WASHINGTON—Accuracy in Media (AIM) today criticized Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for stacking a hearing on a media shield bill, “The Free Flow of Information Act,” which featured nine witnesses in favor of the proposed legislation and none against. AIM calls the bill “The Special Rights for Journalists Act” because it confers special rights on the media to avoid testifying in criminal and terrorism-related cases.
AIM, the nation’s oldest media watchdog group, was denied an opportunity to testify at the hearing and said that Specter was undoubtedly influenced by the eighty or so media organizations openly lobbying for the bill. They include some of the most powerful in the news business, including CBS, The New York Times Company, News Corporation, CNN, Newsweek, Time Inc., the Tribune Co., NBC Universal, ABC Inc., and The Washington Post. “The coverage of the issue has been as one-sided as the hearing,” said AIM editor Cliff Kincaid. “Now we know why.”
“The hearing was an outrageous attempt to create the public perception that there is no opposition to the bill,” Kincaid said. “In fact, our poll (at www.aim.org) finds that 40 percent of the public opposes the bill and this number would certainly rise if we were provided with anything approaching objective and balanced coverage of the issue in the media.”
Deputy Atty. Gen. James B. Comey was scheduled to appear and provide testimony against the media shield legislation, mainly on national security grounds. But he had a scheduling conflict and had to submit his testimony in writing. If he had appeared, the hearing would have been stacked “only” 9-1.
Accuracy In Media (AIM) is a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight on important issues that have received slanted coverage.