Conspiracy theories do not belong in news organizations

Published 8:03 pm Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dear Editor,

I came across a very interesting news item on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) website today, entitled “SPLC President Calls on CNN to Remove Lou Dobbs from Air, Cites Newsman’s Support for Extremist-Inspired ‘Birther’ Claims.”

In the SPLC’s news item (the text of SPLC’s letter to CNN president Jonathan Klein), we learn that SPLC president J. Richard Cohen is calling on CNN to remove Lou Dobbs, who, according to Mr. Cohen “…is again trading in falsehoods and racist conspiracy theories” Mr. Cohen goes on to tell CNN that “Respectable news organizations should not employ reporters willing to peddle racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda. It’s time for CNN to remove Mr. Dobbs from the airwaves.”

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While the subject of Mr. Cohen’s letter to CNN is about Lou Dobbs’ questioning of president Obama’s birth certificate, a subject that is not on this writer’s radar screen, the context of his letter to CNN and particularly the above portions jumped out at me. Racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda should never be left to stand in our society and culture because they always set back progress that has been and continues to be made in the area of equality and opportunity. There are enough true horror stories about race relations that still need to be told.

To that end, I call on the SPLC to immediately remove its writer David Holthouse from its editorial staff, and correct the racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda that were recently foisted upon its readers and the public in his story “Outside Agitators” from the SPLC’s Winter 2008 issue of their “Intelligence Report”, as well as their current web site. Holthouse’s “Outside Agitator” story is not much more than a racist conspiracy theory that contains much false propaganda about the Freedom Foundation and its cult leadership. Similar to Cohen’s praised heaped upon CNN staffers with who he agrees, please know that I support many of the things that the SPLC does and stands for and I know that there are some very good people who work at the SPLC, but in the same vein of Cohen’s thoughts on Lou Dobbs, Holthouse needs to go.

I agree with Cohen. Respectable news organizations should not employ reporters willing to peddle racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda. For my part, that sentiment also applies to nonprofit organizations that purport to fight for justice and tolerance. Mr. Cohen, it’s time for the Southern Poverty Law Center to do the right thing: remove Mr. Holthouse from writing for your publications and make the necessary corrections to your “Outside Agitators” story.


Allan McConnell, president

RADAR13 Ministries – Birmingham, AL