From the Washington Post opinion page:
By Jim Tharpe April 5
Jim Tharpe is a retired journalist who lives in Atlanta and a former managing editor of the Montgomery Advertiser.
There’s something strange afoot at the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the nation’s richest civil and human rights charities.
… But to those of us familiar with the SPLC and its inner workings, the allegations swirling around the latest drama were familiar. The question isn’t what went wrong at the SPLC; it is why it took so long for the rest of the country to learn what local reporters already knew.
It’s almost as if the media in the rest of the country didn’t want to know.
It will probably take a federal investigation to fully unravel this deep-South mystery and provide a credible, long-term fix.
More than two decades ago, I was managing editor of the Montgomery Advertiser, which was located one block from the SPLC in downtown Montgomery , Ala. I proposed an investigation into the organization after ongoing complaints from former SPLC staffers, who came and went with regularity but always seemed to tell the same story. Only the names and faces changed. The SPLC, they said, was not what it appeared to be. Many urged the newspaper to take a look. …
And yet, based on the details of Dees’s ouster, the problems we identified 25 years ago do not appear to have been resolved.
… Cohen, before he announced his own departure, said the center would bring in well-regarded lawyer Tina Tchen to conduct an investigation. It’s too late for that. The Internal Revenue Service, which grants the SPLC tax-exempt status, and the civil rights division of the Justice Department would be the best bets to really figure out what’s up at the center.
Any investigation should take a close look at the SPLC’s finances. It should look at what the center has told donors in its mail solicitations over the years. And it should take a close look at how that donor money has been spent.
If there really is a half billion dollars stashed away, then not all that much money has been spent. The stunning secret of the SPLC scandal could be less that they’ve wasted money than that they’ve saved money … because there’s nothing much worth spending the money upon. The SPLC’s vastly popular campaign against Hate Groups is more like a campaign against the Evil Eye and Bad Juju than a campaign against a real problem.
That’s why the national media couldn’t grasp that anything was wrong at the SPLC despite all the evidence over the last quarter of a century: because they were sniffing the same KKKrazy Glue.
iSteve commenter Nathan writes:
What I’d like to know is what other really big stories are out there that local news reporters know that aren’t widely known? There’s still a huge number of regional newspapers and local TV news stations. What bombshells are they reporting on that aren’t making it to the national scene?
And what stories that would be huge national news aren’t even making the local news?
We saw it with the Jussie Smollett hate hoax: the local Chicago reporters were talking to Chicago cops who were telling them that there’s, you know, more to this story. Meanwhile the national media is just taking it all as gospel.