It was huge news. A map targeting those with opposing viewpoints led to a tragic attack. Partisan rhetoric was out of control and fringe-types were being driven to gun commit gun crimes. Except that, in the case of the Gabby Giffords shooting two years ago, none of those things were even remotely true. But that didn’t stop the media from breathlessly conjecturing that a target-festooned map on Sarah Palin’s website had pointed Jared Loughner to Rep. Giffords, and that Palin’s “reload” rhetoric made him shoot.
But now we have a case in which a politically motivated shooter has confessed to choosing his targets according to a map. In fact, it was a “hate map” created by the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). But ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN aren’t talking.
On Feb. 6., Floyd Lee Corkins II pleaded guilty to charges, including "committing an act of terrorism with the intent to kill," for a shooting last summer at the conservative Family Research Council headquarters in Washington’ D.C., that wounded one unarmed security guard. Corkins confessed he targeted FRC after discovering the organizationvia the SPLC’s “Hate Map.”
The map lists, “All hate groups [that] have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” The SPLC, “a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry … ,” labeled the FRC as “Anti-Gay.” The SPLC asserted that, “FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science.”
In reporting the plea, the broadcast networks failed to mention the map’s role in the shooting. But then, the media remained silent even when the actual shooting occurred last year, except for one mention during ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer on August 16, 2012.
Nor did CNN report Corkins’ use of the SPLC map – except for one mention on CNN.com. “Corkins -- who had chosen the research council as his target after finding it listed as an anti-gay group on the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center -- had planned to stride into the building and open fire on the people inside in an effort to kill as many as possible…" the website noted
While CNN also noted that the SPLC documented the FRC as a hate group since 2010, CNN failed to mention its own support of the SPLC label. Shortly after the shooting last summer, Early Start’s Zoraida Sambolin said the FRC was " spewing hate" and went so far as to say, “… we kind of understand why they were labeled a hate group.” CNN’s Randi Kaye also used the SPLC as a reliable source for "hate groups" during a report at the time of the shooting.
FRC President Tony Perkins warned of the SPLC’s in the shooting during a press conference last summer, saying, “…Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations ‘hate groups’ because they disagree with them on public policy.” Perkins called for recognition of the SPLC’s tactics saying they, “…should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology that is leading to the intimidation, and what the FBI here has categorized, as an act of domestic terrorism.”
Unfortunately, while the law might prosecute Corkins, the media’s lips are sealed.