November of 2008. Less than a month later, in Brooklyn, NY, two other Ecuadorian immigrants, brothers Jose and Romel Suchuzhanay, were also attacked by thugs who beat Jose with a baseball bat. The thugs attacked the Suchuzhanays because they were Hispanic, and, because the brothers were walking arm in arm, the perps mistakenly presumed them to be gay. Jose died in the hospital a few days later.

You won’t find anything on the death of Jose Suchuzhanay on the SPLC website, however, or the thugs,  Phoenix and Scott, who murdered him, even though this is a Hispanic/Gay hate crime two-fer. Why?

Also in September of 2009, threatening notes were found in a Hispanic church in Patchogue, Long Island, the epicenter of the SPLC’s anti-Hispanic hate crime crusade. Because the notes were written in broken Spanish, it was immediately assumed that the perpetrator was White.

Police soon arrested Christian Mungia Garcia, a member of that church, who speaks fluent Spanish, and charged him with the crime. Even though Garcia deliberately altered his writing to implicate a non-Hispanic in the crime, you won’t find a single word about him or the church on the SPLC website.


And on December 3, 2009, a “White supremacist” received three years probation and 150 hours of community service duty for sending “…racist death threats to black college students” in New Orleans through Facebook.

Although Mr. Hart claimed that he was “angry at the election of Barack Obama” in his Facebook posts, a keystone of the SPLC’s “militia” campaign, you won’t find word one about the incident on their web site or in any of their fund-raising propaganda.

Dryon Hart

When is a “hate crime” not a “hate crime” by SPLC standards? When the perps are non-White.

This is the ideology of the great “civil rights icons” at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

More “Tolerance” from the SPLC

November 13, 2009

When CNN’s Lou Dobbs announced on November 11 that he was stepping down from that network, one could almost hear the shouts of joy ringing out from Montgomery.

“Damn, if we haven’t done it again!”

The reason for all the glee? The ever-tolerant Southern Poverty Law Center had added its mite to the war on silencing anyone who disagrees with those who are making millions off the backs of illegal aliens.

Yesterday, yet another fund-raising letter from multimillionaire Dick Cohen arrived in the e-mail, crowing about how the SPLC had silenced another dissident.

“Can’t have free speech breaking out around here. It might foment “hate” and so we’ll just have to bludgeon all “wrong thinkers” early and often. Oh, and by the way, here’s how you can send us more money…”

If it were not for the fact that so many elderly people, on fixed incomes, believe the SPLC’s public relations releases and send in tens of millions of donor dollars a year, Cohen’s spiel would be laughable.

Dobbs, it seems, “used his platform to spread myths and propaganda,” sez Cohen, from his platform.

Dobbs was “poisoning the debate over immigration reform,” says the SPLC, which routinely smears anyone who stands to the right of its ultra left-wing policies as “anti-immigrant,” “nativist,” “white supremacist,” and of course, whenever two or more are gathered, as a “hate group”.

And Dobbs was “inciting fear and hate against Latinos,” but no mention is made, either in the PR press release or on the SPLC website, of the fact that thanks to the hate-filled rhetoric of the SPLC, La Raza and others making money off the illegal alien industry, someone fired a shot at Lou Dobbs and his wife in October.

Tolerance is a beautiful thing, baby.

Cohen continues by stating that Dobbs got his information from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, (FAIR), a group the SPLC has designated as a “hate group”. Cohen, realizing full well that the term “hate groups” is meaningless as it has no legal definition, even the FBI doesn’t track “hate groups” for that reason. A “hate group” is pretty much whatever Cohen and his fellow multimillionaires at the Center, Dees and Levin, deem it to be.

(In March 2008, SPLC public relations guru, Mark Potok summed up the SPLC’s official definition of what exactly constitutes a “hate” group by stating that “…a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality[or] potential for violence…” Rather, as Potok put it, “It’s all about ideology.”)

Basically, if you disagree with their ideology, the SPLC will smear you as a “hate group”.

Naturally, Cohen’s note ends with a link where folks can send him more money. The SPLC has fallen on hard times, due to the current recession, and is down to its last $156 MILLION, tax-free donor dollars, so your help has never been more important.

Remember folks, the first million donor dollars you send in has to be split between Cohen, Dees and Levin, who have all been multimillionaires for decades.

Only you can fight free speech in America. Give ’til it hurts


Southern Poverty Law Center
Nov. 12, 2009Dear Friend,

Last night, CNN anchor Lou Dobbs announced his departure from the network. As you know, we’ve been highly critical of Dobbs because he has used his platform to spread myths and propaganda — poisoning the debate over immigration reform and inciting fear and hate against Latinos.

The SPLC was one of the first groups to bring public attention to Dobbs’ use of false information provided by racist hate groups.

With your support, we exposed his wildly inaccurate reporting about immigrants — such as his insistence that immigrants had brought thousands of new cases of leprosy to the United States during a recent three-year period.

And we condemned his reliance on the Federation for American Immigration Reform as an authority on immigration issues. This is an organization we have named a hate group with longtime ties to white supremacists.

This past July, we called on CNN executives to fire Dobbs after he relentlessly promoted the racist and utterly baseless idea that President Obama is not a native-born American citizen. Soon thereafter, a number of other organizations joined our call.

Immigration reform is an important and complex issue, one that should be debated honestly. We hope that Dobbs’ resignation sends a message to other commentators that the airwaves shouldn’t be used to vent extremist rhetoric and fan the flames of hate. Doing so has serious and sometimes violent consequences, as illustrated by the rise in hate crimes against Latinos and the unprecedented number of threats against Obama.

We are committed to exposing those who disseminate misinformation that foments hate. Together, we took a stand, and our actions made a difference. Thank you for everything you do to combat bigotry and intolerance.

Richard Cohen photo Thank you for your support,
Richard Cohen
J. Richard Cohen
President, Southern Poverty Law Center

You can donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center online.

We welcome your feedback.
Contact us online.

Or by mail:
Southern Poverty Law Center
400 Washington Ave.
Montgomery, AL 36104

If you no longer wish to receive e-mails from us, please send an e-mail to:

Brian Levin and his one-man”Center for the Study of Hate”

October 28, 2009

Earlier posts on this blog pointed out how groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center use public relations press releases to craft their public image and propagate their ideology. While the SPLC pays its PR guru a six-digit salary to keep the tens of millions of donor dollars coming in, not every “watchdog” group has such deep pockets.

Take the case of Brian Levin, a professor and self-described “Director” of the “Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism” at California State University at San Bernardino (CSU/SB). That’s an extremely impressive title, however, all signs indicate that Mr. Levin is the entire staff of the “Center for the Study of Hate.”

There just doesn’t seem to be anyone else there for the “Director” to direct.

A brief view of the evidence does little to dispel this impression:

  • The “Center’s” web site languished for 8 years with virtually no updates since 2001.
  • Mr. Levin eventually updated the site in August, 2009, although, as of this writing, not much has changed on this site either.

Given that this is allegedly an academic center at a prestigious university, does it not seem just a little bit odd that in eight years the “Center” couldn’t assign a single staff member, intern or extra-credit seeking computer geek to maintain its most important public asset?

  • The staff directory, located on the home page of the web site, indicates NO staff.
  • The contact information listed on the site includes a telephone number to the main office of the Department of Criminal Justice at CSU/SB, not to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, and the only e-mail address is to Mr. Levin’s free AOL account.
  • The “Center’s” only other public manifestation, its blog, is hosted on a free blogger site, rather than a CSU/SB server.

Granted, I’m no expert on academic centers, but I’m pretty sure that if they have actual staff, at least one person would be tasked with answering the phone calls coming in to the center’s OWN telephone number, and e-mails would go to a address and NOT to a free AOL account.

Obviously, there is much to be said for free blog sites, (like this one), but you’d be hard put to find another academic center that relies on them.

  • Mr. Levin also issues press releases, much like his mentors and former employers, the SPLC, which tout his expertise and willingness to comment on the “hate” topic du jour, such as this one, dated October 21, 2009.
  • This “academic center” produces very little in the way of academic studies. When pressed, (see below), Mr. Levin can produce a string of articles published chiefly between 1992  and 2006, as well as a couple of book chapters, but all of them are authored by B. Levin.

Is there no one else at the “Center” producing academic research?

In August, 2009, I had a rare opportunity to discuss these issues with Mr. Levin, albeit indirectly. After posting the same observations made above in the comment section of an article featuring Mr. Levin’s comments in OC Weekly, I was surprised and gratified that the Director took time out of his busy day to rebut my accusations. (See the “comments” section here)

While not addressing me directly, Mr. Levin explained his side of the story.

  • “I don’t list a lot of the people who assist us (both professional and interns) because I don’t need them to be harassed by bigots too.”
  • “I won’t get into much detail about why I use my personal email or blogs, but it relates to web security and convenience.”
  • “I don’t think we put out many press releases, probably less than a dozen in ten years is my guess, but I haven’t checked.”
  • Mr. Levin produces an impressive list of university board members, (no one doubts that his “Center” is part of CSU/SB, just that it’s more than a one-man show), and an even longer list of distinguished advisers, none of whom have written anything under the aegis of the “Center for the Study of Hate.”

At the end of the day, after some rather clumsy efforts to smear the messenger, (“bigot,” “shadowy,” “white nationalist,” dishonest, etc.), Mr. Levin STILL fails to produce a single iota of proof that his “Center” is anything more than a classic Bernaysian front group.

What is so remarkable about Mr. Levin’s “Center” is that he doesn’t need it. Brian Levin is one of the most experienced people in his field, his recent work on the plight of homeless people is admirable.

Unlike his mentors at the SPLC, to my knowledge, Brian Levin has never solicited a single dime for himself or his center. Whatever his “Center” is doing for him, it’s not making him rich.

What Mr. Levin’s “Center” is doing for him is lending an aura of authority to his own personal opinions. There’s no real crime in this, perhaps, but any real news organization should be suspicious from the get-go. The front group is one of the oldest tricks in the PR book.

It’s also entirely possible that I’m completely wrong about the “Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism,” but given the available evidence, either Mr. Levin’s “Center” is a one-man show, or he has gone to great lengths, shunned all academic orthodoxy, in order to make it appear as one.

Mr. Levin… tear up this paper “Center”.

SPLC — Selective Indignation

October 20, 2009

When is a “hate group” not a “hate group”? When it affects the bottom line, of course.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which bills itself ceaselessly in its public relations press releases as “a leading civil rights” organization, is willing to turn a blind eye toward some of the most blatant and egregious forms of discrimination to avoid alienating their all-important donors.

One of the first domestic controversies President Obama encountered came in March, 2009, when he was offered the honorary presidency of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), an honor bestowed upon every president since William Taft. Gay rights groups rallied to urge the President to reject the title, as the BSA bans gays from becoming scout leaders.

According to the BSA’s official web site: (Note: This is an archived memo from the Internet Archives. It may take a few moments to load.)

“The BSA reaffirmed its view that an avowed homosexual cannot serve as a role model for the traditional moral values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law and that these values cannot be subject to local option choices.”

Seems clear enough: “Gays are not moral enough to be scout leaders.”

On its official web site, the SPLC states that:

“All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

Again, fairly plain English: “Hate groups malign entire classes of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

If ever there were a job custom made for America’s “leading civil rights organization,” this would be it. The PR spin practically writes itself:

  • The Boy Scouts accept federal funding, yet discriminate
  • Indoctrination of impressionable children
  • Paramilitary uniforms, weapons and survival training
  • The SPLC has some of the most prominent “anti-hate” lawyers in the country on its payroll and a war chest of over $151 MILLION donor dollars on hand

And yet, nary a word about this textbook “hate group” on the SPLC’s web site. They don’t even recognize the BSA as one of their 11 anti-gay groups.

In 2008, SPLC public relations guru, Mark Potok, received a Media Award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), for his reporting on gay issues in his “Intelligence Report.” Obviously, Potok cannot claim to be ignorant of the BSA’s blatantly anti-gay bias, so what gives?

The simplest answer is that many of the SPLC’s mostly elderly donor base were once Boy Scouts, as were their sons and grandsons. These donors send in tens of millions of dollars every year, over $30 million in the last fiscal year. Calling the BSA “haters” would reflect badly on all those former scouts.

Fighting “hate” is all well and good, until it threatens the bottom line.

In September, 2009, Potok began playing up the senseless murder of Marcelo Lucero on Long Island. The Ecuadorian immigrant was attacked by a group of teenaged thugs on the night of November 8, 2008, and Lucero died from the assault.

Less than a month later, and only a few miles away from where Lucero fell, another Ecuadorian immigrant, Jose Sucuzhanay, and his brother were walking home from a bar in Brooklyn when they too were attacked by a group of young thugs. The Sucuzhanay brothers were walking arm-in-arm on the cold night of December 7, which led the thugs to mistakenly believe that the two men were gay.

As the thugs beat Jose with an aluminum baseball bat, his brother Romel was able to escape and call the police. Jose died five days later in the hospital.

Two heinous crimes against Latino immigrants, one of which was incited by the mistaken belief that the victim was gay, and yet you will find almost nothing about the second case on the SPLC’s website. Why?

Because Jose Sucuzhanay’s murderers were black.

The SPLC rarely reports on crimes where the perps are non-white, and their donor base has no interest in hearing about attacks on gays, even when the victim is straight.

So the SPLC shoves the entire story down the Memory Hole and that’s the end of it.

Hypocrisy and greed triumph once again.

The SPLC’s “Hate Map” — The Biggest Lie

October 12, 2009

There are two old truisms regarding propaganda, (occasionally attributed to Hitler and Goebbels, respectively): “The people will accept a big lie more readily than a small lie, and “A lie, told often enough, becomes truth.”

Such is the case with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s infamous “Hate Map“.

The “Hate Map” is the primary responsibility of the SPLC’s public relations guru, Mark Potok, and is one of the keystones of that group’s multimillion dollar fund raising apparatus. The map serves as a simplified visual aid intended to document the SPLC’s “hate group” allegations, and is referenced frequently in media releases.

These claims are picked up by others and repeated, ad infinitum, with almost nobody bothering to actually look at the “data” provided.

  1. SPLC founder, Morris Dees, is the sole arbiter of what constitutes a “hate group”
  2. Even the FBI does not track “hate groups” as there is no legal definition for that term.
  3. Mark Potok has claimed on numerous occasions that “…a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality… [or] potential for violence…”Rather, as Potok put it, “It’s all about ideology.”
  4. On March 25, 2009, Potok told the San Luis Obispo Tribune that “…inclusion on the list might come from a minor presence, such as a post office box.”
  5. On July 6, 2009, Potok reported to that the “Intelligence Report, which Potok also writes and is the source of “data” for the “Hate Map,” …relies on media, citizen and law enforcement reports, and does not include original reporting by SLPC [sic] staff.”

So basically, the “Hate Map” primarily documents legal, non-violent groups whose only crime is to run afoul of Mo Dees’ ideology. “Groups” are identified by such scanty evidence as PO boxes and second hand information gleaned by Mark Potok’s glorified, $143,000 donor-dollar-a-year newsclipping service.

The 2008 iteration of Potok’s “Hate Map” makes the claim that SPLC has identified 926 “hate groups” in the US, based on the scrupulously scientific methods mentioned above. Almost every state in the union has at least one “hate group” according to Potok.

Even more alarming, Potok reports “a 54% increase since 2000.” Pretty scary stuff, until you realize that Potok’s job is to increase the numbers by 4-6% each year, whether the “groups” exist or not. Over the course of 8 years of this constant padding, hitting “54%” is no great feat.

Donors might be even more justifiably alarmed if they realized that the SPLC’s top three officers, Dees, Cohen and Levin, split between themselves more than $7 million donor dollars from the donation pot since 2000.

A small price to pay, no doubt, for such valuable information.

If one actually looks at Mr. Potok’s “Hate Map” for California, however, the state with the largest collection of alleged “hate groups,” you will immediately notice that the first 14 “groups” on the list are not affiliated with any locale. They merely exist in Mr. Potok’s mind, and serve to pad California’s alleged total by 17%.

One phantom group, the Golden State Skinheads, actually appears on the list twice!!! Remember the last time YOU saw an actual Skinhead?

Where exactly are the first 14 "groups" located?

Fourteen percent of Number 2 ranked Texas and 11% of Number 3 Florida‘s languish in limbo as well.

In some states, such as Wyoming, New Mexico and Maine, the number of unaffiliated, “phantom” groups is 100%. We know that these “hate groups” are really, really there, because the SPLC are experts, as Potok reminds us in every one of his PR press releases.

In all, 127 of Mr. Potok’s “hate groups” are homeless. They exist solely to pad the numbers.

On July 21, 2009, Potok commented in the  “Still, [Potok] said the public should remain vigilant about the activities of hate groups, even though individuals are responsible for the majority of hate crimes in America.”

So every year the number spurious “hate groups” rises predictably according to the SPLC’s rigid legal standards, (“It’s all about ideology!”), and every year Mark Potok dutifully records the latest round of second- and third-hand reports of marauding post office boxes, even though Potok admits that “lone wolves” are the biggest threat, not “hate groups.” And every year the media and the SPLC’s aging donor base lap up these spurious numbers as truth.

The lie gets bigger every year and is repeated ever farther afield and more often each year.

Every year the number of donor dollars increases, with more than $31 MILLION of them rolling in last year.

Somewhere, in the Seventh Level of Hell, Joe Goebbels is laughing.

SPLC Public Relations Guru: Mark Potok

September 8, 2009

Most Americans are completely unaware of the role professionally crafted press releases play in modern media. With shrinking news staffs and 24 hours-a-day news cycles, most news outlets find themselves with a lot of blank newsprint/airtime/website space to fill every day.

Many of these sites could not survive without PR press releases, which arrive in their e-mail pre-formatted, spell checked and pre-edited.

All the media outlet has to do is copy and paste, and voila! Instant content. Some will go as far as to slap a fig leaf on the release, in the form of a local “reporter” byline and maybe a local reference or two, but most won’t perform even the most rudimentary fact checks before passing the press release on as “news”.

In effect, special interest groups get to write their own “news” articles about themselves. The Southern Poverty Law Center is no exception. The SPLC sends out print and video press releases on a regular basis via paid public relations firms like PRNewswire, USNewswire, and Taylor Media Services (TMS).

These press releases are then picked up by news aggregators like the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters, which pass them along to their thousands of customers without checking a single fact. In fact, at this point, the press release, written by the special interest groups themselves, now picks up an AP or Reuters byline, giving the entire bogus document a patina of credibility.

Now, if you’re going to write your own news articles you’ll want to have them written by a pro, especially when there are hundreds of millions of donor dollars at stake. The SPLC hired former freelance reporter Mark Potok.

Potok has been writing PR copy for the SPLC for a dozen years, despite having no legal or law enforcement background. He must be doing something right as the SPLC’s “Endowment Fund” tallied over $200 million donor dollars in 2007, (although it too was a victim of the current recession and now languishes at a mere $151 million.)

For his modest efforts, Potok is compensated with more than $143,000 donor dollars each year, according to page 40 the SPLC’s most recent IRS Form 990. For that kind of money, it’s little wonder Mr. Potok sees “hate groups” behind every rock and tree. There’s gold in them thar “haters”.

So efficient is Mr. Potok in promoting the SPLC’s latest fund raising “news stories” that almost everything you read, see or hear about the SPLC will have been written, in part or in total, by Mark Potok or a member of his staff.

When you read that the SPLC is a “premier civil rights watchdog” or that Mark Potok is a “civil rights expert,” you’re reading the words of Mark Potok. Every press release Potok writes will include a similar reference, conferring an air of authority to whatever denunciations or smears he is uttering at the time.

Is this illegal? No. All special interest groups and money making organizations do it. The problem with such a system is that 99% of the public have no idea that the vast majority of “news” they consume is actually skillfully crafted advertising copy.

%d bloggers like this: