Alabama Political Reporter
Southern Poverty Law Center Co-Founder and Chief Trial Counsel Morris Dees said on Wednesday, March 22, that the organization is filing a lawsuit in April against a hate group.
Dees said this at a speech he gave at Troy University’s main campus in Troy, Alabama, at their annual Journalism Symposium. Troy’s journalism department puts on an annual event where a speaker comes to address students and staff. Dees was this year’s invited speaker.
Dees did not name anyone during his speech but did give details about who SPLC is suing. He said it was a large “internet hate group” that was run by “far right” people. He said they have been “harassing a Jewish family.”
An organization that has been criticized for allegedly “harassing a Jewish family” is Breitbart News.
Breitbart News is a news website that publishes stories mainly on politics and culture. Some critics of the organization have said the news is slanted towards conservative values. They are also regarded by some as a mouthpiece for the new alt-right movement in America.
Breitbart has been nationally recognized for its connections with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and administration. Steve Bannon, who was the executive chair at Breitbart, was a top official in Trump’s campaign and is now the Chief Strategist for the White House and an Adviser to President Trump.
While it cannot be confirmed that Breitbart is being sued by the SPLC, the description of “harassing a Jewish family” matches events that happened last year in December 2016.
In 2016, Breitbart News published an article about a Jewish family in a Pennsylvania town.
In the story, they said a Jewish family in the town had asked that a production of an elementary school play not include a line pertaining to God. The play was based off Charles Dickens’ book “A Christmas Carol.”
The line that was reportedly asked to be cut was the last line of the play: “God bless us, everyone.” In the end, the play was cancelled entirely.
The story was met with push back by critics of Breitbart. They said the article encouraged hateful attitudes towards the Jewish family in the town and some accused Breitbart of antisemitism.
It was falsely reported by some news outlets that the family had to leave town. The Anti-Defamation League confirmed later that this did not happen.
Breitbart published a follow up article denouncing critics of the story as proponents of fake news and articles written in response as “left-wing clickbait.”
The SPLC has commented on Breitbart in the past in their Hatewatch articles on their website. Hatewatch is an SPLC article series that “monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right,” according to their website.
They have called Breitbart a primary news source for “Neo-Nazis and White Nationalists.” They said under Bannon, Breitbart had become an alt-right news source and haven for far-right extremist.