The Hill may be one of the most influential political news sites on social media. This makes its editors’ decisions to allow hate group leaders a voice on its platform all the more troubling.
According to metrics from traffic-measuring site Quantcast, TheHill.com ranks among the top 50 most popular mobile websites in the United States with almost 9 million unique mobile users each month. The site has established itself as a reputable source for political news, with Brittanica.com describing its editorial stance as “nonpartisan and objective.” However, The Hill’s obsession with Mark Krikorian is endangering that reputation.
Recently, The Hill ran an op-ed column from Krikorian — the executive director of the Center for immigration Studies (CIS) — with a bald-faced lie in the headline that the rallying cry of “Abolish ICE” somehow equates to a call to abolish borders (even though America still had international borders prior to 2002, when the Department of Homeland Security and ICE were established).
The site ran another column from Krikorian defending the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their parents at the border, and at least two of the outlet’s reporters have used Krikorian as a source, with only one of those reporters saying anything about his work other than as an advocate for “stricter immigration policies.”
This is obviously problematic, given that The Hill is seen as a mainstream, reputable news outlet regularly read and shared by millions of Americans, and that Krikorian’s group has been designated as an official hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). In a 2017 report on CIS, the SPLC pointed out that the group has consistently allowed racist and antisemitic writers to produce studies and reports, and has circulated white nationalist content on more than 2,000 occasions. The SPLC also reported on how CIS insidiously crafts its brand and appearance to look credible to casual observers:
The designation resulted primarily from [CIS’] move to start publishing the work of discredited race scientist Jason Richwine (who was once forced to resign from the arch-conservative Heritage Foundation) and their shocking circulation of an article from one of America’s most prominent white nationalist websites and another written by a fringe Holocaust-denier in their weekly newsletter.
…Speaking about CIS to Univision in August of 2017, Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez stated, “Their research is always questionable because they torture the data to make it arrive at the conclusion they desire, which is that immigrants are criminals and a burden on the U.S. and our economy. It is the worst kind of deception, but politicians, the conservative media and some Americans eat it up because it always looks somewhat legitimate at first glance.”
As a major publisher of political content seen as reputable in the eyes of everyday Americans, The Hill has a responsibility to make sure the authors on its op-ed page, as well as its sources, are above board and on the level. Otherwise, the publication runs the risk of mainstreaming extremist and racist ideology by offering its substantial platform to people who seek to propagate outdated views.