If you’re looking for someone to come on your program and bash conservatives – especially in the wake of an incident such as Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing – the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok is your man.
On CNN’s Piers Morgan Live Tuesday, Potok disgracefully said the perpetrator of Monday's attack likely wasn't a member of the "radical right" because the target wasn't "black people or Jewish people or gay people or Muslims" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The journalists of Good Morning America on Tuesday pointed a speculative finger in the wake of the Boston bombing. An ABC graphic wondered, "Could this be homegrown terror?" In a segment full of guesses, reporter Pierre Thomas featured leftist Mark Potok, the man who labeled the Family Research Council (FRC) a "hate group."
Regarding the date that the explosion occurred on, Potok linked, "The real Patriots Day is April 19th. That is the date that counts for people on the extreme right in the United States." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Other than Potok, no other expert voices were featured in the segment. News anchor Josh Elliott backed up Potok's assertions, theorizing, "One big clue could be Monday's date, April 15th. The anniversaries of some of the most harrowing incidents in domestic terror are coming this week." Thomas then went on to highlight David Koresh and the Oklahoma City bombing. The justification? They also happened in April.
At the same time that rising Republican Senate stars Rand Paul and Ted Cruz were making history with a filibuster Chris Matthews, on Wednesday's Hardball, insisted Paul and Cruz must be heroes to hate groups.
During a segment on the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center's new study about an increase of anti-government hate groups, Matthews demanded which politicians they supported: "Who do they root for?! They don't root for Rand Paul? Pat Buchanan? I mean who? They must like this new guy Ted Cruz. They must love Ted Cruz, c'mon!" (video after the jump)
Mark Potok of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center claimed on Monday's Newsroom on CNN that radical Islam wasn't "our biggest domestic terror threat," that instead, "that pretty clearly comes from the radical right in this country." Anchor Suzanne Malveaux touted Potok as "expert on extremism" from "one of the most highly regarded non-governmental operations that are monitoring hate groups."
Malveaux brought on the SPLC spokesman at the bottom of the 12 noon Eastern hour to discuss the upcoming hearings by the House Homeland Security Committee on the radicalization of American Muslims. The anchor first asked him, "From your study of tracking radical groups, potentially hate groups, what do you think of this hearing? Is al Qaeda radicalizing Muslims? Is that our biggest homegrown terrorism threat right now?"
Potok replied with his "radical right" claim, and went on to criticize the chairman of the House committee, Rep. Peter King:
MSNBC's Chris Jansing, referencing a report by the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on "active U.S. hate groups," asked Wednesday if the rise of radical right-wing groups coincided with the motives behind Jared Loughner's assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
When asked about the "hate groups" report, guest Mark Potok of the SPLC immediately pointed to the rise of "radical right-wing groups" and attributed the rise to "resentment over the changing racial demographics," "frustration over the lagging economy," and "mainstreaming of conspiracy theories."
"The economy since the fall of 2008, of course, has really played into this in terms of unemployment, anger with the bailouts, and so on," added Potok. "It's really ginned-up anti-government feeling, in many ways."
Rick Sanchez, who was fired from his Rick's List program on CNN on Friday, certainly racked up a record of liberal bias, specifically bias against conservatives, during his tenure at the network. Sanchez also revealed a propensity for making on-air gaffes which made him a targets of comedians like Jon Stewart. It was the former anchor's animosity toward Stewart which directly led to his firing.
In late 2008, the CNN anchor gained the 3 pm Eastern time slot of CNN's Newsroom, which would evolve into his Rick's List program. He consistently targeted conservative media outlets from that time until his firing.
ED HENRY: "Fox, Bloomberg, and National Public Radio were vying for it- all made strong cases. In the end, Fox [was] unanimously moved up to the front row, but did not get the seat Helen Thomas was in. We voted unanimously to move the Associated Press over to where Helen Thomas was because what a lot of people were missing in this whole fight was that"- BROOKE BALDWIN: "And it is a fight"- HENRY: "Yeah"- BALDWIN: "Which is fascinating, for those of us who don't understand the inner workings of the"- HENRY: "Sure, and then we can walk through the whole"- SANCHEZ: "Well, I understand the Associated Press. I even understand Bloomberg, but don't have you to be a news organization to get that seat?" HENRY: "Oh! Are you saying Fox is not a news organization?" SANCHEZ: "Yeah. I'm just wondering." -Exchange with CNN correspondents Ed Henry, a member of the board of the White House Correspondents Association, and Brooke Baldwin, August 2, 2010 [see video above]. Almost a year earlier, Sanchez hinted Fox News wasn't a "real news organization."
Rick Sanchez, who hosts his Rick's List program for two hours during the afternoon on CNN, will be taking on the network's 8 pm Eastern hour slot for several weeks between Campbell Brown's departure on Wednesday and the start of the ex-Democratic Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer (the infamous Client #9) and sometime-conservative Kathleen Parker's new program.
Sanchez will likely bring his two-year record of liberal bias to his temporary gig. Some of the worst examples from the Media Research Center's archives:
Targeting Fox News and Conservative Talk Radio
In late 2008, the CNN anchor gained the 3 pm Eastern time slot of CNN's Newsroom, which would evolve into his Rick's List program. Over the past year and a half, he has consistently targeted conservative media outlets.
"That weekend tragedy involves a man who allegedly shot and killed three police officers in cold blood. Why? Because he was convinced, after no doubt watching Fox News and listening to right-wing radio, that quote, 'Our rights were being infringed upon.'" -From CNN Newsroom, April 8, 2009. Sanchez blamed conservative news outlets for the murder of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Why does the mainstream media keep trotting out the Boy Who Cried Right-Wing Terrorist?
Better known as Mark Potok of the hard-left Southern Poverty Law Center, he has been trumpeted by a number of media outlets seeking to promote the notion that "right-wingers" are lurking behind every corner to overthrow the federal government.
The fact that he is consistently wrong about, well, just about everything -- from the political views of the supposed right wingers to the supposedly violent nature of conservative groups to the mere presence of violent crime -- does not seem to dissuade Old Media from using him to smear conservatives.
Potok's latest target for fear-mongering is a group called the Oathkeepers. The group consists of military veterans who pledge not to follow orders that would result in the violation of Americans' constitutional rights. I know, this is really radical, extremist, right-wing nutjob stuff.
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center was interviewed all over the liberal and hard-left media in the last week. On Tuesday, he appeared on Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now show to talk about the harsh tone of calling Obama a fascist -- even as they approvingly played audio of Rep. Louise Slaughter comparing her Republican colleagues to Mussolini for encouraging protesters:
I could not believe, last Sunday, probably one of the most beautiful days the Lord has made, was really destroyed for all of us by the actions that took place on the Capitol grounds....
And some of my colleagues went out on the balcony, looking a great deal like Mussolini, if you remember, those of us who are of a certain age, egging them on with megaphones, holding up signs saying “Kill.” Some of my African American colleagues—the great icon of civil rights, John Lewis, was harassed by people with very petty and small minds.
Potok was asked how this compared to the atmosphere before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and of course, he found similarities. He argued that the right-wing reaction here is like the protests against the end of American slavery, the granting of women's suffrage, and large-scale Catholic immigration:
Liberals in the media have been busy parading around Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center to bash the right. As befits his organization's MO, Potok, pictured right in a file photo, has done the best he can to link recently-arrested militia members to the Tea Party movement and conservatism generally.
Potok's job may have just gotten a bit harder, and the liberal media may need to find another way to discredit their political opponents. It turns out most of the militiamen were active voters, and at least one was a registered Democrat. Party registrations for the rest are not yet known.
The new facts undermine Potok's thinly-veiled suggestions that Republican politicians and conservative pundits are at least indirectly responsible for militia activity. NPR, Keith Olbermann, and Chris Matthews may need to find a new issue with which to slander the right (h/t Prof. Reynolds).
On Tuesday night's Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews invited Mark Potok of the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center to estimate when all this frightening and hateful anti-government militia talk started. Potok argued it began with Ronald Reagan, and his supposed description of "the federal government as a kind of enemy."
Matthews said one could be concerned about government growing too large, "But then there are people who've taken up arms. There are people who are worried about the black helicopters. There are people that think now not that government's a problem but government's the enemy, that it's foreign, that it's almost like the old Kremlin wall, you know? They think of it as hostile. When did that start, Mark?"
The leftist Southern Poverty Law Center is a National Public Radio staple in analyzing right-wing militia groups -- and then connecting them to the Tea Party movement and conservative talk-show hosts.
Imagine a conservative group connecting liberal talk-show hosts and protesters to radical leftists like...Bill Ayers. Would they get a baldly promotional interview on NPR? No. But NPR Fresh Air hostess Terry Gross both aided the SPLC with a 37-minute promotional interview on March 25 -- and aided Bill Ayers in trashing Sarah Palin days after the 2008 election.
NPR promoted SPLC's Mark Potok and his narrative of "astounding" growth of militias in the Obama era thanks to "ostensibly mainstream" conservatives on All Things Considered on Tuesday night.
Liberal TV show host? Want to guarantee that the post-Stack finger will be pointed at conservatives? Choose as your sole guest on the subject someone from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center. That's precisely what Chris Matthews did this evening, with utterly predictable results.
Right on script, SPLC director Mark Potok twice associated Austin plane-bomber Andrew Stack with "the radical right."
How consciously did Matthews stack the deck? He described the SPLC as a group "which monitors extremists"—as if the SPLC looks for wackos on the left as well as the right.
On Monday’s American Morning, CNN’s Jim Acosta rehashed a three-month-old report from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center about the apparent rise in militia activity in the U.S., and extensively featured a militia from Michigan whose members purportedly “could not specify which of their constitutional rights are being peeled away.”
Acosta didn’t use any specific ideological labels to classify the militias during his report, which aired just before the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour, but it was clear that the featured militia, the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, held right-of-center views, as its members expressed concern about gun rights, anti-Obama sentiment, and even flew the yellow Gadsden flag (with its “Don’t Tread on Me” slogan) featured at Tea Party protests. The Gadsden flag showed up in many of the clips of the militia during the CNN correspondent’s report, which was the first in a series titled “Patriots or Extremists.” The Tea Party tie was reenforced with a shot of a truck of one of the militia members, which had a sticker of the famous “Obama as the Joker” image on it.
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez and guest Mark Potok of the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center concluded that there was a “disconcerting” infiltration of militia groups into tea party and health care town hall protests during a segment on Thursday’s Newsroom. The two focused on the appearance of armed people at these events, and one individual’s apparent connection to a militia which plotted violence.
Sanchez interviewed Potok at the bottom of the 3 pm Eastern hour on how Ernest Hancock, a Ron Paul supporter and online radio host, reportedly defended the members of a militia called the Viper Team. Hancock also interviewed an acquaintance of his who openly-carried an AR-15 near a venue where President Obama was speaking. Before introducing Potok, the CNN anchor used a clip from a former Secret Service agent he interviewed to hint that Hancock and his acquaintance were “gun nuts.” He then played a clip of the rifle-carrying individual himself, who railed against taxation which redistributed wealth and a tyranny of the majority: “I want this and that, this and that, and I’ll just vote and take it from you. The burden of all this thievery gets too thick.....we will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote.” Sanchez then implied that these words were a threat of violence: “Somehow, the words ‘forcefully resist’ coming from a man with an AR-15 outside a presidential event is just a little unsettling.”
ABC News correspondent Brian Ross tried to connect the health care town hall protesters to hate groups on Friday’s GMA. Ross cited the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose left-wing political affiliation he omitted, and used two sound bites from the SPLC’s Mark Potok, who hyped that President Obama supposedly “triggered fears among...white people...that they are somehow losing their country.”
The ABC News correspondent led his report just after the beginning of the 7 am Eastern hour by underlining how it’s apparently been a “very ugly week as the rhetoric about the President and the threats against him have deeply worried the people who track this country’s hate groups.” After summarizing how police in Los Angeles arrested a man suffering from “mental problems” for making threats against the White House, and how the case is apparently part of a “disturbing pattern,” Ross played his first clip from Potok, who emphasized, “I don’t think that these are simply people who are mentally ill or...you know, kind of off their rockers. I think that...in a very real sense, they represent a genuine reaction- a genuine backlash against Obama.”
SANCHEZ: Since the administration of Barack Obama began in this country, has there been a heightened sense of any kind of hate? We first started discovering this last night in one of the interviews we did.
But before we do that, I want to show you something now. I want you to just write down some numbers. These are hate groups in the United States, all right? Let's start with the first year. I think we're going to start with the year 2000 -- 602 hate groups at the time in the United States, as counted by the best resource on this, by the way, the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Now let's go to 2007. Uh-oh. It's going up, 888. Now let's go to 2008. Uh-oh. Going up again, 926.
Minutes later, Sanchez interviewed Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center:
POTOK: Well, as you suggested in your intro, there have been quite a growth over the last eight years.
Until about a year ago, that growth was driven almost entirely by these groups pushing the immigration issue and especially the idea that people with brown skin are kind of coming to destroy our country. In the last year, though, we have seen several other factors come into play, you know, the assent, obviously, of Barack Obama, the announcement by the Census Bureau that whites will lose their majority in this country along about the year 2042, and the crashing economy and worsening unemployment.
On Wednesday’s Newsroom program, a report by CNN correspondent Joe Johns, along with a subsequent interview by anchor Rick Sanchez, raised the implication that anti-illegal immigration rhetoric, particularly from conservatives, might be partially to blame for a spike in so-called hate crimes against Latinos. During a clip in Johns’ report, which was about the recent murder of an immigrant from Ecuador by teenagers, columnist Ruben Navarrette speculated that "[w]hen people go out on the airwaves or in print or at the stump as a politician, and they beat that drum, they shouldn’t be surprised. At the end of the day, many people out there, and particularly young people, who are very impressionable, think, ‘Hey, you know what? This is one group we can do this to.’" At the end of his report, Johns added that "[t]he question that’s already being raised by activist groups in the newspapers is whether anti-immigrant rhetoric has created a climate for this kind of thing."
After the report, Sanchez interviewed Mark Potok of the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center, who added that "really, racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda....have made their way out into the larger anti-immigration movement -- the Minutemen groups and so on. And before you know it, they are on talk radio, they are on some cable news talk shows." Strangely, the CNN anchor then went on a bit of a tangent by bringing how Newsweek recently reported that "the Secret Service has now confirmed that threats against Barack Obama spiked when Sarah Palin began impugning his patriotism."