Accuracy in Media

Subscribers to our AIM Report (which is free) get copies of postcards we suggest sending to various media targets. They have an impact. I recently heard from an assistant to Professor Doris Graber, author of the $56 college textbook, Mass Media and American Politics, the target of one of our postcards because she claimed that AIM was founded in the 1980s. In fact, AIM was founded by Reed Irvine in 1969. Graber’s assistant said the textbook would be changed in future editions.

I was also contacted by lawyers involved in the Steven Hatfill lawsuit against the New York Times, who told me that the discovery process had produced dozens of postcards from AIM members sent to the paper asking that it apologize to Hatfill for falsely depicting him as the post-9/11 anthrax killer. A trial in that case is coming soon. If the Times had taken our advice and settled the case, it would not be facing this trial. We will be cheering for a Hatfill victory. He deserves to collect millions.

During a recent debate at the University of Kentucky, pitted against Jeff Cohen, founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, I had the great pleasure of meeting another AIM supporter, Jeff “Mario” Smith, a “guerilla reporter” whose son is in the Armed Forces currently serving in Afghanistan. Here are some excerpts from his story about the debate:

“One of Cohen’s favorite targets was Rupert Murdoch who owns a media empire to be sure. Totally slamming Cohen’s emotional ranting, Cliff Kincaid calmly told the truth about Murdoch’s empire holdings and many of the far left leaning media personalities who spout the liberal line on Murdoch owned stations and even pulled out the ‘donation card.’ Kincaid noted that Murdoch donated money to Harold Ford, Democrat candidate in Tennessee and his stations contributed to boosting Ford’s campaign with their reporting. Murdoch also gave money to Hillary Clinton and his liberal New York Post endorsed Clinton over the excellent conservative John Spencer. If this didn’t blow Cohen’s thesis totally out of the water, then nobody was paying attention.

“A very important point brought out by Cliff Kincaid, when denouncing Cohen’s call for more tax supported media, was the fact that NPR and PBS are federally subsidized and tout the liberal line. When Air America tried to stand on their own two feet, they failed miserably and filed bankruptcy while Hannity, Limbaugh, and Savage are amazingly successful. This proves that if ideas are given the free marketplace in which to flourish, good ideas win over bad ideas, thus the failure of liberal Air America. It can be argued then, that PBS and NPR are only successful because they are given our fleeced tax dollars. I will add that conservative talk radio and conservative television personalities like Hannity and O’Reilly (actually a liberal to this guerilla reporter) have such large audiences because Americans are mostly God fearing conservatives as opposed to the godless liberals who have dominated the networks and print publications for decades.

“While Cohen offered that Northern and Western Europeans are more sophisticated than Americans and linked this to their socialist supported media, Cliff Kincaid reminded the audience that real freedom of ideas will thrive in an unobstructed marketplace and gave many instances of liberal bias using quotes of the actual liberals spouting their biases. Jeff Cohen was out of his league in debating Cliff Kincaid about media bias and in the end the facts and superior ideas presented by Cliff Kincaid won out over the emotion and unsubstantiated claims of Cohen. It was interesting to note also that the first debater to interrupt and become visibly shaken in his shoes, using a lot of negative body language, was of course, the liberal, Jeff Cohen.”

Jeff Smith is probably a bit hard on Cohen. I pointed out in the debate that he has actually written an excellent book, Cable News Confidential, which is full of funny one-liners about Cohen’s experience in the media business. Cohen and I agree that much of cable news has become unwatchable because of its preoccupation with the silly, the absurd and the sensational.

Cohen was once, incidentally, a panelist on the Fox News Watch program, offering liberal/left opinions about the media. He left Fox News, where he was given absolute freedom of speech, to become a producer for the now-defunct Phil Donahue show on MSNBC. Cohen should have stayed at Fox News.

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