Conservative media figures that embody messages of misogyny and hate will take center stage at a GOP candidate forum in Iowa, despite the party's own acknowledgment that future electoral victories hinge upon the development of a more tolerant platform.
After Mitt Romney's loss in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee drafted a series of recommendations on how to evolve and grow the party into a force that can win consistently in the 21st century. To a large extent, the plan recommended reaching out to women and minorities, after Democrats won both groups by healthy margins that year. The RNC report recommended "developing a forward-leaning vision for voting Republican that appeals to women." It went on to suggest that the party needs "to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too."
But in a move that seems in total opposition to those recommendations, the Iowa Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, as well as Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), have chosen to partner with Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, radio host Steve Deace, and The Family Leader, an anti-gay organization headed by Bob Vander Plaats, to conduct a forum for the candidates on April 25.
Despite his role as "moderator" for the event, Erickson's far-right views on women and minorities are anything but moderate. Erickson has argued that businesses that serve gay couples are "aiding and abetting" sin, that proposed anti-discrimination laws are part of a war on Christians waged by "evil" gay rights activists, and that marriage equality is akin to incest. According to the pundit, gay people are definitely "on the road to hell."
Breitbart Texas launched a transphobic attack on a Texas substitute teacher who was suspended because of her gender identity, depicting the teacher as mentally disturbed and suggesting that she became transgender because she was distraught over her divorce.
On April 8, Lumberton Independent School District suspended Laura Jane Klug, who had worked as a fifth grade substitute teacher, after parents complained to school officials about Klug's gender identity. Breitbart Texas picked up the story on April 9, using scare quotes to mock Klug's gender identity and touting a local conservative writer's claim that Klug is "an emotionally disturbed and confused older man":
A fifth grade substitute teacher was suspended this week by the Lumberton Independent School District (LISD) after it was discovered the teacher is a "transgender" male [sic]. The teacher who was recently hired by the school district now must wait until Friday to find out if "she" will be terminated from employment.
The issue of Laura Jane Klug's "gender identity" came up after parents became aware of students talking about it in school. Mr. Klug was asked by school officials not to return to "her" classroom until the school board could be convened to consider the matter according to KFDM TV.
David Bellow raises other concerns about Klug's mental state in an article posted today on TexasGOPVote.com.
"I looked [Klug] up on Facebook," Bellows wrote, "and what I found was an emotionally disturbed and confused older man. He has not always wanted to be a woman. According to a note he posted on his Facebook page on July 7th, 2011 titled "How Much More Can I Take?" Kurt Klug was emotionally distraught and seemingly ready to give in with his life because of the pain of his female wife leaving him. The pain and distraught of his wife leaving him must have driven him to decide that he wanted to become a woman. From 2011 until now, Kurt changed his name to Laura Jane Klug and started dressing up like a woman and acting like a woman."
Bellow and Breitbart's smears against Klug rely on the discredited trope that transgender people are inherently disturbed and disordered. Medical experts reject this notion. Being transgender, in the words of one expert, is "part of the human condition," and gender identity is an ingrained, intrinsic part of a person's identity. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, gender identity is usually established by the age of four. In 2012, the American Psychiatric Association revised the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to drop the diagnosis of "gender identity disorder," replacing it with gender dysphoria, the possible emotional distress that can come from "a marked incongruence" between one's assigned sex at birth and one's gender identity.
But Breitbart has little use for such facts. The website -- which employs the rabid anti-LGBT extremist Austin Ruse --has previously mocked transgender people by running a trans-related article with a photo of a cross-dressing South Park character, betraying an embarrassing ignorance about what it even means to be transgender.
Launched along with Breitbart London in February, followed by Breitbart California on April 6, Breitbart Texas' transphobic attack on Klug comes days after Breitbart California came under fierce criticism for a sexist image of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) face transposed onto a scantily clad woman's body.
Speaking before the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition on April 8, Fox News host Mike Huckabee emphatically declared that's he's "not a hater" and "not homophobic." It's an assertion that flies in the face of Huckabee's decades-long anti-gay record.
Talking Points Memo reported on April 9 that Huckabee used his keynote address to deny that his opposition to marriage equality is rooted in homophobia, explaining that he's simply "on the right side of the Bible."
That claim contradicts Huckabee's previous justifications for his anti-equality stance. Speaking to The New Yorker in 2011, he cited "the ick factor" as one of the reasons he didn't think same-sex couples should be allowed to get married.
Huckabee has staked out extreme anti-gay positions on other topics, as well. As an unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate in 1992, he called for AIDS patients to be quarantined. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Huckabee refused to "recant or retract" that position.
On his radio program, Huckabee has fear-mongered about non-discrimination laws by baselessly asserting that they'll open the door to sexual assault in restrooms and locker rooms and thanked a caller who suggested it's "not okay to be gay."
Moreover, Huckabee has repeatedly shown a willingness to associate with extreme anti-gay organizations. On his Fox News show Huckabee, he hosted anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC), which depicts gay men as sexual predators who want to recruit children to their "lifestyle" and "destroy ... our nation." But Huckabee effusively praised the FRC, calling it "one of the most respected family organizations in America."
Huckabee also spearheaded Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day in 2012, after Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's anti-gay views and donations to groups like the FRC generated protests from LGBT equality supporters.
Additionally, Huckabee gave the keynote address at the inaugural convention of Trail Life USA, an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America that bans participation by openly gay youth and was founded by an anti-gay activist who promotes discredited "ex-gay" therapy programs.
In his Iowa speech, Huckabee professed no interest in "what people do personally in their individual lives." But his career has been marked by attempts to marginalize and promote discrimination against LGBT people.
Craig James, the former Fox Sports football analyst who lost his job over homophobic comments he made as a U.S. Senate candidate, is headed to the Family Research Council (FRC), a notorious anti-gay hate group that frequently peddles anti-gay misinformation on Fox News.
In September, Fox Sports fired James after just one appearance as an analyst on the network, citing anti-gay remarks he made during his unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate from Texas in 2012. James called homosexuality "a choice" and stated that gay people "are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions." Explaining the network's decision to part ways with James, a Fox Sports spokesman told The Dallas Morning News, "We just asked ourselves how Craig's statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn't say those things here."
James' firing made him a right-wing cause célèbre, with groups like the FRC condemning the network's move, depicting it as anti-Christian bigotry. Now, seven months after James' firing triggered a conservative outcry, the FRC is bringing him on board as an assistant to FRC President Tony Perkins, according to an April 8 press release:
Craig James, a Fox Sports football analyst who was fired after the network learned that he had expressed his views in support of natural marriage during his race for the U.S. Senate 18 months earlier, has joined Family Research Council (FRC) as an Assistant to the President. In this role, Craig will cultivate relationships with like-minded Americans across the country who share a common concern for the growing hostility toward free speech and religious liberty in the U.S. He will continue to share his own story of religious discrimination and educate Americans to the expanding threats to our First Freedom.
"We are very excited and pleased to announce that Craig James is joining Family Research Council's team," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. "Losing one job because of his religious beliefs has made room for another: raising awareness about the threats to our most precious liberty - the freedom of religion. His leadership skills, his courage in the face of religious hostility, and his passion for faith, family and freedom will make him a great addition to the FRC team.
The FRC's anti-gay extremism has earned it a hate group designation from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). As the SPLC notes, the FRC has peddled the myths that gay people are disproportionately likely to be pedophiles, that a gay-inclusive military will endanger national security, that gay people aim to recruit children to their "lifestyle," and that the gay "agenda" "will destroy them and our nation," as Perkins declared in 2011.
In a bizarre turn of events, the kind of anti-gay extremism that got James fired from Fox Sports may end up getting him welcomed at Fox Sports' corporate sibling, Fox News. The network routinely hosts the FRC to comment on LGBT issues. FRC's Perkins just appeared on the April 7 edition of The Kelly File to blast non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.
Even as James begins his new job at the FRC, he continues to battle Fox Sports in court. In February, he filed a legal complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission alleging that he was the victim of anti-religious discrimination. It's unclear if his complaint against Fox Sports will affect FRC's relationship with Fox News, but his penchant for anti-gay rhetoric makes him a great fit at the notorious anti-gay hate group.
Less than two months after national media outlets spotlighted the debate over Arizona's proposed license-to-discriminate measure, CNN and Fox News completely ignored the passage of a similar measure in Mississippi that effectively sanctions the refusal of services to LGBT people.
On April 3, two days after the state legislature sent the bill to his desk, Gov. Phil Bryant (R-MS) signed the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act in a private ceremony attended by anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC). The law prohibits state actions that "substantially burden a person's right to the exercise of religion." According to legal experts, the law could allow, say, a health care worker to refuse fertility treatment to same-sex couples on the grounds that providing such care constituted a substantial burden on the worker's religion.
Like the Arizona measure, which Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed, the Mississippi law doesn't explicitly mention gay people. And unlike in Arizona, Mississippi lawmakers stripped language pertaining to businesses, conferring protections only on individuals.
But that was good enough for the FRC's Perkins, who lavishly praised the bill as a defense of religious liberty against things like same-sex marriage.
During the debate over Arizona's SB 1062, cable news networks extensively covered the controversy surrounding the measure. CNN ran multiple segments highlighting the anti-gay group behind the measure and grilled supporters of the bill about its impact on gay and lesbian customers. Even Fox News noted that the law might be an example of right-wing overreach, calling it "profoundly unconstitutional" and "potentially dangerous."
But that concern hasn't carried over into coverage of Mississippi's anti-gay law. According to an Equality Matters analysis, CNN and Fox News have both entirely ignored the passage of Mississippi's Religious Freedom Restoration Act:
Fox News criticized the Supreme Court's decision not to hear a case involving a New Mexico photographer who was sued after refusing to serve a same-sex couple, inviting a hate group leader to condemn non-discrimination laws and asserting that prohibiting businesses from refusing service to gay people is a form of "involuntary servitude."
On April 7, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Elane Photography, a New Mexico studio that was sued under the state's non-discrimination statute after its owner refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. Though it's unclear what motivated the Supreme Court's decision, opponents of LGBT equality condemned the Supreme Court for allegedly refusing to protect religious liberty.
One of the Supreme Court's critics was Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council (FRC), who appeared on The Kelly File with Megyn Kelly to condemn New Mexico's non-discrimination law:
From the April 7 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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To hear conservative media tell it, the resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich following an outcry over Eich's support for the 2008 referendum that banned same-sex marriage in California is merely the latest sign that a new era of anti-conservative persecution has arrived. That narrative undergirds the right's campaign against LGBT equality and is essential to understanding conservative support for measures that would enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law.
On April 3, just two weeks into his tenure, Eich announced his decision to step down as Mozilla's CEO. The revelation that Eich had contributed $1,000 to the anti-marriage equality Proposition 8 campaign had triggered fierce criticism from Mozilla employees, companies like OkCupid, and gay rights activists. As Slate's Mark Joseph Stern noted, the campaign for Proposition 8 was about far more than a simple disagreement over the definition of marriage. Supporters ran stridently homophobic ads accusing gay people of wanting to turn children gay, "mess up" children by introducing gay marriage into the curriculum, and conceal the truth about marriage and reproduction.
The virulently anti-gay propaganda behind the Prop 8 campaign - and the measure's subsequent passage -served to compound the sense of vulnerability among the gay community, which faces discrimination in housing, healthcare, public accommodations, and earnings, and is disproportionately targeted by hate crimes. Given the vitriol that motivated the Prop 8 fight, many supporters of LGBT equality objected to Eich's appointment to Mozilla CEO.
In the right-wing universe, however, it's conservative Christians whose rights are under assault. While Eich's decision to resign was an example of the free market at work - precisely the solution many libertarians and conservatives have long prescribed for anti-gay bigotry - conservative media figures greeted his departure with cries of totalitarianism and bigotry, condemning the "intolerant" LGBT movement for its role in the controversy.
Rush Limbaugh wasted no time in comparing Eich's critics with Nazis, declaring on his April 4 program that "'[f]ascist' is probably the closest way" to describe them (emphasis added):
When it was discovered that Brendan Eich had donated a $100 [sic] to Proposition 8 four years ago, the literal... What is the proper name for people who engage in this kind of behavior? "Fascist" is probably the closest way. You can call 'em Nazis, but nevertheless they went into gear, and immediately Brendan Eich was described as "filled with hatred" and anti-gay bigotry all over the tech media.
Breitbart.com's Ben Shapiro sounded a similar note, launching an anti-Mozilla campaign on his website TruthRevolt.org to protest the company's "fascistic crackdown":
In his latest paean to Vladimir Putin, Pat Buchanan lauded the Russian president for "planting Russia's flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity" with his policies against reproductive choice and LGBT rights - evidence, Buchanan suggested, that God is on Putin's side in his showdown with the West.
In his April 4 syndicated column, Buchanan heralded Putin as the global leader of a backlash against "a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West":
In the new war of beliefs, Putin is saying, it is Russia that is on God's side. The West is Gomorrah.
He is also tapping into the worldwide revulsion of and resistance to the sewage of a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West.
The West's capitulation to a sexual revolution of easy divorce, rampant promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, feminism, abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, assisted suicide -- the displacement of Christian values by Hollywood values.
But the war to be waged with the West is not with rockets. It is a cultural, social, moral war where Russia's role, in Putin's words, is to "prevent movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state."
In 2013, the Kremlin imposed a ban on homosexual propaganda, a ban on abortion advertising, a ban on abortions after 12 weeks and a ban on sacrilegious insults to religious believers.
In the new ideological Cold War, whose side is God on now?
Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller launched a baseless attack on a Maryland bill that protects transgender people from discrimination, repeating the debunked myth that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination protections and sneak into women's restrooms.
On March 27, the Maryland House of Delegates approved the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, which prohibits discrimination against transgender people in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-MD plans to sign the bill into law, but opponents seized on the bill's public accommodations protections to claim that the so-called "bathroom bill" would lead to a spike in sexual assaults.
In an April 2 column for the Times, Miller echoed that attack, denouncing the bill as "dangerous" and warning that it "endangers every single female":
The most dangerous impact of this new law is that a man cannot be stopped from going into a women's bathroom, locker room or pool changing room.
The state does not specify that a person must have undergone a sex-change operation to have their legal rights of "gender identity" protected.
A man doesn't even have to dress like a woman.
To be considered transgender, you just have to give a "consistent and uniform assertion" of believing you are supposed to be the opposite sex. Or, a person has to provide evidence that the non-biological sex is "sincerely held as part of the person's core identity."
No one knows exactly how many people believe they were born the wrong sex and want to act out on it. A Los Angeles County Department of Public Health report in 2012 estimates that 0.2 percent of the population is transgender.
Even if we accept this very high count, that means 12,000 of the 6 million Marylanders will benefit by this law that endangers every single female.
Fox News reporter and serial misinformer Todd Starnes failed to disclose that the source for his latest bogus religious liberty horror story is the vice president of sales at the publishing house promoting Starnes' latest book - a book that, conveniently enough, warns of growing "intolerance" against American Christians.
On March 29, Starnes reported that five-year-old Gabriella Perez had been rebuked by a teacher for trying to pray in her Oviedo, FL school lunchroom. The girl recounted the alleged episode in a YouTube video posted by her father, Marcos Perez. Starnes' report featured an original interview with Perez, who told Starnes that he had long had concerns about "issues and agendas we see in the culture war."
But on April 1, the Orlando Sentinel raised doubts about the credibility of Perez's story. According to the Sentinel's report, none of the staff who could have been at the cafeteria at the time of the incident recall witnessing the student being spoken to about prayer. The staff member who allegedly spoke to Gabriella Perez hasn't been identified, and the school has reiterated that it has no policy prohibiting students from praying.
The Sentinel also revealed that Marcos Perez is the vice president of sales at Charisma House, the publisher of Starnes' soon-to-be-published collection of religious liberty horror stories, God Less America: Real Stories from the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values (emphasis added):
School officials have not interviewed Gabriella, who was pulled from the school by her parents the day after the video was posted. The Perezes said they accelerated existing plans to home school her. Her father is vice president of sales at Charisma House, a Lake Mary-based Christian book publisher. The company is currently promoting the book "God Less America: Real Stories from the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values," by Fox News host Todd Starnes. Starnes reported on the lunch prayer controversy for Fox News Radio. Marcos Perez said he did the interview with Starnes because "I'm passionate about the cause." He seemed distressed by any notion of ulterior motives. Using his family to promote a book "would be egregious," he said. "I'm a father first, a VP of sales second."
As Right Wing Watch noted, Perez was recently featured in a press release promoting Starnes' book.
Starnes' report on the alleged incident now includes an editor's note disclosing Perez's employment at the top of the article:
As the online news and commentary landscape continues to expand, the nascent conservative web magazine The Federalist has quickly carved out a role as a brash, anti-establishment site. It has also become an outlet for often-rabid anti-LGBT talking points.
Launched in September 2013 as a "web magazine on politics, policy, and culture," The Federalist is helmed by publisher Ben Domenech, a co-founder of the right-wing blog RedState.com and senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank known for its opposition to climate science and funding from industry sources like the Koch brothers. Co-founder Sean Davis came to conservative journalism after a career in GOP politics, having worked for Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). Senior editors David Harsanyi and Mollie Hemingway and senior writer Robert Tracinski round out The Federalist's leadership.
In its short existence, The Federalist has won plaudits from conservative organizations and activists, not least those best known for their anti-LGBT advocacy. A look at the website's track record on LGBT issues leaves little doubt as to why The Federalist counts some of the most notorious anti-LGBT groups among its most ardent fans.
Touted by Domenech as a publication "that rejects the assumptions of the media establishment," The Federalist regularly frames its opposition to LGBT equality as brave defiance of elite conventions. This posture leads The Federalist to inveigh against even the most basic protections for LGBT people.
Take writer Rachel Lu's opposition to anti-bullying legislation. In a March 18 piece, Lu condemned such legislation as an attempt to "normalize homosexuality and transgendered behavior." (Being transgender isn't a "behavior.") Lu situated anti-bullying policies in a larger context in which progressives seek to enforce an "Orwellian vision" of LGBT equality.
Lamenting that LGBT acceptance has become "thoroughly conventional," Lu argued that young voters' support for marriage equality is the result of "unreflective ignorance" about "what marriage is." Lu defended an exclusively heterosexual conception of marriage by noting that the vast majority of "cultural and historical and literary references to marriage" concern heterosexual relationships. "Enjoying sexual difference," Lu concluded, "is critical to almost all of these romances, and while homosexuals do have Plato's Symposium and the poetry of Sappho, their stock of cultural associations is much, much thinner."
Other Federalist writers couch their opposition to marriage equality in decidedly less literary terms. Hemingway, who refers to straight marriage as "natural marriage," explained in a February piece that "the penis and vagina parts are actually key to this entire shebang. See: human history."
Contributor Hunter Baker echoed Hemingway's argument in a post arguing that opponents of marriage equality are just being "commonsensical." In what apparently passes for robust argument at The Federalist, Baker used the example of his children's confusion when they learned of the existence of same-sex relationships. They couldn't "understand why a man would want to share romantic love with another man" - definitive evidence to Baker that homosexuality is unnatural. He then compared his children's aversion to homosexuality to what he called children's reflexive "tilts away" from racism. (In reality, studies of how young children respond to dolls show that they respond more favorably to white dolls than to black ones.)
And then there's Jesus, whom writer Andrew Walker assured readers would not support marriage equality. But fear not, Walker counseled pro-equality Christians, "no sin is wider than Christ's mercy if one will only repent and believe."
The Washington Times praised the evangelical organization World Vision for reversing its decision to employ Christians in legal same-sex marriages, seizing on the charity's U-turn to denounce "the lavender lobby" for its fight against anti-LGBT discrimination.
On March 24, World Vision - best known for its global sponsor-a-child programs - announced that it would permit gay Christians in legal marriages to work for the charity. After an uproar from Christian conservatives, the charity reversed course two days later, with World Vision president Richard Stearns and board chairman Jim Bere asking for "forgiveness."
In an editorial published on April 1, the Times applauded World Vision's decision to reinstate anti-gay discrimination, contrasting World Vision's decision with other organizations that have succumbed to "the lavender lobby":
World Vision's short-lived reconsideration of belief was not made under pressure. Even the most optimistic homosexual-rights advocate would never expect an organization faithful to the Gospel to ignore the clearly stated words of St. Paul, condemning marital combinations other than husband and wife, e.g., a man and a woman.
The restoration of the status quo ante underscores the biblical admonition that a Christian can be in the world without being of the world, and conforming to it. World Vision's administrators forgot for a moment -- well, for two days -- that they cannot serve both God and mammon.
The pressure to cave to the lavender lobby is increasing, and some organizations have been quick to cave. The brewers of Guinness, Heineken and Samuel Adams beers withdrew their sponsorship of St. Patrick's Day parades in New York City and Boston because organizers wouldn't invite flamboyant activists to flaunt their cause in the march. The Boy Scouts of America rewrote their pledge of morality to allow actively homosexual Scouts to join.
World Vision's example shows that it's never too late to see errors and correct them. World Vision's donors made it clear that turning a blind eye to the charity's religious roots was not acceptable, and that they could no longer contribute to the sponsor-a-child programs.
The Times concluded that thanks to World Vision's flip-flop, "needy children" wouldn't be "collateral damage in the culture wars," ignoring the fact that it was conservative anti-gay groups that chose to politicize World Vision's short-lived decision not to discriminate against gay workers.
The Times has long been engaged in a crusade for anti-LGBT discrimination, displaying little regard for the "collateral damage" such discrimination creates. The Times championed an Arizona bill that would have allowed business owners to refuse to serve gay customers, echoing its earlier attacks on "militant homosexual activists" who insisted on equal treatment from business owners.
Image via Flickr.com user Kellie Parker
The Washington Times repeated the myth that the FBI has ended its relationship with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), ignoring that the FBI had already debunked that claim and distorting SPLC's work against domestic hate groups.
In a March 28 editorial, the Times savagely attacked SPLC founder Morris Dees - asserting that he founded the nonprofit in part "to get rich" - baselessly charging that SPLC defines "hate crimes" as "Christian opposition to same-sex marriage." The Times then applauded the FBI for cutting off ties with the group - something it didn't actually do:
The SPLC never identifies the hate groups about to engulf the land, who they are or where they are assembling their regiments of engulfers. With the Ku Klux Klan shrinking to insignificance, the SPLC, which is thought to be sitting on a treasury of a quarter of a billion dollars, has lately turned its lurid appeals to prosperous but frightened gays.
"Hate crimes" by SPLC definition now include Christian opposition to same-sex marriage.
This week it emerged that the FBI, which has included SPLC data as "a resource," has finally severed its link with the organization and dumped SPLC from the bureau's Hate Crime Web page.
The FBI offered no explanation of why now, but the dumping follows appeals of 15 family groups to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. and FBI Director James B. Comey to sever the connection. We think that was a good day's work.
In just a few sentences, the Times' editorial board peddles a number of blatant lies about the SPLC.
SPLC does identify hundreds of prominent hate groups across the U.S., which is why it's so despised by right-wing extremists to begin with.
SPLC doesn't considering opposing marriage equality to be a hate crime. The SPLC has identified extreme anti-gay organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC) and American Family Association (AFA) as hate groups because they peddle anti-LGBT smears and misinformation, not because they oppose marriage equality. Despite its strident anti-gay stances, for instance, even the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) isn't on the SPLC's list of hate groups.
Meanwhile, the Times' claim that the FBI chose to "sever [its] connection" with the SPLC is merely the latest sign that the paper's editorial board is impervious to facts, particularly when it comes to LGBT issues.
While right-wing media gleefully pounced on the FBI's decision to remove non-government organizations from a list of "resource" groups on a civil rights page, that decision applied to all non-government organizations, including groups like the Anti-Defamation League, equally. The bureau's website still lists the SPLC as a "public outreach" partner in the fight against hate crimes. Days before the Times published its editorial, the FBI contradicted the right-wing media narrative that by telling the Daily Caller that the bureau continues to receive support "from a variety of organizations," but had simply "elected not to identify those groups on the civil rights page."
Nowhere in its editorial did the Times even acknowledge that the FBI had corrected the record. The paper's pattern of rabid homophobia is disturbing enough, but its willingness to lie in the service of bigotry is even more appalling.
New reporting highlights the links between Newsweek's new owners, IBT Media, and an evangelical college that threatens to punish students if they're caught engaging in "homosexual activity."
After a one-year print hiatus, Newsweek is back on newsstands and under the new ownership of IBT Media. In-depth reports in The Guardian and Mother Jones document the extensive ties between IBT and David J. Jang, the leader of an evangelical Christian sect called "the Community" and founder of the Bay Area Olivet University.
Writing for Mother Jones, Ben Dooley revealed that IBT CEO Etienne Uzac and Chief Content Officer Johnathan Davis have cultivated deep ties with Olivet and the Community:
- Olivet and IBT are linked to a web of dozens of churches, nonprofits, and corporations around the world that Jang has founded, influenced, or controlled, with money from Community members and profitable ministries helping to cover the costs of money-losing ministries and Jang's expenses. Money from other Community-affiliated organizations also helped fund IBT's early growth.
- Olivet students in the United States on international student visas say they worked for IBT and other Community media entities, sometimes for as little as $125 a week. Both Olivet and IBT described these positions as internships, and said no-one was allowed to work illegally. Several students I spoke with say they were not told they were interns, and documents from Olivet and the businesses list students as reporters, editors, and salespeople.
- According to the Times, Uzac and Davis "said Jang had no financial stake in IBT or influence on the business." But the pair acknowledged to Mother Jones that Jang has provided "advice" to IBT. And while there's no evidence Jang controlled editorial matters, internal documents show him routinely weighing in on a wide range of business decisions, from personnel and business strategy to typography.
- Jang sees Community-affiliated media organizations, including IBT, as an essential part of his mission to build the kingdom of God on Earth. He has said that media companies affiliated with the Community are part of a new Noah's ark designed to save the world from a biblical flood of information.
There aren't any formal links between the Community and IBT, but in an email unearthed by Dooley, Davis wrote that his ties to Jang's network were "inherently covert."