47 Conservative Groups Urge Media to Stop Using SPLC and Its 'Hate List' as Legitimate Source

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)The headquarters of the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.

A coalition of 47 conservative organizations are urging news outlets, such as CNN, to stop using the Southern Poverty Law Center and its so-called "hate group" map as a source for information.

In an open letter released Wednesday, the conservative leaders said the news media should stop using the SPLC's data due to the Montgomery, Alabama-based organization's vilification of Christians, conservative advocacy groups, as well as individuals who speak out against radical Islam, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Muslim activist Maajid Nawaz.

"To associate public interest law firms and think tanks with neo-Nazis and the KKK is unconscionable, and represents the height of irresponsible journalism," the letter reads in part.

"All reputable news organizations should immediately stop using the SPLC's descriptions of individuals and organizations based on its obvious political prejudices."

The letter describes the SPLC as "an attack dog of the political left" that uses its reputation as a civil right group to defame well-meaning conservatives.

"For years, experts and journalists have cast doubt on the integrity of the SPLC's methodology and the motives of its founder, Morris Dees," the letter continues."Given the above points, and most alarmingly that the SPLC's 'hate group' propaganda has been linked to two terrorist shootings in the D.C. area, we respectfully request that you cease using the SPLC's data and its various lists and maps in your reporting."

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(Photo: Screengrab via WTVR)Mug shot of Floyd Lee Corkins II.

Signatories of the letter include Media Research Center President L. Brent Bozell III; Family Research Council President Tony Perkins; Liberty Counsel founder and Chairman Mat Staver; Alliance Defending Freedom President Michael Farris; ACT for America founder and Chariman Brigitte Gabriel; Traditional Values Coalition President Andre Lafferty; and World Net Daily CEO Joseph Farah, among others.

The SPLC, according to the Weekly Standard, received over $45 million in contributions in 2016 and "invests almost 20 percent of its nearly $320 million endowment fund in offshore equities and other investments," according to its 2016 annual report.

Founded in 1971 to help with legal battles against groups like the KKK, in recent years the SPLC has garnered controversy for its designation of many conservative groups and individuals as hateful.

Critics have accused the SPLC of inciting violence against conservative individuals and organizations, linking them to the 2012 Family Research Council office shooting and the student protests against Charles Murray at Middlebury College earlier this year.

Following the shooting at the Family Research Council, the SPLC issued a statement saying that its organization "deplores all violence, and our thoughts are with the wounded victim, Leo Johnson, his family and others who lived through the attack."

"We have argued consistently that violence is no answer to problems in a democratic society, and we have strongly criticized all those who endorse such violence, whether on the political left or the political right," the SPLC stated in 2012.

This is not the first time that conservatives have implored mainstream news media to refrain from using the SPLC as an authoritative source.

In July, the Alliance Defending Freedom demanded that ABC News issue an apology for running a story that referred to the conservative law firm as a "hate group" based upon the SPLC's classification.

"For ABC News to essentially cut and paste false charges against Alliance Defending Freedom by a radically left-wing, violence-inciting organization like Southern Poverty Law Center is a discredit to ABC News and to the profession," ADF's legal counsel and spokesperson Kerri Kupec said.

"Southern Poverty Law Center spends its time and money attacking veterans, nuns, Muslims who oppose terrorism, Catholics, evangelicals, and anyone else who dares disagree with its far-left ideology."

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