Sunday, November 28, 2004

From pioneer to Clinton-induced loonball 

Conservatives have been mourning the death of Reed Irvine, who founded the media watchdog group Accuracy in Media. Many call Irvine a pioneer for being one of the first right-wingers to criticize the "liberal media."

Asked about Irvine, Ted Koppel said that he was a harsh critic, but a good guy, and that it's good to have media watchdogs out there. Sure, I agree that watchdogs are necessary. But perhaps my only exposure to Irvine came too late in his career, after Bill Clinton had sent him completely over the edge (see below).

At work I used to have no choice but to listen to "Media Monitor," AIM's daily commentary. This stuff was out there; sometimes it was downright anti-American. Reed & Cliff Kincaid would grab hold of a story -- usually a later-disproven Clinton scandal -- and never let go even in the face of conclusive contrary evidence.

Oh, sure, they hopped on every common Clinton "-gate." But the claim I remember most clearly was their insistence (and they weren't the only tin-foil-hat-wearers to say this) that TWA Flight 800 didn't suffer mechanical failure, but was rather shot down by the United States Navy. They hardly ever failed to mention Clinton in these reports -- reminding us that Clinton was commander in chief of the navy -- as if he alone could cover something like that up. I'm telling you, this stuff wasn't just once in a while. It was all the time.

Reed Irvine may have started as a legitimate media critic, and he may even have been a pioneer. But his mind was warped -- like so many others' -- by Bill Clinton. His hatred ran so deep that he tried to say that our country's navy shot down a commercial flight, and that the media covered it up! As if they'd cover up a story like that to protect a President whose ridiculous impeachment was their favorite story of the century.

These types of conspiracy theories weren't media commentary. They were the fanatical rantings of a partisan loonball. While Irvine may be a hero to far-right conservatives, he's the kind of non-credible guy who makes sensible people more cynical about the constant "spin cycle." And -- more importantly -- he makes liberals dig in their heels and be less willing to consider even reasonable claims of media bias.

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