Gov. Bryant Missed Mark on ‘Hate’ PostBy DAVID GUSTAFSON,
Fresh on the heels of a trip to Washington to hobnob with President Trump and members of the cabinet, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant took to Facebook on Wednesday to call out the media for bringing attention to Mississippi’s ranking as the state with the third-highest number of hate groups per capita.
Calling it “fake news,” Bryant admonished The Clarion Ledger for publishing the results of the report recently released by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“There they go again,” said Bryant. “The blame-Mississippi crowd takes the report of a partisan organization that once labeled the American Family Association a hate group and treats it as news.”
In the rankings, Mississippi lands behind Idaho and Tennessee with just five hate groups per million residents.
Bryant could have made his Facebook post a positive one by condemning hate in general, or pointing out that the article cites just 15 total hate groups in Mississippi, while some states have as many as 40.
He could have mentioned that these groups are primarily white nationalists, as the article details.
Instead, he pivoted to defend the American Family Association, an aggressive anti-LGBT activist group, and then went further, referring to a data driven report as "fake news," even though the article was published by The Clarion Ledger, the largest newspaper in the state.
Bryant should be reminded that by definition, a hate group is an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.
For the record, many people believe the American Family Association fits squarely in that definition and it’s widely accepted that the Tupelo-based “news” organization disseminates more actual “fake news” in this state than all other media outlets combined.
With Wednesday’s announcement by State Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville that he intends to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi will soon be inundated with the same unpleasant national attention that neighboring Alabama received last year when Judge Roy Moore was soundly defeated by a Democrat.
In the meantime, Gov. Bryant, like the President, needs a close advisor to help him choose his words more carefully – especially when it comes to social media.