On 2-Yr Anniversary of FRC Shooting, WaPo Cites SPLC to Bash … FRC

Education writer rants about conservatives ‘spewing such garbage’ about Common Core.

How’s this for timing? The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss, on the two-year-anniversary of the FRC shooting, launched its own attack on FRC – with the help of a study released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the same group that inspired that shooter. 

Here’s a quick recap: on August 15, 2012, a gunman entered the lobby of the Family Research Council in Washington D.C, planning to kill everyone inside the building and then smear Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in their faces (at the time, Chick-Fil-A was under fire for comments that its CEO, Dan Cathy, had made in support of traditional marriage). The gunman’s plot was only foiled by the quick thinking of the building manager, Leo Johnson, who ended up taking a bullet in the arm in the process. 

On Feb. 6, 2013, Corkins pled guilty to three felony charges, including “committing an act of terrorism with the intent to kill.” He had confessed to FBI interrogators that he’d decided to target FRC after seeing the organization listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hate Map.” SPLC’s map showed the locations of “hate groups.” In among the neo-Nazis and white supremacists were the offices of social conservative groups like Concerned Women for America, the National Organization for Marriage and the FRC, labeled “anti-gay.” SPLC characterizes FRC as “among the chief purveyors of lies about LGBT people.” 

So now, two years after that near-tragedy, the Washington Post has published an article by its education writer, Valerie Strauss, attacking FRC and its president Tony Perkins for “spewing such garbage” about the Common Core Education Standards. In her strongly worded piece, Strauss worried that such criticism of Common Core was “bleeding into the mainstream conversation.” 

In the article, Strauss hyped an SPLC report entitled “Public Schools in the Crosshairs: Far-Right Propaganda and the Common Core State Standards,” which denounced criticism of Common Core as “a proxy for a broader assault on public education itself.” 

Apparently a big fan of that SPLC report, Strauss hyped it in a similar article when it came out last May. This earlier article included highlights from the report, listing Fox News, the Tea Party, Glenn Beck and the Christian right as “participants in this extremist campaign.” 

Of course, SPLC has made its considerable fortune seeing extremist campaigns and “hate groups” everywhere and using them to raise money from fearful liberals. Turns out, hate is pretty lucrative – more so when you’re not too particular about whom you call a “hater.” (Just so long as they’re not liberals). Back in March, the FBI removed SPLC as a source from its hate crimes web page. 

The media, on the other hand, have continually been supportive of the SPLC. The FRC shooting itself barely received any coverage at the time, and in the first year since the shooting ABC and NBC interviewed SPLC spokespeople as reliable sources seven times, while The New York Times and The Washington Post cited SPLC “experts” 40 times and only even mentioned a connection to the shooter once. 

As for Strauss, her fear of “a broader assault on public education itself,” rings just a tad hollow, given that her own daughters didn’t participate in the public school system. Instead, they attended Georgetown Day School, which costs at least $30,000 in tuition per year.

Far from being just a conservative issue, Common Core has met with widespread criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal has broken down which states have refused to adopt or withdrawn from Common Core.

— Mike Ciandella is Staff Writer/Analyst for the Business and Media Institute at the Media Research Center. Follow Mike Ciandella on Twitter.