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A good example of Obama's warning about the media focusing on 'sexier' stories

The media do damage by playing up every hint of conflict to produce “sexier” stories. Recent coverage of a Southern Poverty Law Center report on 'hate groups' proves the point.

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Obama has had a few choice words for reporters recently. He warned graduates at the University of Michigan of the damage the media do by playing up “every hint of conflict” to produce “sexier” stories.

Vilification on both sides, Obama said, “prevents learning – since after all, why should we listen to a ‘fascist’ or a ‘socialist’ or a ‘right-wing nut’ or a ‘left-wing nut’?”

It’s a lesson that the slew of reporters who have recently cited the spring 2010 report of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), “Rage on the Right: The Year in Hate and Extremism,” should have taken to heart.

The SPLC, known for monitoring hate groups, warned of a resurgent tide of a right-wing movement that in the 1990s “produced an enormous amount of violence.” “Patriot groups – militias and other organizations that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose ‘one-world government’ on liberty-loving Americans,” they reported, “came roaring back after years out of the limelight.”

SLPC spokesman Mark Potok was even more explicit in an interview. He told one reporter that today’s America “feels a lot like the run-up to Oklahoma City,” and penned an opinion article to that effect on the 15th anniversary of the bombing.

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