Gray Lady Downed

, James F. Davis, Leave a comment

The New York Times obituary of our founder, Reed Irvine [pictured], contained so many inaccuracies that Accuracy in Academia’s president, James F. Davis, felt compelled to respond. Because the New York Times does not have a stellar track record of running responses that are critical of the Old Gray Lady, we thought that we would give you, the reader, a chance to read Mr. Davis’ corrections here.—ed.

There were several inaccuracies in the New York Times obituary of Reed Irvine, the founder of Accuracy in Media (AIM), i.e., the first media “watchdog group dedicated to exposing, challenging, and at times bullying those accused of slanting news coverage from a liberal perspective.”

1) How could an organization (AIM) with less than 20 full-time employees and a relatively miniscule budget “bully” multibillion dollar conglomerates like the New York Times, USA Today, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN, Newsweek, Time and US News and World Report? We only asked these organizations to inform their viewers or readers of inaccuracies in their reporting when we provided evidence demonstrating the falsehoods. You were gracious enough in Mr. Irvine’s obituary to mention several of the books AIM published documenting these media-reported inaccuracies. For example, AIM has been reporting on Dan Rather’s biased, inaccurate reporting for almost 20 years.

2) Concerning Mr. Irvine starting Accuracy in Academia (AIA) in 1985, your obituary stated that AIA “was presented as an effort to challenge the teachings of college university professors in the same way as AIM had done with the media. In this case, an indignant response was widespread, with a number of prominent conservatives joining liberals in defense of academic freedom.” This is inaccurate.

AIA was and is fighting FOR academic freedom and for allowing a diversity of viewpoints in academia. You inferred the opposite. It has been well-documented that the overwhelming majority of professors, and in particular political science professors, push a leftist liberal/socialist viewpoint. For example, the last time I saw a study of political party affiliations, my school, Cornell University, had exactly one conservative political science professor on its faculty. I even called him to find out how he sneaked in under the liberal radar.

You may also remember, as reported in the New York Post, US News & World Report, and other places, that AIA paid for the use of facilities to give a one-day conference at Columbia University in the fall of 1998, only to have the University change the rules at the last moment to deny students access to our program on campus. Ironically, the program theme was: Is there room for conservative ideas in academia? Columbia clearly answered the question in the negative.

As a result of Reed Irvine starting AIA in 1985, today there are hundreds of organizations doing similar work. Your writer appears to have missed that and our websites, publications and conferences given at various universities that were broadcast on C-SPAN.

3) Although I was not affiliated with AIA in 1985, our staff, including those who were with us then, has no knowledge of an “indignant response (that) was widespread.” We know of only one prominent conservative, then- US Secretary of Education, William Bennett, who, when given, perhaps, the liberal spin of what our organization was about, said he thought it was a “bad idea.” Who were the others?

Our Nexus Lexis search showed that the biggest media story about AIA back then was that Izvestiya, the state run communist newspaper of the then-still existent Soviet Union, wrote a searing criticism of our organization, as you did in your obituary of Reed Irvine, the true founder of modern media watchdog groups. The Internet has helped make his vision and work at AIM an effective reality, much to the horror of anti-free speech journalists everywhere.

Mr. Davis is president of Accuracy in Academia.