Intelligence and Poverty (-stricken lawyers)
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Deconstructing SPLC "Intelligence" Reports
I see from a Facebook post that the poverty-stricken lawyers in their multi-story Airstream in the Cradle of the Confederacy have the Museum of the Confederacy in their, um, figurative gun sights.
I haven’t read but a paragraph or two of the hit piece (which goes on and on and on for pages and pages and pages — this article below explains why I don’t read their crap) and I’m not putting a link to it. If you wanna read it, find it yourself.
In September 2005, I did some research on the SPLC’s website for a post in a discussion group. I found two very interesting passages.
The first is about the publication, the Intelligence Report, and it sed, "Each year, Intelligence Project staff sift through hate groups’ publications, citizens’ reports, news reports and information from law enforcement agencies and field sources to develop the most up-to-date data on American hate groups. That data is then passed on to law enforcement, journalists, academics and the general public."
Something similar was found in a paragraph about the list of "hate groups" the SPLC tracks: "This list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports."
I found these sources of information very interesting. (It’s also interesting that the last time I looked, these passages had been removed or almost unrecognizably altered. cw, July 2010)
One of the sources is identified as "law enforcement reports." Out of curiosity, since SPLC’s hate group map plasters West Florida with hate group symbols, I decided to find out what kind of reports local law enforcement agencies give to the SPLC about these groups. I talked to three people at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department –one of them Sheriff McNesby himself, with whom I am nominally acquainted.
Well, they don’t give reports to the SPLC, so the "watchdogs" at the poverty palace in Montgomery have to get whatever "law enforcement reports" they want from West Florida from somewhere else. More than likely, the only law enforcement agencies that provide information to the SPLC are federal agencies — the FBI, the BATF, etc. — the jackbooted thugs of NRA fame.
Then, there is the source "hate groups’ publications." I freely admit I don’t study hate group literature, so I don’t know how accurately the SPLC reports what they find there. However, I do know that they frequently misreport and misconstrue material from proSouthern publications — and from those of the Christian right, whom they passionately hate.
Next we have "news reports". I have read only a fraction of the articles in the Intelligence Report — mostly only those about proSouthernism — but I find the citing of a news source (or any other source, frankly) to be as rare as hens’ teeth. In fact, now that I think about it, I don’t remember a single one.
That leaves "citizens’ reports" and "field sources." That’s mostly where the "intelligence reports" come from. They are anonymous accounts and as such, wholly unreliable. We aren’t told who is supplying the information, how reliable they are, whether they have an agenda, and if so, what it is. We don’t know the circumstances under which they gather the information. Did they interview people? Did they identify themselves right up front? If not, how was the information gathered?
These "citizens’ and field source reports" are written in the language of persuasion and propaganda, not the language of factual and dispassionate reporting. They are not vetted by an impartial editor for fairness and objectivity. They are manufactured, beginning to end, by people with an agenda, for the purpose of pushing that agenda. They are written and edited by people whose (very substantial) incomes depend on convincing contributors that there’s a huge and growing, dangerous, violent "hate" menace stalking the country.
I believe these reports from citizens and field sources to be considerably embellished, and in part actually fabricated.
Here’s an interesting "report" about a meeting of the Constitution Party several years ago, representatiave of what I’m talking about.
None of it came from "news reports" — at least, not legitimate ones — or, if it did, Moser didn’t properly cite them. No ABC-NBC-CBS-Fox News stories cited, nothing from the Oregonian in Portland, no radio or magazine reports cited…
(The article does cite "Ballot Access News publisher Richard Winger," but only for generic information about the average percentage of the third-party vote, not information about the Constitution Party meeting being reported on. All the "analysis" of third-party history isn’t intelligence reporting — anybody can look that info up on the web.)
Also, there are no facts identified as being supplied by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department, the Portland Police Bureau or the Oregon State Police or any other law enforcement agency, either (so much for "law enforcement" sources…)
That leaves totally anonymous, totally unverifiable — in other words, wholly specious — "citizens’ reports" and "field sources."
Of course, the citizens and field sources themselves are not identified….
The SPLC claims that the Intelligence Report is journalism, but there’s not a particle of journalistic objectivity to it. Its paragraphs are littered with manipulative language. For example, from the Constitution Party article:
"CLACKAMAS, Ore. — They’ve journeyed west from as far as Pennsylvania and Maryland, this band of true believers, 100 strong. Some of them decked out in their Sunday finest, others casual in plaid work shirts and jeans, they have huddled together on a rainy April Saturday in a low-lit hotel conference room in this blue-collar Portland suburb that gave the world Tanya Harding, figure skater gone bad."
What tripe! A truly journalistic account would sound more like….
"CLACKAMAS, Ore. — About 100 people from as far away as Pennsylvania and Maryland have arrived in Clackamas for the 2003 convention of the Constitution Party."
"decked out in their Sunday finest" "band of true believers" "huddled together" "blue-collar Portland suburb" "Tonya Harding, figure skater gone bad" are all word-picture irrelevancies designed to manipulate and bias the reader.
This kind of manipulative language liberally sprinkles the whole article.
And the passages about the meeting in Oregon were clearly written by someone who was there … but the source isn’t named. What a surprise….
If you are so anxious to believe crap like this, go right ahead. And if you want to give your money to a bunch of avaricious "fundraisers," who am I to try to dissuade you? It’s your money. Send ’em lots. They need it. The POVERTY law center has only got $120 million, and I just know they’ve sacrificed and sent some of it for Katrina relief… Although, I haven’t been able to find confirmation of it in the media, yet…. But they’re so generous and caring, surely they’ve sent a big donation….