Provocateur Journalism

Provocateur Journalism
AP Photo/David Goldman, File

When a news organization reports an impending weather event based on forecasts from the National Weather Service, or warns of potential seismic activity anticipated by the U.S. Geological Survey, or alerts the public concerning an infectious-disease outbreak being tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no one questions the news organization's motives, because the underlying information is factual and derived from a reliable, nonpartisan, and authoritative source.

CNN presents itself as a news organization, yet today it posted a dubious story titled “Here are all the active hate groups where you live,” based entirely on data from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC is not the equivalent of the National Weather Service, the USGS, or CDC, to put it mildly. It is risible for CNN to recite SPLC data uncritically, with no additional validation, as a credible list of “domestic hate groups,” let alone to describe SPLC's data as “widely accepted.” As I recently chronicled in City Journal, the SPLC is far from a reliable, nonpartisan, and authoritative source.

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