Poynter Institute’s now-retracted “Index of Unreliable News Websites,” which was criticized for its inclusion of several prominent conservative-leaning outfits, was compiled by someone who works for the disgraced Southern Poverty Law Center.
What was this Index?
On Tuesday, Poynter released a list of 515 “unreliable websites” and encouraged advertisers to take this information into account when making business decisions. This list was criticized for seeming to target conservative leaning websites, including CNSNews, the Daily Caller, the Daily Signal, the Daily Wire, the Drudge Report, Live Action, LifeSiteNews, Newsmax, RedState, the Washington Free Beacon, and TheBlaze.
By Thursday, Poynter had deleted the list and issued an apology, admitting that they had “found weakness in the methodology” of the list.
Who wrote it?
This list was created for Poynter by Barrett Golding. Golding is an employee at the Southern Poverty Law Center. A LinkedIn profile that appears to belong to Golding lists him as a “podcast producer” at the SPLC since January.
The SPLC has had for years a list of organizations it labels as “hate groups.” These include conservative groups like the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom.
In 2012, Floyd Corkins told the FBI that the SPLC’s “hate map” was the inspiration behind his decision to kill employees of the Family Research Council. In that instance, the building manager, Leo Johnson, was able to restrain Corkins before he could carry out his plan, suffering a gunshot wound in the process.
More recently, the SPLC’s co-founder, Morris Dees, was forced out of the organization on March 13 following accusations that he had discriminated against black employees. The group’s president, Richard Cohen, resigned the following Friday “in order to give the organization the best chance to heal.”
In April, Twitter severed its own relationship with the SPLC. Until that point, the SPLC had been a “safety partner” in Twitter’s stated goal of fighting “hateful conduct and harassment.”
In addition to this list, Golding has also written a number of stories about the scourge of fake news for the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri’s Missouri School of Journalism. In one story from Feb. 15, 2017, he wrote a sentence that he may have wanted to take to heart before putting together such an outrageous list of websites: “To fight fake news, don’t be like fake news. Stop promoting it. Stop funding it. Stop looking like it. Stop writing like it.”