WASHINGTON POST PUBLISHES...

WASHINGTON POST PUBLISHES AN OPINION PIECE BY AN OPERATIVE FOR RIGHT-WING HATE GROUPS. Did anyone else notice this? Over the weekend, Fred Hiatt and other Washington Post editors allowed their paper to be used as a platform for an "opinion" piece written by a GOP operative who gets paid to help right-wing hate groups spread their messages and advance their agendas. On Saturday, it published an Op-ed by Craig Shirley, in which he argued that the GOP's pro-immigration "elites" would do well to listen to "Reagan populists," who were key to the right's ascendance and are now "concerned about lawlessness on our border."

At the end of the piece came this rather odd disclaimer about Shirley: "His firm has clients concerned with immigration issues."

But that disclaimer is so understated and benign as to be almost misleading. According to the Web site of Shirley's PR firm, Shirley and Banister Public Affairs, the company counts among its clients groups who think the US should be able to kick out any foreigner at will and who think that immigration is to blame for terrorism. For instance, there's the "Freedom Alliance," which was founded by Oliver North and holds the position that America should imitate Mexico and adopt laws that allow for immigrants -- and not just illegal ones -- to be "expelled for any reason and without due process." Shirley's firm also represents a group called "Let Freedom Ring, Inc.," which recently pushed for a security fence along the Mexican border and ran a TV ad showing the 9-11 attacks while arguing that "illegal immigration from Mexico provides easy cover for terrorists."

Incidentally, the hate-spewing of Shirley's clients isn't confined to immigration; they despise homosexuality as well. Another of his firm's clients is the "Traditional Values Coalition," an organization whose web site offers lists of "counseling services" for "individuals who are struggling with homosexual attractions or related Gender Identity Disorders," because "there is hope for individuals who wish to break free from unwanted same-sex attractions" and other "mental conditions."

Now the Washington Post's editors are free to publish who they want -- it's their paper. And Shirley has plenty of perfectly acceptable clients. But still, that disclaimer was inadequate, to say the least. And you'd think the last thing Post editors would want to do is provide a forum for a guy who makes a profession of pushing the views and agendas of paying clients, especially when some of them are such vicious bigots.

--Greg Sargent

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