Getting Your Reputation Back After Conspiracy Smears

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Originally published by Human Events:

There is no “office” where you can get your reputation back. But those who have done so much to sully mine now have the facts shattering theirs.

In 1987, Secretary of Labor Raymond Donovan was acquitted of post-government criminal misconduct. He had been widely vilified in the course of the prosecution. After the trial was over he asked ruefully, “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?”

The large number of innocent individuals who have been embroiled in the witch-hunt over these past two years must now be pondering the same question.

The list includes Mr. Trump himself and many in his family. There are 2016 campaign associates, and key administration staffers, too.

I feel their pain.

For much of the past decade, I have been subjected to vicious ad hominem attacks by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Such groups have relentlessly peddled the false narrative that I am a racist, hater, bigot, Islamophobe, and conspiracy theorist.

Others in politics or in the press, too lazy to establish the facts for themselves or too invested in marginalizing effective opponents, blithely repeat such smears. Like Team Trump, the organization I helped found 31 years ago – the Center for Security Policy – and I have been materially harmed as a result.

In recent months something has become evident to any objective observer: my accusers are now the ones being discredited. To the point where others who repeat their calumnies risk becoming objects of ridicule, if not complicit in the slander.

Take the case of the SPLC.

On March 25, 2019 the New York Times reported that “20 [SPLC] employees signed their names to a letter to the organization’s executives, writing that ‘allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism threaten the moral authority of this organization and our integrity along with it.’”

SPLC co-founder, Morris Dees, was summarily terminated, apparently for a pattern of harassing female subordinates. Two other longtime members of the Center’s senior management, President Roger Cohen and Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein, have resigned in the wake of this scandal.

Four days later, the Washington Examiner revealed that, “The SPLC’s highest-ranking black woman, senior attorney Meredith Horton, had resigned, and according to the Los Angeles Times, other female staffers had signed letters protesting office mistreatment and discrimination.”

These are not isolated instances of egregious hypocrisy and malfeasance on the part of the SPLC. Dozens more are documented at

Every journalist, politician, and partisan who cites the SPLC is on notice that, in so doing, they are not only associating with a thoroughly discredited source. They are discrediting themselves, as well.

Amidst the SPLC’s meltdown, its unlikely but steadfast ally, the Council on American Islamic Relations, has evidently decided to pick up the slack, doubling down on its own efforts to smear and silence adversaries of their “Red-Green axis.”

Leftist journalists and partisan operatives happy to assist in such political warfare echo CAIR’s slander and claims to be a “civil rights organization”. Especially political warfare against informed, effective critics of Sharia-supremacists groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

In doing so they chose to ignore some inconvenient facts.

In 2008, the Department of Justice established in federal court that CAIR was founded twenty-five years ago by the Brotherhood’s Palestinian franchise, Hamas – a designated foreign terrorist organization.

A number of its staff and other affiliates have actually been convicted on terror charges. The organization was an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism-finance trial in U.S. history.

Wouldn’t any honest reporter or political figure take the invective such a group spews with at least a grain of salt?

There are fewer and fewer of those who accuse others of being conspiracy theorists who can cast the first stone.

In the wake of what President Trump has aptly dubbed “the Russian collusion delusion,” one would be hard pressed to find a mainstream news outlet, past or present Democratic office-holder, or political operative who hasn’t theorized at some point about an ominous – yet non-existent – conspiracy.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy appeared on my Secure Freedom Radio show.

He told me when he worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney under Rudy Giuliani in the Southern District of New York, the office had an adage: “Every conspiracy begins with a conspiracy theory.”

The difference between recognizing and exposing an actual conspiracy and promoting theories about non-existent ones comes down to a question of facts.

I am proud to have spent my life focusing on the former, unlike so many of my critics. It amounts, as Mark Twain famously quipped, to “the difference between lightning and lightning bugs.”

There is no “office” where you can get your reputation back. But those who have done so much to sully mine now have the facts shattering theirs.

Frank J. Gaffney acted as an Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Reagan. He is the Executive Chairman of the Center for Security Policy in Washington.

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