Media Matters, the liberal watchdog group, sent a video camera to yesterday's CIS press conference, where we introduced our new report: "Immigration and the SPLC: How the Southern Poverty Law Center Invented a Smear, Served La Raza, Manipulated the Press, and Duped its Donors."
Today the Media Matters website has a brief clip from the event. It shows me saying that the SPLC abandoned its early work in such areas as death-penalty cases and voting rights cases because founder Morris Dees "learned that he can take in more money by exaggerating the size and menace of the Klan." It also shows me saying that the Dees is playing a cynical game that I labeled "Jihad for dollars."
I assume it was that label's lack of originality that motivated Media Matters to post the clip. It definitely demonstrates that even though I was sitting, I'm no threat to anybody currently employed in the stand-up comedy business. For obvious reasons, MM has no interest in posting anything I said about our reporting on the SPLC's kangaroo court, smear campaign, and character assassination in the service of the National Council of La Raza.
The first comment on the Media Matters website illustrates the naivete that Dees has exploited to raise tens of millions of dollars with direct-mail solicitations so successful that he now has a place in the Direct Marketing Association's Hall of Fame.
The commenter asked incredulously, "Can you exaggerate the menace of the Klan?."
Note to commenter: Here's what Dees has always told his fundraising crews: "Yes we can!"
In 1994, the Montgomery Advertiser -- the SPLC's hometown newspaper -- published a nine-day expose of Dees' empire of hypocrisy, cynicism and greed. It said in an editorial that the Klan had become "a farce." It also agreed with the criticism that the SPLC "focuses on the anti-Klan theme not because the Klan is a major threat, but because it plays well with liberal donors."
Well, I'm a liberal myself, and I'm proud of the fact that the best investigative work exposing the hypocrisy and self-aggrandizement of Morris Dees has been done by liberal reporters for such publications as Harper's, The Nation, and The Progressive. The only strong bias good reporters have is a bias for good stories.
Ken Silverstein of Harper's, (who at our panel called Dees "a phony" in need of more journalistic exposes) has been writing about him for nearly a decade. In 2001, Silverstein wrote this: "Today, the SPLC spends most of its time -- and money -- on a relentless fund-raising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit rider passing the collection plate." Silverstein's piece quoted a former Dees associate who called him "the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement."
Here's an excerpt is from a 2001 piece in The Nation that called the SPLC "puffed up crusaders" with an eye for a pulling a fast buck from the pockets of gullible liberals:
Hate sells; poor people don't, which is why readers who go to the SPLC's website will find only a handful of cases on such non-lucrative causes as fair housing, worker safety, or healthcare, many of those from the 1970s and 1980s. Why the organization continues to keep "Poverty" (or even "Law") in its name can be ascribed only to nostalgia or a cynical understanding of the marketing possibilities in class guilt.
In 2009, liberal journalist Alexander Cockburn called Dees the "arch-salesman of hate-mongering." Under a headline that labeled Dees the "King of the Hate Business," he said Dees thrived by "selling the notion there's a right resurgence out there in the hinterland with massed legions of haters, ready to march down Main Street draped in Klan robes, a copy of 'Mein Kampf' tucked under one arm and a Bible under the other .... Ever since 1971, U.S. Postal Service mailbags have bulged with his fundraising letters, scaring dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America."