Lank­ford chides SPLC ‘hate’ des­ig­na­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - — Va­lerie Richard­son

Sen. James Lank­ford, Ok­la­homa Repub­li­can,

on Mon­day con­fronted ABC News for la­bel­ing the con­ser­va­tive Al­liance De­fend­ing Free­dom as an al­leged “hate group,” say­ing that dis­agree­ing on the is­sues “isn’t the same as hate.”

The network stoked out­rage on the right with its July 12 on­line ar­ti­cle head­lined, “Jeff Ses­sions ad­dresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t re­lease his re­marks,” which re­ferred to the des­ig­na­tion used by the lib­eral South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter on its “hate map.”

“In this coun­try, we have the free­dom to dis­agree. How­ever, dis­agree­ment is not the same as dis­crim­i­na­tion, and it’s not the same as hate,” Mr. Lank­ford said in the Mon­day let­ter to ABC News Pres­i­dent James Gold­ston.

“La­bel­ing ADF a ‘hate group’ feeds into a nar­ra­tive that news me­dia fre­quently ed­i­to­ri­al­izes beyond the facts. This ul­ti­mately harms Amer­i­can trust in the press,” Mr. Lank­ford said.

The ADF has asked for a re­trac­tion and an apol­ogy from ABC, ac­cus­ing the network of “jour­nal­is­tic mal­prac­tice.” The network has not re­sponded to a re­quest for com­ment.

SPLC Pres­i­dent Richard Cohen de­fended the “hate group” des­ig­na­tion, say­ing in a state­ment that the Ari­zona-based le­gal foun­da­tion “spreads de­mo­niz­ing lies about the LGBT com­mu­nity in this coun­try and seeks to crim­i­nal­ize it abroad.”

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