The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
The headlines — widely circulated on social media and a variety of right-wing websites — certainly are attention-grabbing: “Fox News Designated Hate Group by Southern Poverty Law Center” and “Juggalos Classified As Hate Group By Southern Poverty Law Center.” And many of the posts promoting the pieces on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere clearly seem to take them at face value.
There’s a big problem, though: The stories are complete fakes.
The Fox News piece was published earlier this week at a satirical “news” site called the Free Wood Post, where the motto is: “News That’s Almost Reliable.” The post contained no links to any such SPLC report because, of course, none existed.
That didn’t stop the Free Wood Post from doing its thing. “Their hatred was tolerated for a long time as freedom of expression,” the site said dramatically of the news channel, “which they are still free to do, however, the time has come to no longer ignore their obvious bigotry broadcast to millions of like-minded folks, and label them what they are — a hate group.”
Needless to say, Fox News has never come under consideration for hate-group status by the SPLC, nor is it ever likely to. A news channel, by definition, includes many voices with many different opinions — even if those displayed on Fox are virtually all conservative — and so it is fundamentally different from a group whose members all sign on to the same ideology. Nonetheless, by Thursday, the post about Fox News had garnered over 30,000 shares on Facebook.
You’d think folks might have figured out that the story was a spoof. After all, the site carries a pretty clear disclaimer: “Free Wood Post is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within FreeWoodPost.com are fiction, and presumably fake news.” But enormous numbers didn’t.
Similarly, the Juggalos piece, which ran before the Fox News tale, first appeared in a post at another satirical “news” site, the National Report. That site uses a url beginning with “nytimes.com.co,” leading many to assume that the story actually originated with The New York Times, whose url is similar but not the same.
Juggalos is the name used by members of the fan club of the hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse, who are known for making controversial comments.
The story said, in part: “The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified Juggalo’s [sic] as a hate group among 17 states including the entire Midwest (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio), in addition to California, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oregon.”
That, too, was laughably false. While the members of Insane Clown Posse do indeed make incendiary and insensitive remarks, they fall far short of the behavior — namely, having “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics” — that earns a hate-group designation by the SPLC. Moreover, there were some pretty obvious clues. The story claimed the SPLC was asking citizens to “keep an eye open” for a list of behaviors including “Making or responding to a ‘whoop whoop’ call” and “Drinking or spraying their enemies with Faygo (an inexpensive soda).”
However, at least one right-wing blogger — Jay Syrmopoulos at the Free Thought Project — initially succumbed to the hoax and published a breathless post that swallowed the entire tale whole. Afterward, upon learning that the piece was satire, he edited the story to indicate that the source of information was a spoof, but redirecting his ire at the FBI, which had classified the Juggalos as a gang. “This is the level of absurdity to which our government has risen,” he raged. “They have criminalized an entire fan base with a blanket label over anyone displaying typical rabid fanatic behavior… hence the term fan, short for fanatic!”
Contacted by the SPLC, Syrmopoulos, who is described in his author summary as an “investigative journalist,” was defiant: “The reality is that the SPLC isn’t an unbiased research organization, but rather a leftist anti-hate activist group masquerading as a center of legitimate, academically sound research,” he huffed. “Sadly your group is so extremist that the story, as farcical as it was, seemed totally plausible given the SPLC’s track record, hence me being duped. On a side note, upon realizing the story was satire I changed the title to state that it was satire and added an update apologizing to my readers and explaining how I was duped. Any other changes made to the piece or title after that did not involve consultation with me.”
“We have no beef with people writing satirical articles, and in fact enjoy satire as much as anyone,” said Mark Potok, the SPLC senior fellow who wrote Syrmopoulos. “But it says something important about today’s right-wing media that so many are snookered so easily, and by such transparently false and ridiculous narratives. The ‘investigative journalist’ and others who credulously repeated these fairy tales as if they were actually true really ought to take up a different line of work, one that doesn’t require such mental effort.”
Sites such as National Report and Freewood Post are symptomatic of what many observers see as a growing problem on the Internet: the proliferation of fake news sites that, as the Washington Post put it, “profit — handsomely, in some cases — from duping gullible Internet users with deceptively newsy headlines. Their business model is both simple and devastatingly effective: Employ a couple unscrupulous freelancers to write fake news that’s surprising or enraging or weird enough to go viral on Facebook; run display ads against the traffic; gleefully cash in.”
And it helps, of course, to have gullible “journalists” out there to help them along.
Ann Coulter was back in the news again this week following racist comments she made during an interview with Fusion TV host Jorge Ramos. Coulter claimed the Mexican culture is “deficient” and went on to claim that part of Mexican culture includes “uncles raping their nieces.” Such quotes are nothing new for Coulter, who uses her mainstream popularity as a platform to spread white nationalist messages and ideas to a large audience.
Over the past few decades, other white nationalist ideologues such as Pat Buchanan and Sam Francis (before his death) have been publicly denounced and marginalized. The main question for TV networks and newspaper columns is why are they not doing the same to Coulter? If one looks at her quotes throughout the years, many strikingly similar things have been uttered by neo-Nazis and hardcore white nationalists. Yet Coulter remains in the mainstream.
In an interview with Sean Hannity last year, Coulter scoffed, “But unfortunately for liberals, there is no racism in America. There is more cholera in America than there is racism. But they have to invent it.” Sadly, Coulter is very much mistaken. Racism is alive and well in America today and Coulter is doing her part to spread it.
Below is a selection of racist quotes from Coulter juxtaposed with similar quotes from other members of the radical right:
One may assume the new majority will not be such compassionate overlords as the white majority has been. If this sort of drastic change were legally imposed on any group other than white Americans, it would be called genocide. Yet whites are called racists merely for mentioning the fact that current immigration law is intentionally designed to reduce their percentage in the population. (From AnnCoulter.com)
“I think there are cultures that are obviously deficient. And if they weren’t deficient, you wouldn’t be sitting in America interviewing me — I’d be sitting in Mexico.” (Coulter in Politico)
“Multiculturalism, which subordinates successful Euro-American culture to dysfunctional Third World cultures, keeps gaining ground against surprisingly weak opposition.” – White nationalist John Vinson, founding member of the neo-Confederate hate group League of the South
“You fled that culture because there are a lot of problems with that culture. We can share our culture with other nations without bringing all of their people here. When you bring the people here, you bring those cultures here. That includes honor killings, it includes uncles raping their nieces, it includes dumping litter all over, it includes not paying your taxes, it includes paying bribes to government officials. That isn’t our culture.” (Coulter in Politico)
Statistics repeatedly prove that ILLEGAL ALIENS, first committing a criminal act by violating our borders and then bringing their values and culture to our midst, are major contributors to our mounting financial burdens as well as moral and social decay.” – Barbara Coe, former head of the anti-immigrant hate group California Coalition for Immigration Reform
“I think our motto should be, post-9/11, ‘Raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.” (Coulter in CNSnews)
“A bunch of towel head/sand niggers put our great White Movement to shame” – Neo-Nazi Rocky Suhayda
“But unfortunately for liberals, there is no racism in America. There is more cholera in America than there is racism. But they have to invent it.” (Coulter in Newshounds)
The ten-minute “debate” descended into little more than a shouting match between Hannity and Choudary – a man who has praised the 9/11 attackers and claims he would renounce his British citizenship to live under ISIS rule. Over the past decade, Choudary’s Al-Muhajiroun network (also known under different names) is responsible for radicalizing countless Muslims in the UK. A 2013 report by the anti-racist organization HOPE not hate, identified over seventy people linked with Choudary’s network who have been convicted of terrorism charges or who have participated in suicide attacks. The report also found that “al-Muhajiroun-connected groups across Europe have sent between 200-300 people to Syria, making it the largest single recruiting network in Europe.”
Choudary told Hannity that he believes Muslims who leave their faith should be subject to capital punishment, and restated his belief that gays and lesbians who “do the act publicly” in front of witnesses should also be subjected to the death penalty.
Geller, the founder of a number of organizations listed by the SPLC as hate groups, used the debate to continue playing the victim – blaming “jihadis” for making the attack at Geller’s Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, a “flashpoint.” Geller also claimed she has had to increase her security because President Obama “created an environment that raised the stakes on this” – before citing a previous anti-Muslim event she hosted in 2012 that took place without incident. On a previous appearance on Fox earlier this week, Geller absurdly compared herself to civil rights activist Rosa Parks.
Hannity’s debate not only gave a platform to two extremists, but it also, more disturbingly, succeeded in making Pamela Geller sound rational when compared to Choudary’s rants. The mainstreaming of hate is a very dangerous thing that has very real consequences and Hannity and Fox News should be taken to task for this move. No matter how either figure fared on prime time last night, the fact remains that both Geller and Choudary represent two sides of the same racist coin and giving these figures a platform to express their bigoted views tarnishes efforts to build a more inclusive democracy.
Editor’s Note: In light of the building controversy over the truthfulness of Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who has been accused of lying about reporting from a “war zone” and about hearing a friend of Lee Harvey Oswald commit suicide, Hatewatch has decided to republish a Feb. 27, 2014, post about the host of “The O’Reilly Factor.” The post describes two encounters between O’Reilly and Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Fellow Mark Potok, along with the details of a completely fictitious story aired by O’Reilly in 2007 that claimed the nation was being terrorized by gangs of pink pistol-toting lesbians.
Oh, Really, Bill? Once Again, O’Reilly Can’t Admit a Mistake
A week ago today, I went on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” show, where I was asked if anti-black racism was on the rise. I answered in what seemed to me a calm way, relying on actual research rather than offering a mere opinion.
“I think the best data shows that in fact anti-black racism has risen over the last four or five years,” I told Burnett, according to her website. “There’s polling that shows that both implicit and explicit anti-black attitudes among American whites have gone up quite significantly between 2008 and 2012, to the point where now more than half of white Americans have these anti-black attitudes.”
Over at Fox News, that didn’t go over so well with Bill O’Reilly. Here’s what O’Reilly said on “The O’Reilly Factor” the very next day, according to an E-mail his producer just sent me with the “official” transcript of the show: “No, it’s simply not true, all right. We looked at the AP study that Mr. Potok cited and it’s not even close to being true. So, we suggest that Mr. Potok reread the study and stop demonizing white America for being racist because that’s insane. There are racists — every color, every creed. But to the [sic] zero in that, somehow, in America, white people are becoming more anti-black when you don’t even read the study properly. I want everybody to go to the Associated Press and punch it up, pinhead of the week, all right.” And he designated me as his “Pinhead of the Week.”
Not even close to being true? Let’s check in first with the original 2012 report from The Associated Press, which commissioned the poll that was conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan, Stanford University, and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.
The AP story reporting the results was headlined, “The Big Story: AP Poll: Majority harbor prejudice against blacks.” And here’s the bottom line under that unambiguous headline: “In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election.”
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Hurricane Isaac has inconvenienced a lot of people.
Many thousands of Gulf Coast residents have boarded up windows and sought shelter inland. And many others are now facing the prospect of cleaning up and rebuilding flooded homes and businesses.
But the inconvenienced people we’ve been hearing about most are the pundits and politicians who gathered in Tampa this week for the Republican National Convention. ( continue to full post… )
Through countless diagrams and diatribes, chalk-wielding Fox News commentator Glenn Beck has made it his mission to inform his audience that left-wing progressives are purportedly on the brink of revolution. Many of Beck’s fans take him seriously. In the past two years, at least three have decided the best response to his warnings is violence.
Kenneth B. Kimbley Jr. of Spirit Lake, Idaho, is the latest to face prison time for interpreting Beck’s rants as a call to action.
Kimbley claims to be the leader of the Brotherhood of America Patriots, an extreme-right militia whose mission, he says, is to “resist in the event the government started rounding up the patriots” and to stand up in the face of foreign invasions or societal breakdowns. (Authorities believe Kimbley’s group was tiny.) At the time of his arrest in July, Kimbley had 20,000 rounds of ammunition, a stock of firearms, and materials he planned to use to construct grenades, according to court documents.
According to the Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash., Kimbley’s lawyer described her client as a man with strong political views who posed no real danger to society. “In fact, everything said by Mr. Kimbley is no different than what his idol, TV commentator Glenn Beck, typically states on the air,” public defender Kim Deater wrote in court papers.
Cranking up his doomsday predictions to a new fever pitch, Glenn Beck this week warned that by January some 75 million Americans could be starving.
“[B]race yourself. We went to two or three experts yesterday,” the Fox News Channel host said in his Wednesday radio broadcast. “[O]ne of them said that by next year a quarter of this nation will not be able to afford food. … [I]s it going to happen? At some point, yes. When? I don’t know. I just ask you to please prepare. … Experts are now telling me that it’s happening next year.”
Beck, who for years has counseled listeners to hoard food, has long been warning that a shortage could be right around the corner — just one of many dire predictions, typically related to government malfeasance or related end-times scenarios, that have made Beck a hero of much of the radical right. Now he’s suggesting that the scary corner could be a mere six weeks away. ( continue to full post… )
Unsurprisingly, Glenn Beck’s 9.12 Project has absorbed much of its founder’s famous paranoia. Based on Beck’s fevered lectures and paid endorsements, legions of 9.12’ers have eagerly bought up overpriced gold coins, non-hybrid seeds, and lots of ammo for use in 9.12 Project practice shoots. But not even the most skeptical and bemused observer of 9.12 culture could have seen the latest trend which may see 9.12’ers stocking up on an unlikely survival tool in preparation for the coming Obamapocalypse: very thick underwear.
On his Sept. 27 show, Beck found time in between exercises in connect-the-dots conspiracizing to discuss something called the Z Backscatter Van (ZBV), a mobile X-ray scanning device produced by the Massachusetts firm American Science & Engineering. After reading about the product in Forbes, Beck was confident that the Obama Administration had ordered intelligence and law enforcement agencies to purchase this technology — which can determine from a distance the general contents of parked cars and duffle bags — with nefarious ends in mind.
“They’re using them now in your neighborhoods,” warned Beck. “And the Obama administration won’t say exactly why we’re buying their vans and driving them down our streets.” ( continue to full post… )
Gravelly voiced conspiracy theorist Alex Jones touts himself as one of the few daring souls willing to tell the “truth” about 9/11 being an inside job, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s plans to intern dissidents in “death camps,” and the “New World Order” plot to exterminate 80% of the world’s population. The Austin, Texas-based radio host suggests that he is a lone voice “in the wilderness” of a corporate media too cowardly to tell the truth about looming disaster.
But at least one member of that media has shown Jones nothing but love. Judge Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial analyst for Fox News and host of the Fox Business program “Freedom Watch,” calls Jones a “dear friend” who is “doing more than anybody I know” to “educate the public” with “courage and fearlessness.” Jones responds by calling Napolitano the “best person” on national TV. Last Friday, according to liberal watchdog Media Matters for America, Napolitano was on Jones’ show for at least the sixth time, and promised to soon bring Jones on to “Freedom Watch,” which he announced was expanding from the weekend to weekdays.
Maybe they’ll get a chance to discuss a Jones theory that’s a little more racially charged than much of his usual fare: a purported secret plan on the part of undocumented Mexican immigrants to murder all whites over 16. ( continue to full post… )
The media watchdog Media Matters for America today released audio of an interview conducted with Byron Williams, the would-be terrorist who last July was arrested after a shootout with cops on his way to San Francisco, where he allegedly planned to kill employees at the offices of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation.
The interview and the accompanying article, by Pacifica Radio producer John Hamilton, illuminates the role Fox News and specifically Fox host Glenn Beck played in turning Williams’ attention toward the groups and convincing him that they were at the center of a vast plot to destroy the country.
“I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn’t for the fact that Beck was on there,” Williams tells Hamilton. “And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind.” ( continue to full post… )