The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

How the Left’s Online Meme Machine Helped Create a Murder Myth in Texas

Posted on | April 15, 2013 | 42 Comments

MSNBC’s Martin Bashir interviews SPLC’s Mark Potok, April 1

Officials in Kaufman County, Texas, have arrested Eric Lyle Williams, a former justice of the peace, who is expected to be charged with the murder of three people — a crime to which MSNBC’s Chris Matthews devoted an eight-minute segment of his April 3 show, portraying the murders as the work of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang.

How did this happen? On Sunday night, March 31, Kevin Krause of the Dallas Morning News filed a story that reported this:

The killing of the Kaufman County district attorney and his wife is likely to turn up the heat on the notorious Aryan Brotherhood of Texas prison gang.
Suspicion already had fallen on the Aryan Brotherhood after Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down Jan. 31 near the Kaufman County Courthouse.
Now, with the slaying of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, at their home near Forney, law enforcement sources say authorities will pursue any possible connections between the cases and the violent white supremacist gang. . . .
An official with the U.S. Marshals Service recently said in a widely circulated email that the Aryan Brotherhood was the focus of its investigation into Hasse’s death.

So this was an actual suspicion, and we don’t yet know the name of the official who sent this “widely circulated email,” but that’s OK: You can contact Kevin Krause on Twitter and ask him to follow up, to figure out why taxpayer resources were wasted chasing that wild goose.

Let’s talk about the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has amassed a $256 million bankroll through constant fear-mongering since 1971:

[The SPLC] has transformed itself into an all-purpose antihate crusader, labeling 1,007 different organizations across America at last count as “anti-gay,” “white nationalist,” “anti-Muslim,” “anti-immigrant,” or just plain hateful (one SPLC category is “general hate”). The SPLC put the FRC on its list of “anti-gay” organizations in 2010, and the SPLC’s “Hate Map” page, whose banner displays men in Nazi-style helmets giving Sieg Heil salutes, lists the [Family Research Council] among 14 hate groups headquartered in the District of Columbia.

Ask Anna Maria Hoffman what it was like that day last year when SPLC-inspired terrorist Floyd Corkins came to kill her and her friends. And then ask yourself, “Why did it take more than two months after the murder of Mark Haase for officials to arrest Eric Williams? Why was Williams left free for 10 weeks — during which Mike and Cynthia McLelland were also murdered — while investigators reportedly chased a wild-goose theory about the Aryan Brotherhood?”

On Jan. 31, the day after Haase was killed, Mark Potok posted a 1,300-word article entitled, “Texas Prosecutor ‘Involved’ in Aryan Brotherhood Investigation is Slain.” And on April 1, the Monday after the McLellands were murdered, Potok appeared on Martin Bashir’s MSNBC show:

BASHIR: “Speculation has quickly turned toward white supremacists. . . . Is this gang solely based on racial hatred? And how do you think they might be linked to these killings?”
POTOK: “Well, like most of these race-based prison gangs, they are fundamentally a criminal enterprise. . . .”

Now, I raise the subject of this interview for a specific reason. On Sunday night, March 31, when Kevin Krause filed his report at the Dallas Morning News, this was the headline:

Texas prison gang to get scrutiny
in double slaying, sources say

At 4 p.m. the next day, Aviv Shen posted an article at Think Progress with this headline:

The White Supremacist Group That May
Be Targeting Law Enforcement For Revenge

Notice a difference in those two headlines? Shen’s Think Progress article cited — you guessed, didn’t you? — Mark Potok’s Jan. 31 article, and Potok appeared that same day on Bashir’s MSNBC program which airs daily . . . at 4 p.m. ET. These coincidences are just so amazing, eh?

And within minutes of the publication of this Think Progress article, the story was picked up by other liberals online:

White supremacist group possibly
involved in slaying of Texas DA

— Emma Margolin, 4:36 p.m. ET

Aryan Brotherhood Of Texas Believed
To Be Behind DA Killings

— Alan Colmes, 4:51 p.m. ET

So by 5:10 p.m. ET, this was the Memeorandum thread:

If the latest news out of Kaufman County, Texas, is to be believed, this whole theory about “white supremacists” was entirely wrong — a complete waste of time, a misdirection from the actual culprit:

The day after the bodies of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were found, an anonymous email went to county officials threatening another attack if the writer’s demands were not met.
Law enforcement authorities have since traced the threat to the personal computer of Eric Williams, a former justice of the peace who is now the prime suspect in the slayings. He is expected to be charged with capital murder as early as Tuesday, law enforcement authorities said Sunday.
Authorities on Saturday found numerous weapons inside a Seagoville storage unit linked to Williams as well as a car similar to the one seen leaving the McLellands’ neighborhood on the morning of the Easter weekend slayings.
“It’s a very good feeling when the pieces start to fall into place,” one law enforcement official said Sunday.

The pieces might have fallen into place earlier — Mark Haase’s murder might have been solved, and Williams arrested before McLelland was killed —  if law enforcement hadn’t wasted time chasing the “white supremacist” wild goose, when the D.A. himself tried to tell them who murdered Mark Haase:

County Judge Bruce Wood said Sunday that McLelland repeatedly told him that McLelland believed Williams was behind Hasse’s slaying. The first time was in the emergency room in the hours after Hasse was shot down by a mysterious gunman dressed in black.
“He was distraught,” Wood said. “He very pointedly said to me, ‘I know who did this.’ I said, ‘Well, who, Mike?’ He said, ‘Well, Eric Williams.’”
McLelland, who worked for years as a diagnostic psychologist, described Williams as “a narcissistic psychopath” during that conversation and others. Wood said McLelland never elaborated on why he thought Williams was involved.
On March 27, Wood said he met with McLelland in the county judge’s office. “I said, ‘Are you still convinced that it’s Eric Williams?’” Wood recalled. “He said, ‘Absolutely.’”

Mike McLelland was shot dead four days later, which gave Mark Potok a chance to go on MSNBC, but I guarantee you that Martin Bashir and Chris Matthews won’t say another word about this crime now that we know the truth. Because they don’t give a damn about truth.