Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) called out ABC News for irresponsibly parroting a “hate group” label of the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) when identifying NRB member Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Reporting on a speaking engagement of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, ABC called ADF an “anti-LGBT hate group” in its headline and article text. The article also linked to SPLC’s page attacking ADF.
Lankford rebuked ABC in a letter to the network’s president, James Goldston. He defended ADF as “peaceful” and “reputable,” and said, “I found it odd that ABC would designate ADF as a hate group not based on any actual crime or action, but apparently based on their belief in religious liberty or traditional marriage.”
The senator emphasized the importance of the First Amendment freedoms of speech and the press, and the responsibility of those with powerful voices in the public square to take care in the words they use. Lankford said that “disagreement is not the same as discrimination and it’s not the same as hate.” He warned, “Labeling ADF a ‘hate group’ feeds into a narrative that the news media frequently editorializes beyond the facts. This ultimately harms American trust in the press.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: August 4, 2017