While the White House Trolls the Press, the SPLC Pulls a Stunt of Its Own

By Jerry Kammer on March 27, 2017
Introductory Note: Last Monday, this blog drew on a "Fresh Air" podcast to report on the New Yorker playing a supportive role as the Southern Poverty Law Center revives the sinister tradition of the Hollywood black list. Now another podcast leads us to another example of the ideological axis between the hate-mongering mob from Montgomery, Ala,. and the normally respectable New Yorker, the editorial voice of the Manhattan liberal consensus.

For the second time in a month, a writer for the New Yorker has demonstrated the astonishing ability of the "hate group" vigilantes of the SPLC to snooker the cosmopolitan cognoscenti up there in the Big Apple.

Last month it was Jonathan Blitzer who stained the pages of the prestigious weekly with his recitation of the declaration by those junior-league-Jacobins that the Center for Immigration Studies is a hate group. This time the New Yorker's purveyor of the SPLC's nasty nuttiness is Andrew Marantz.

Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok, the tolerance-or-else duo down there in the SPLC's "poverty palace" headquarters in Montgomery, Ala., must be yukking it up about their ability to get into the heads of Ivy Leaguers.

What makes this even stranger is that both Blitzer and Marantz seem to be generally quick of wit and sound of mind. Youtube provides a good example with the smart, even charming, speech Marantz delivered at Brown in 2006.

Marantz's offense, to be sure, is less flagrant than Blitzer's. In his appearance on the "On Point" radio program on NPR, Marantz did not mention either CIS or the SPLC by name. But anyone who knows anything about the discussion of immigration at recent press briefings in the Trump White House could figure out what Marantz was talking about.

Marantz appeared on the program to discuss his article in the March 20 New Yorker, which was titled "Is Trump Trolling the White House Press Corps?". He argued that the White House decision to issue press credentials to so many right-wing, minor-league news hounds is an effort to stretch "the range of acceptable discourse" on a variety of pressing issues.

Marantz illustrated his concern with an example about the discourse on immigration. He refered to LifeZette, a news and opinion website that was founded by Laura Ingraham and that frequently cites the work of CIS.

"There are statistics being cited in the briefing room that, you know, someone from LifeZette says, 'These are statistics from a think tank,' whereas, you know, someone out of a more mainstream background would say. 'No, no, that's just a statistic from a hate group.' And so those very basic definitional things are changing sort of the tenor and the subject of where the parameters of the debate are."

Now it's possible that I will be mistaken in asserting these next two points. But I doubt that very much. And if I am wrong, I will apologize to Andrew Marantz right after he apologizes to whatever other hate-group-posing-as-immigration-think-tank he has in mind.

Point One: The Center for Immigration Studies is the only immigration think tank whose work has been a recent topic of conversation at White House press gatherings. We get a helluva lot more mainstream attention than the SPLC, whose mind-numbing moral matrix has even alienated many liberals who prefer to wrestle with the moral and intellectual ambiguities of immigration policy.

Point Two: The only reputable organization that — even to this day — has approvingly passed on the SPLC's latest smear of CIS is Marantz's very own New Yorker, which published Blitzer's rendition on February 17.

As I listened to Marantz's discussion of his visit to the White House, I found his central thesis to be as thoughtful and provocative as his embrace of the SPLC is empty and shallow. He believes the rejiggering of the press corps is a cunning attempt both to marginalize the mainstream press and to provoke it into responses that the Trump judo masters can use against the press, to the delight of Trump's base.

Andrew, I thought, perhaps the White House is indeed trolling the press. But consider this: Beirich and Potok are accomplishing something even more sinister. They have conned you and others who are dedicated to the noble cause of social justice. They have lured you into that poverty palace of the soul where efforts to limit immigration are disdained as social injustice propelled by hate. You have aided and abetted their effort to blow up a debate that needs to be vigorous and civil.

The SPLC Ministry of Love uses hate-group smears the way Sea World uses dead fish to get seals to clap their flippers and bark. The White House may indeed be trolling the press. But the SPLC is out to train the press. How sad that they're succeeding at the New Yorker.