Accuracy In Media (AIM) is an American non-profit conservativenews media watchdog founded in 1969 by economist Reed Irvine. AIM supported the Vietnam War and blamed media bias for U.S. loss in the war. During the Reagan administration, AIM criticized reporting about the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador. During the Clinton presidency, AIM pushed Vince Foster conspiracy theories. During the Bush administration, AIM criticized the media for bias against the Iraq War, defended the Bush administration's use of torture, and campaigned to stop the United States from signing UNCLOS. It described 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama as "the most radical candidate ever to stand at the precipice of acquiring his party's presidential nomination. It is apparent that he is a member of an international socialist movement."
AIM, which opposes the scientific consensus on climate change, has criticized media reporting on climate change. The organization gives out the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award. Past recipients include Marc Morano (who runs the climate change denial website ClimateDepot, Tucker Carlson, and Jim Hoft (who runs the far-right conspiracy website Gateway Pundit).
At its inception, Accuracy In Media was run primarily by Reed Irvine and then-executive secretary Abraham Kalish. The two sent letters to the editors of many newspapers and magazines they identified as skewed, calling out slanted news stories. If the newspaper rejected the letter, AIM bought space and printed the letter in that newspaper. Beginning in 1975, Accuracy In Media began purchasing stock in major media companies, allowing Irvine to attend annual shareholder meetings. He used these opportunities to express the AIM's concerns to the various companies' owners. Reed's son, Don, chairs the organization. Don Irvine referred to his father as a "die-hard anti-communist." In 1990, Irvine was noted by Walter Goodman of The New York Times for "...his efforts to put pressure on networks and advertisers to crack down on reporters to whom he takes exception do not mark him as an enthusiast of unfettered expression." Following Irvine's death in 2004, an editorial in the Columbia Journalism Review said that "[Irvine] was stone blind to his own prejudices, and he could be scurrilous and unfair in his attacks, but he knew something about our major media..." and credited Irvine in part for the rise of the popular conservative view that the American media is imbued with a liberal bias.
In 2009, AIM received $500,000 in contributions.
A minimum of eight separate oil companies is known to have been contributors in the early 80s. Only three donors are given by name: the Allied Educational Foundation (founded and chaired by George Barasch), Shelby Cullom Davis, and billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. Scaife gave $2.2 million to Accuracy in Media between 1977 and 1998. AIM has been funded by Exxon.
AIM was critical of media reports about the harmful effects of Agent Orange, a military herbicide with adverse health effects for humans, in the Vietnam War. AIM blamed the U.S. media for the loss in the Vietnam War. AIM criticized the 1983 PBS documentary series Vietnam: A Television History as being pro-communist.
In 1982, The New York Times reporter Raymond Bonner broke the story of the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador. The report was strongly criticized by AIM and the Reagan administration, and Bonner was pressured into business reporting, later deciding to resign. Although the report was embarrassing to the Reagan administration, which was heavily aiding the right-wing junta at the time, skeletons unearthed a decade later confirmed the original story's veracity. AIM was critical of journalist Helen Marmor, who in 1983 produced a documentary for NBC concerning the Russian Orthodox Church. AIM contended that "it ignored the repressive religious policies of the Soviet state."
AIM received a substantial amount of funding from Richard Mellon Scaife who paid Christopher W. Ruddy to investigate allegations that President Bill Clinton was connected to the suicide of Vince Foster. AIM contended that "Foster was murdered", which is contrary to three independent reports including one by Kenneth Starr. AIM faulted the media for not picking up on the conspiracy, and applied itself for FOIA disclosure of Foster's death-scene photographs. Its suit to compel disclosure was denied by the District Court of Columbia in a summary judgment, unanimously affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
AIM credited much of its reporting on the Foster case to Ruddy. Yet, his work was called a "hoax" and "discredited" by conservatives such as Ann Coulter, it was also disputed by the American Spectator, which caused Scaife to end his funding of the Arkansas Project with the publisher. As CNN explained on February 28, 1997, "The [Starr] report refutes claims by conservative political organizations that Foster was the victim of a murder plot and coverup", but "despite those findings, right-wing political groups have continued to allege that there was more to the death and that the president and First Lady tried to cover it up."
AIM has been critical of the United Nations and its coverage by the media. In February 2005, AIM alleged that United Nations correspondents, including Ian Williams, a correspondent for The Nation had accepted money from the UN while covering it for their publications. AIM also asserted that the United Nations Correspondents Association may have violated immigration laws by employing the wife of Williams. Williams and The Nation denied wrongdoing. The charges were reiterated by FrontPage Magazine and the allegation concerning Williams receiving UN cash was picked up by Brit Hume and the Fox News Channel.
AIM has campaigned against the United States signing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). AIM writes, "UNCLOS is a foot in the door for a wide-ranging international agenda... America's survival as a sovereign nation hangs in the balance." AIM argued that signing up to UNCLOS could lead to the prohibition of spanking children.
AIM rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. In 2008, AIM wrote, "the theory of man-made global warming is designed to increase government control over our economy and our lives through higher taxes and energy rationing."
In November 2005, AIM columnist Cliff Kincaid criticized Fox News for broadcasting a program The Heat is On, which reported that global warming represents a serious problem (the program was broadcast with a disclaimer). Kincaid argued the piece was one-sided and stated that this "scandal" amounted to a "hostile takeover of Fox News." In 2006, Kincaid criticized Fox for "tilting to the left" on the issue of climate change. AIM also said Fox News was moving left
AIM criticized the media for not covering a 1995 study on climate change, which it argued cast doubt on climate change. One of the authors of the study responded to AIM, "The paper... focused on a discrepancy between observations and theoretical climate model predictions--the sort of thing that climate change deniers love to take out of context and hype. The conservative organization Accuracy in Media took note of the study, citing lack of media coverage of it as some sort of evidence of media bias in coverage of climate change--something that I, to this day, find puzzling as the paper actually dealt with a relatively obscure technical detail of climate models and hardly challenged the mainstream view that human activity was leading to the warming of the globe."
In 2008, AIM describe Barack Obama, who was at the time a candidate in the 2008 presidential election, as "the most radical candidate ever to stand at the precipice of acquiring his party's presidential nomination. It is apparent that he is a member of an international socialist movement." AIM titled one of its reports, "Is Barack Obama a Marxist Mole?" In the lead-up to the 2008 election, AIM wrote, "there is a pattern of people who hate America showing up at critical junctures in Obama's life and career to influence and advise him."
In 2008, AIM wrote "Waterboarding Is Not Torture" in a sub-heading, said that Guantanamo Bay detainees "are enjoying hotel living conditions" and that torture is what "left-wingers associate with anything that makes an accused terrorist uncomfortable".
In 2010, AIM gave the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award to political activist Marc Morano, who is most prominent for running the website ClimateDepot, which rejects the scientific consensus on climate change.
In 2011, AIM gave the award to Tucker Carlson.