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03/26/2014

In which 'Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard rumormongers a new anti-LGBT meme into being

by Jeremy Hooper

FACT: The FBI's hate crimes division removed two links that it had listed under its "resource" section, found on the front page of its site. Now this section only has four links, all of them either linking internally to the FBI or to another federal agency, the Dept. Of Justice.

FACT: One of links they removed was the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism; the other is the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tackles various forms of extremism.

FACT: There was no special distinction or reasoning given for the removal. If I had to guess, I'd say the removal was simply based on a decision to not link to outside orgs. on the front page of the website, preferring to instead keep everything within the realm of federal government, But I don't know the reason. So far, my attempts to contact the FBI have gone unreturned.

FACT: The FBI's hate crimes division still very much lists both orgs (plus NAACP, the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, the National Organization for Women, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Disability Rights Network) as partners in the fight against hate crimes. Both organizations are listed smack dab on the site's overview page, under "public outreach":

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 At 5.27.34 Pm
[FBI Hate Crimes—Overview]

FACT: There is absolutely no reason to assume anything untoward happened or see this as any sort of repudiation of any group. Again, these groups are still sited as partners

FACT: Because the Southern Poverty Law Center has been effective in noting and messaging out the obvious extremism that groups like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association promote, the anti-LGBT groups have been on a multi-year smear campaign in which they try to knock down the messenger for simply noting their own words.

Those are facts. Unfortunately, Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard chose to rumormonger a "report" implying that the SPLC was specifically targeted because of its work against anti-LGBT groups like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association. In a piece where he gives a platform to rabidly anti-gay FRC prez Tony Perkins, Bedard writes:

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has labeled several Washington, D.C.-based family organizations as "hate groups" for favoring traditional marriage, has been dumped as a "resource" on the FBI's Hate Crime Web page, a significant rejection of the influential legal group.
FULL: Anti-hate group blamed for inspiring Family Research Council gun attack dumped by FBI [Washington Examiner]

Bedard just kind of glosses over the ADL link removal, never mentions that SPLC and ADL are both still very much included on the site, and never entertains the most obvious possibility that the FBI was just adjusting how it links out (it was always kind of weird to just have these two groups on the front page rather than all the partners). It's clear that Bedard and/or his conservative media outlet has a point to make about SPLC, and so the always-gossipy (his moniker is "Washington Secrets;" before that he was "Washington Whispers") writer makes it.

In doing so, Bedard has now set a new far-right meme in motion. The American Family Association's "news" site ran its own "report," basically accepting as fact that the FBI is publicly repudiating SPLC. AFA's sole source is Paul Bedard's column and the removal of this one weblink:

According to the report, the webpage "scrubbing" came after 15 pro-family groups, including the American Family Association, complained to the FBI and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
FULL: FBI to SPLC: You're outta here! [AFA's ONN]

And then today, on his radio show, Tony Perkins hosted Congressman Louis Gohmert who also presented as fact the idea that the FBI is rebuking SPLC. Yup, you guessed it: both the Congressman and host Perkins had only Paul Bedard's rumors as basis for their claims. Apparently the simple removal of one weblink is enough for a sitting member of Congress to turn into a schoolboy gossiping by the lockers.

All of this because of one completely baseless (and I believe deliberate) report. Move over, Todd Starnes—it seems there's a new sh*t stirrer out there eager to carry water for certain groups behind the veneer of "mainstream" reporting.

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Oh, and here too:

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[FBI.Gov]

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