Reed Irvine - Editor
|October - A , 1989||XVIII-19|
THE RETROMINGENT VIGILANTES REVEL
On September 22, Paul Harvey, America's most listened to radio newscaster and commentator, said on his noontime broadcast, "Today is the birthday of AIM, Accuracy in Media. For 20 years Reed Irvine's AIM has been watch dogging news media, exposing bias, error and distortion. Of all the ecological crusaders these days, none may have as his mission a more urgent mission than does Reed Irvine, to reduce to the extent that he can invidious, insidious air pollution of the most dangerous kind."
That night, 255 members and friends of AIM gathered in the ballroom of the National Press Club in Washington to celebrate that birthday. Hurricane Hugo, which was supposed to devastate Washington, veered off to the west. Un dampened and in high spirits, our celebrants honored AIM and its founder, Reed Irvine, five distinguished media victims and one out- standing journalist, Patrick J. Buchanan. We also inducted all those present into the Order of the Miserable Carping Retromingent Vigilantes, singling out as the first members of this newly created order a dozen individuals representative of all of you who have, in your own way, helped fight the battle for accuracy in the media.
The banquet was fun with a serious side. During the reception that preceded it, a "newsboy" hawked a special edition of The Washington Inquirer that carried the headline, "AIM, IRVINE BUY CBS." The newly inducted members of our new order were presented with handsome certificates bearing a beribboned AIM seal certifying their membership in this elite group.
In 20 years, AIM has grown from its humble beginning in a Washington, D.C. Chinese restaurant, funded by a $200 gift from Wilson C. Lucom, to a 30,000-member organization with a $1.5 million annual budget. Those who gathered to celebrate its birthday received congratulatory messages from the president and vice president of the United States, two former presidents, and many other distinguished Americans.
President Bush wrote: "The decisions made daily about what will be reported to the American people are vital to the welfare of our nation. The judgment of the American journalist is constantly tested, not only in the selection of news, but also in the range of opinions presented. Accuracy in Media is recognized for its two decades of work to ensure that those decisions result in quality reporting without bias or distortion."
Ronald Reagan, describing himself as "an avid admirer of AIM for many years," wrote, "My friend Reed Irvine has led AIM in its relentless efforts to keep the printed and electronic mediums in check. I think he will agree that this country's enemy...is the tyranny of those people that would have us believe anything less than the truth. I applaud everyone at AIM for keeping up the good fight."
Former President Nixon wrote, in a "Dear Reed" letter, "As a conservative who isn't afraid to tell it like it is about the press, you have two strikes against you before you even enter the batter's box against the powerful media mega monopolies. But your grit, determination, and the sheer authority of your beliefs have helped you hit one grand slam after another." Mr. Nixon congratulated Irvine "as you begin your second 20 years of saying what no one else dares to say."
In responding to his induction into the Retromingent Vigilantes, AIM's director of media analysis, Joe Goulden, pointed out that Mr. Nixon had just borrowed a tactic from AIM to protest ABC's planned showing on Oct. 29 of a docudrama entitled The Final Days. This is based on the book of that title published in 1976 by reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein purporting to describe the White House in the last days of the Nixon administration. An AIM Report written by Victor Lasky had shown this book to be ridded with errors and exaggerations. ABC officials admitted to AIM that they had consulted no outside experts in producing their docudrama and said none would be used. They had tried to get the Pentagon to cooperate in the production by claiming they were doing a program titled "EOB," the abbreviation for "Executive Office Building," the building adjoining the White House.
AT&T plans to sponsor this docudrama. When no one at AT&T would respond to the concerns Mr. Nixon's office had that the program would repeat the serious distortions in the book, they decided to act. John H. Taylor, Mr. Nixon's executive assistant, told us, "We are using one of the few levers we have--one right out of AIM's book." He said that President Nixon's office would shift its long- distance phone business from AT&T to MCI as soon as they could find out how to do it. That's easy. You (1) call MCI on 1-800-333-5000 and give them your phone and social security numbers, and (2) call your local phone company and say you want to make the change. They will charge you $5.00, but MCI will reimburse you for that.
We invited as our honored speakers some people who had suffered at the hands of the media. Mrs. Sophia Casey, widow of the late director of central intelligence William J. Casey, said Bob Woodward had created "an outright lie" about his interview with her husband in his hospital room "to provide a dramatic ending" for his book, Veil. She said, "This outright lie would not have been brought to the attention of the public without Reed Irvine, Victor Lasky and Accuracy in Media." She also cited one other false story in Veil that attracted press attention--the allegation that the CIA was indirectly involved in a 1985 car bombing in Beirut that killed 80 people. She pointed out that in a speech published in his posthumous book, Scouting the Future, Bill Casey had denounced this story, saying he had warned Woodward he would have blood on his hands if he put it in the paper. Woodward disregarded the warning, and Mrs. Casey said there is evidence indicating that the murder of an American Navy diver, Robert Stethem, shortly after that story appeared in The Washington Post, was committed to avenge that car bombing. Lasky exposed this and other lies in Woodward's book in an article we published in the May-A 1988 AIM Report.
Leo Damore, author of Senatorial Privilege, The Chappaquiddick Cover-up, described the difficulties he encountered in getting this book published. He said it was "dead in the water" until, in desperation, he contacted AIM. AIM found a publisher, Regnery Gateway that was willing to publish the book. Damore told how it became a bestseller despite the refusal of the big media to publicize it. He gives credit for that to the hundreds of interviews he did on talk radio. He said The New York Times finally gave the book a grudging review after it had been on their bestseller list for 14 weeks.
Roy Innis, a founder of the Congress of Racial Equality, called AIM "the foe of media absolutism." A fighter against crime, drugs and racism, Innis condemned the media for building up demagogic agitators such as "Emperor Jesse" and the "Duke of Brooklyn, Al Sharpton," as spokesmen and leaders of the black community. He cited the conservative New York Post as one of the worst offenders. He contrasted the media attention given to the murder of Yusuf Hawkins; the black youth killed by whites in Bensonhurst, with the lack of attention to the murder of a black scholarship student, Sean Vaughan, by blacks in New York. He said Vaughan was only one of six black youths killed in that same neighborhood by blacks. The score was six to one, but black murders of blacks were not treated as newsworthy.
James C. Quayle, the father of Vice President Dan Quayle, said that as a veteran newsman he was astounded at published distortions about his family when son Dan was nominated for vice president. He described an article by Gail Sheehy that described him as a tyrant and Dan as a spoiled "little rich kid" as "a pile of Sheehy." He pointed out that the wealth of the Quayle family had been vastly overstated, and that Dan had washed dishes in his fraternity house at DePauw University to help cover expenses. Nor was Dan a puppet of "handlers" in his campaign: "The only 'handlers' we had were for the luggage," Quayle quipped.
Judge Robert Bork and columnist Pat Buchanan discussed the changes that have taken place in the media over the past 20 years. Buchanan, who was presented with AIM's "Outstanding Journalist Award," saw positive signs, in the proliferation of op-ed pages in newspapers, the proliferation of conservative voices on radio, and the development of TV talk shows such as Crossfire, Capitol Hill Gang and "that intellectual food fight known as The McLaughlin Group," which give equal time to conservatives. Buchanan cited "the sensitizing of the American people to the national press," pointing out that people no longer take on faith what they see on TV. He said, "They look at TV and say, 'Hey, mom, did you see what that SOB Rather just said?'.... The credibility of these people is beginning to fall to its proper level, and I think that Reed Irvine had a great deal to do with that." He quoted an old saying, "Courage is a contagious commodity," and credited Irvine with "being out there on the point," giving courage to others to follow. He concluded, "Thanks to Reed, I think we have a tremendous movement here trying to straighten up the media and make it fly right. And none of it could have happened without the support of people like these in this room who have backed him all the way."
Judge Bork's experience with the media has been less pleasant than Buchanan's. In 1987, The New York Times ran 27 columns (15 of them by Anthony Lewis and Tom Wicker) and five editorials opposing his nomination to the Supreme Court, compared to 12 columns that were on his side. Bork said he wouldn't get too euphoric about the progress that had been made. He feared things had gotten worse. He cited all the inaccurate stories about Hurricane Hugo hitting Washington, saying, "It was kind of peculiar the way they were timed just before this banquet." He said watching the three network news shows was like reading The Washington Post three times, and that nine-tenths of the articles on the op-ed page of The New York Times seemed to be written by somebody named "Anthony Wicker." He had been told that the media were "this way" because journalists are intellectuals. He said, "I looked at the three network anchormen, and it didn't seem like a plausible theory."
Bork said one reason he thought things were getting worse was because the 'sixties generation had reached middle age and had achieved tenured positions in academia and were very active in the press and public interest groups. He said they had moved the Democratic Party sharply to the left. "Maybe that's a permanent change," Bork said, "but maybe we will return to normal once the 'sixties generation goes to its reward. And I have strong hopes about what that reward will be."
During the banquet, a dozen individuals were inducted into the Order of Miserable Carping Retromingent Vigilantes. Each received a handsome certificate signed by Reed Irvine and bearing the AIM seal, conferring upon them "all the gifts, privileges and powers of retromingency, including the gift of remembering like an elephant, the privilege of roaring like a lion and the power to fight like a tiger." The certificates bear a reproduction of a letter sent to Irvine in 1978 by executive editor Ben Bradlee of The Washington Post. Bradlee labeled Irvine "a miserable, carping retromingent vigilante" because he had dared suggest that Laurence Stern, national news editor of The Post, had been helping the Communists by suppressing news about the genocide being carried out in Cambodia by the communist dictator, Pol Pot.
Certificates of induction were presented to AIM's president and most eloquent orator, Murray Baron; vice president Wilson C. Lucom, whose $200 contribution provided the seed money to launch AIM in 1969; AIM communications director and strategic thinker, Bernard Yoh; Joseph C. Goulden, author of Fit to Print: A.M. Rosenthal and His Times, who is now AIM's director of media analysis; Charles Wiley, one of the most active and popular lecturers for the AIM speakers bureau; Cliff Kineaid, co-star of AIM's Media Monitor radio program, radio talk show host and media reporter for The New York City Tribune; Victor Lasky, the renowned columnist and author, who has written several special AIM Reports; Dr. Thomas H. Jukes and Dr. Petr Beckmann, two of AIM's outstanding scientific advisers; Dr. Ernest Lefever, founder of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of a seminal work of media criticism, TV and National Defense; M. Stanton Evans, columnist and founder of the National Journalism Center, which trains uncorrupted young people who aspire to be journalists; Mrs. Annie Kerr Blessed, an indefatigable 80-year-old letter writer from Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan; and Dr. Paul Busiek, an analyst of the Communist Party press from Springfield, Missouri.
Tributes were paid to some of AIM's benefactors, including some who have passed on. Special honor is due to Lawrence Fertig, who died in 1986. His will allocate 1/25 of his charitable bequests to AIM. Final payment was recently received, bringing the total to $485,000. Harold W. Siebens, who passed away last January, was a major supporter of both AIM and Accuracy in Academia. He set up a trust, which, in accordance with his wishes, is continuing that support. AIM recently honored three of our living major benefactors, Shelby Cullom Davis, Walter Schloss and George Barasch, presenting them with beautiful portraits of themselves painted by an outstanding artist, Thomas P. Curtis of Milwaukee. At the banquet, a Curtis portrait of Reed Irvine was presented to AIM, funded by a gift from Walter Schloss.
The celebration concluded on September 23 with a symposium that examined the pernicious influence Marxist thought has exerted on our media in the past and on what will take its place now that the allure of socialism is fading. Irvine, who moderated the panels, distributed a paper in which he said that until the Communist regimes themselves permitted the criticism of Marxism to be published in their own journals, many of our opinion molders operated on the assumption that Marxism was an acceptable system, some saying that it was superior to ours, especially for poorer countries. He said that many in our media believed that communism would be better for South Vietnam than the system we were defending, and this was an important factor in the tragic loss of that war.
The panel on "Communism--The Dream They Lost" agreed that communism is a dying ideology, but they also warned that its influence is still felt in our newsrooms. Murray Baron pointed out that many persons who served the communist cause (such as the late I. F. Stone) are being granted "posthumous exoneration" through laudatory obituaries that overlook their service to Stalin. He pointed out that Stone and other recently departed far-leftists have been praised in New York Times editorials, but that no such honor was bestowed on Sidney Hook, an anti- communist titan.
Peter Collier, a former editor of Ramparts, a radical '60s magazine, and co-author with David Horowitz of The Destructive Generation, developed the same theme in discussing the media treatment of slain Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton. Collier said Newton was never anything more than a criminal. A drug pusher whom he was trying to cheat or rob killed him, but much of the press still called the Black Panther Party, "for one last time, victims of police repression," Collier said. He warned that the left had the dual goals of infiltrating and discrediting the mass media. "We were building a cadre" of revolutionists, he said, citing some of those who have succeeded in the mainstream media.
Arnold Beichman, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, pointed to the irony of people fleeing from Marxism wherever it rules while intellectuals, particularly in the U.S., are studying and prescribing Marxism as the sovereign remedy for all man's ills. He said we were seeing "an historic global plebiscite against Marxism" as "whole populations" seek to escape "from Marxism in action." He was not enthusiastic about having the U.S. pour in economic aid to rescue the communist countries from their quagmire.
Richard Grenier, columnist for The Washington Times, asserted that historically the intellectuals and artists had been conservatives and that it was only in the post-Hitler era that they went left. He said they were searching for absolute values, something they could no longer find in Hanoi and Moscow.
David Horowitz, another former editor of Ramparts, and co-author with Peter Collier of The Destructive Generation, said: "The message has now gone out to all leftists: 'substitute "green" for "red,"' i.e., push environmentalism rather than socialism as the new priority. Horowitz argued that conservation "is a naturally conservative movement" which the right should reclaim; instead, he said, the issue has passed to the left "by default."
Dr. Petr Beckmann, editor of Access to Energy, said environmentalism had become the new vehicle for attacks on capitalism and western industrialized societies. He charged that the media are a witting accomplice to distorted presentation of environmental news. He was skeptical of the theory that chlorine from man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) is destroying the earth's protective shield of ozone. He said the media promoted this theory but did not report that a single volcanic eruption in Alaska had put more chlorine into the atmosphere than all the CFCs produced by industry.
Dr. Thomas H. Jukes, professor of biophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a life-member of the Sierra Club, criticized those environmentalists who view "nature as benign and science, industry and people as destructive." He ridiculed the panic over the disclosure that three micrograms of cyanide had been found in two Chilean grapes. "One would have to eat one's own weight in such grapes to consume a toxic dose of cyanide, so that one would burst before being poisoned," he said. The newest panic fantasy, Dr. Jukes said, concerns bovine somatotropin (BST) a genetically engineered hormone that greatly increases a cow's milk production. He pointed out that although the milk produced by cows treated with BST is identical with that from untreated cows, the story is being floated that it might cause breast cancer in women. "Pure fantasy," he said.
Dr. Alan Hecht, an international affairs officer for the EPA, who boasted of his attendance at Robert Redford's recent conference on global warming together with such celebrities as Carl Sagan, Tom Brokaw and Jane Pauley, asserted that the validity of the theory that CFCs were destroying the ozone had been proven by the fact that an international agreement had been reached to phase out the use of CFCs, and this had the approval of industry, the world press and the World Bank. Petr Beckmann strongly disagreed, arguing that a "cabal in the State Department and EPA" capitulated on many of the international treaties. Businessmen turn into a "bunch of wimps" when confronted by environmental activists, he said. Irvine cited as an example the fact that EPA and the apple industry had ignored the scientific evidence and discontinued the use of Alar because of the panic generated by two dishonest programs on "60 Minutes."
Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor-in-chief of The Washington Times, said in his luncheon address that as the USSR tries to switch from a failed system to one that works, things are going downhill faster. This was no reason for euphoria. Communism, de Botchgrave said, is in decline, but under Gorbachev the USSR's military superiority has grown. He believed there would be a reversion to "selective suppression" in the months ahead. He didn't think this country could do anything to rescue perestroika. He noted that Marxist utopianism is still strong on American campuses and said the idea that drugs are a white plot to wipe out blacks is rampant in the black community. In his view, drugs and drug-related crime are the biggest national security problem we face, "next to which the Soviet threat pales into insignificance." He concluded that history has dealt us a winning hand, but we must put our own house in order.
Sign and send the enclosed card or your own letter to Robert E. Allen, Chrm., AT&T, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022.
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AIM HAS HELD MANY OUTSTANDING CONFERENCES AND BANQUETS OVER THE YEARS always-winning rave reviews from those who have attended, but none has matched our 20th anniversary banquet and symposium. We warned all those present that it was going to be different from any anniversary banquet they had ever attended, and it was. We have tried in this report to convey some of the substance and spirit of the occasion that prompted many to tell me that it was outstanding and that we should hold another in the not too distant future.
FOR THAT I HAVE TO GIVE CREDIT TO THE PERSON WHO PROPOSED, PUSHED, PLANNED and organized the celebration and then managed to see that everything went smoothly, AIM's public relations director, Deborah Lambert. She did an outstanding job, assisted by others on the AIM staff and a few volunteers. Thanks to her efforts and the generosity of many of you who contributed more than we asked or sent contributions even though they could not attend, we even came out ahead financially. I send my thanks to all who made that possible.
SEVERAL SURPRISES WERE SPRUNG ON ME: THE MANY CONGRATULATORY LETTERS, JOHN Hasek's video about me, beginning with my service in the Marines in World War II and showing some of our AIM activities that have been captured on video tape, the fine portrait painted by Tom Curtis, a ballad history of AIM composed and sung at the banquet by Dolf Droge, AIM's popular 6'7" speaker and songster, and the special edition of The Washington Inquirer announcing that I had bought CBS. Well, one of the symposium topics was "The Dream They Hope to Gain."
OUR SURPRISE FOR OUR GUESTS WAS PRESENTING THEM ALL WITH CERTIFICATES OF membership in the Order of the Miserable Carping Retromingent vigilantes. Some wanted to know what "retromingent" meant. I didn't know either when Ben Bradlee sent me a letter calling me that in 1978. I couldn't find it in the dictionary, and we had to ask Ben's office for an explanation. It means backward urinating, which, as Bill Buckley pointed out in a column, is a characteristic of some of the nobler beasts, such as lions and tigers. Since Bradlee originated the phrase, we thought it only fair to present him with a certificate, and Joe Goulden slipped him an envelope containing one at a recent journalism conference. Ben peeked inside the envelope and said he guessed he had better examine the contents in the privacy of his office. The next day he sent the certificate back inscribed with this explanation: "Our conflict of interest standards prevent me from accepting this incredible honor. BCB"
YOU CAN HAVE ONE OF THESE UNIQUE CERTIFICATES MADE OUT TO YOU PERSONALLY for $15.00. They are printed on heavy felt-weave stock and bear the gold AIM corporate seal embellished with a pair of red ribbons and a reproduction of Ben Bradlee's retromingent vigilante letter to me. Yours will identify you as a member of the Order of Miserable Carping Retromingent vigilantes and confer upon you the gift of remembering like an elephan t, the privilege of roaring like a lion and the power to fight like a tiger. Displayed on a wall, this is an attention-getter. Use the coupon on the back to apply.
ANOTHER NICE THING FOR YOUR WALL IS THE 1990 CONSERVATIVE CALENDAR, WHICH illustrates each month with a photo of a prominent living conservative. I am honored to be one of those included in the new calendar. These make excellent Christmas gifts. You can order them from AIM for $9.95 postpaid. Order five or more, and we will give you a 10% discount. Use the coupon to order.
THERE IS ANOTHER FINE CONFERENCE BEING HELD IN WASHINGTON ON DECEMBER 1-2 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, which you may be interested in attending. It is the Conservative Leadership Conference (CLC) and it is co-sponsored by several organizations including AIM, the Leadership Institute and the Free Congress Foundation. It will combine discussion of important issues with how-to-do-it workshops for activists. For details write CLC, c/o Leadership Institute, 8001 Braddock Road, Springfield, VA 22151 or call (703) 321-8580.
WE HAD BOTH AUDIO AND VIDEO TAPES MADE OF THE BANQUET AND AUDIO TAPES ONLY of the symposium. The prices for the audiotapes are shown below. We are working on edited videotape showing the highlights of the banquet. We don't yet know what the price will be, but let us know if you are interested and we will contact you when it is completed.
OUR NEW VIDEO, THE SEDUCTIVE ILLUSION, WAS SCREENED BY ITS PRODUCER, JOHN Hasek, for our symposium and was very well received. In 60 minutes this shows the influence that the communist movement has had in the West, relating it to the destructive generation described in the excellent book of that title by David Horowitz and Peter Collier. Horowitz, Collier, Arnold Beichman, Murray Baron and many other authorities on this subject are featured in this important film, which capsulizes the history of the period following the Russian Revolution in a way our youth never hear about. This will also make an excellent gift for anyone belonging to the video generation. The price is $29.95 plus $3.00 shipping.