Former Reagan AG slams ‘journalistic malpractice’ and Southern Poverty Law Center

By Will Ricciardella

Ed Meese, former attorney general in the Reagan administration, took aim at the media and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Wednesday for describing the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as a “hate group.”

“The designation had nothing to do with the law firm’s policies or behavior. It’s just that the SPLC objects to its traditional views on the Constitution, the First Amendment and the meaning of marriage. No responsible media outlet should parrot the SPLC’s hate list without seeking to understand not only its motives but also the consequences of spreading false charges,” Meese wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

The ADF is a Christian civil rights group dedicated to protecting religious liberty, and advocating for traditional marriage, attracting the left’s ire. The group is currently representing a Colorado baker for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple on religious freedom grounds. The Supreme Court will hear the high profile case next term.

Under the headline “Attorney General Jeff Sessions Criticized For Speaking To Hate Group,” NBC reported Jeff Sessions as giving a speech “to an organization designated as a “hate group” by a “prominent civil rights watchdog.”

ABC‘s headline was far more definitive, declaring “Jeff Sessions Addresses ‘Anti-LQBT Hate Group’ DOJ Won’t Release His Remarks.”

Wikimedia Commons

Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights litigation group, has come under fire for its habit of labeling conservatives as “hate” groups.
is located in Montgomery, Alabama.

CNN referred to the ADF as a “self-described Christian religious freedom advocacy group known for anti-gay stances.”

The SPLC’s describes its Intelligence Project as being “internationally known for tracking and exposing the activities of hate groups and other domestic extremists,” as well as “expos[ing] their activities to the public, the media and law enforcement.”

Mark Potok, the editor-in-chief of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, has said previously that “Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on … I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.”

Meese described the ADF as a “respected civil-rights law firm.” For him, the SPLC designating them as a “hate group,” and the media parroting the assertion, was the last straw.

“As the last election showed, Americans no longer trust the media—and this is a prime reason,” Meese said. “ABC’s and NBC’s decision to give credence to the SPLC’s recklessly defamatory hate list was journalistic malpractice. If reporters want to regain public trust, they must stop spreading malignant propaganda and instead demonstrate a commitment to fairness and objectivity.”

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