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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Accuracy In Media

Accuracy In Media

Acronym/Code: AIM

Updated: 8/89

Categories: Political, Educational

Background: Reed Irvine founded AIM in 1969. At the time of AIM's founding, Irvine was an economist with the United States Federal Reserve Board. (2)

In the early days, AIM was basically the project of Irvine and then-executive secretary Abraham Kalish. Kalish and Irvine would send letters to the editors of many newspapers trying to make a name for themselves as well as championing their "cause." If a letter was rejected, AIM would buy space in that paper and print the letter. Beginning in 1975 AIM began purchasing stock in major news groups. Their purchases allowed Irvine to attend the news agencies' annual meetings and make AIM's views known. (2)

AIM describes its purpose as the pursuit of "Fairness, Balance and Accuracy in News Reporting."(7) Director of communications, Bernard Yoh, says "People erroneously call us conservative and right-wing. It really makes me sad because we try very hard to do everything evenhandedly..."(2)

A survey of sources leaves little evidence of that evenhandedness. AIM has intimate ties with many conservative causes. As an example, AIM heads the list of groups attending the 1986 Conservative Political Action Conference. (4) The group also has a predisposition to attack journalists that write about and seem sympathetic to leftist and even centrist movements. (2) AIM has a record of supporting Nicaraguan contra leaders such as Jose Francisco Cardenal. AIM also supports the Committee for a Free Afghanistan, a U.S. group that has backed the Afghan rebels beginning in 1981. (2)

AIM does not make use of "active journalists." Says Irvine, "... the type of organization I had in mind would be representative of and run by consumers of the journalistic product, not by the producers."(2)

AIM often uses pressure tactics to try to change policies, but these tactics seem to fail more often than not, and AIM's influence seems to be on the decrease. At one time they had 40,000 subscribers to their newsletter; as of 1986 they had only 30,000. (2)

Funding: Reed Irvine claims that 75 percent of AIM's funding comes from contributers donating $100 or less. He is reluctant to comment on where the rest of the money comes from. Says Irvine,"We do not comment on AIM contributors, except for those who have given us permission to publicize their gifts." Irvine names only three, the Allied Educational Foundation, Shelby Cullom Davis, and Richard Mellon Scaife. Other groups that have supported AIM include Mobil Oil, Union Carbide, and various power companies. (2) In 1985 AIM recieved a $20,000 grant from the Adolph Coors Foundation and $7,000 from the Texaco Philanthropic Foundation Inc. In 1986 they recieved $5,000 from Texaco. (16) As of 1986 AIM'sbudget was $1.5 million a year. (2) AIM is nonprofit and contributions to it are tax-deductible. (7)

Activities: AIM publishes a bimonthly newsletter called the AIM Report. Reed Irvine is the editor of this newsletter. AIM Report provides Irvine a forum from which he can disseminate his political ideas. In these newsletters Irvine often encourages subscribers to write to people or organizations which he believes AIM can force to change policies. (8)

Reed Irvine has a weekly column that is published in newspapers across the nation. AIM has a radio commentary show called Media Monitor which airs five days a week. It also sponsors speakers as well as holding conferences. (7)

Irvine often attends annual shareholder meetings and makes his presence known. He has been described as very combative and even rude during those encounters. He now has an annual private meeting with the publisher of the New York Times. According to critics, Irvine's meetings with publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger seem to be more of a way to spare other shareholders from Irvine's outbursts than a sign that he is an important individual whose views are to be heeded. Irvines charges are not dismissed out of hand; they are researched. However, relates New York Times vice-chair Sydney Gruson, "I never find any merit in their [AIM's] allegations."(2)

AIM's attacks on the media seem to have little to do with actual misrepresentation or inaccuracies in media accounts. Instead, Irvine and AIM are quick to attack groups that don't fit in the group's ideological niche. Any group or individual, from left to centrist, are suspect in AIM's eyes. Publisher of the Washington Post, Donald Graham, notes that Irvine tends to "throw around accusations about people being communists."(2)

AIM's attacks on the person, instead of the person's work, is obvious in several examples. At CBS's meetings Irvine often attacks Walter Cronkite as a Soviet dupe. At a 1986 meeting,Irvine requested that Cronkite be removed from the CBS board of directors for allegedly supporting unilateral disarmament. (2) Another example of an attack on issue orientation rather than journalistic merit is AIM's assualt against Helen Marmor. In 1983, Marmor produced a documentary for NBC concerning the Russian Orthodox Church. AIM contended that "it ignored the repressive religious policies of the Soviet state." Marmor related that Irvine called her for an interview and "... kept going back again and again to questions implying I was hoodwinked or pro-Soviet in my attitudes..."(2)

Government Connections: Several of AIM's board members have intelligence backgrounds. During WWII Reed Irvine worked in Marine Intelligence; John McLean was employed by the CIA; and Abraham Kalish taught communications at the Defense Intelligence School. Bernard Yoh also has a history of intelligence and military work. He is/was a professor of psychological warfare at the Air Force University in Montgomery, Alabama. He was a hitman for the Shanghai police during the Sino-Japanese war and organized the South Vietnamese counterinsurgency forces during the Vietnam War. In the 1964 Brazilian coup, Yoh advised the Brazilian generals. (2,6)

Elbridge Dubrow was a former ambassador to Vietnam. David Lichtenstein was a senior attorney with the Federal Communications Commission. (2,7)

Adm. Thomas H. Moorer was the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under president Richard Nixon. In that position he had Naval Intelligence agents tap Henry Kissinger's phone and remove documents from Nixon's desk. (20) He was also on the national advisory board of the now-defunct Western Goals Foundation, a private domestic intelligence agency founded by former Congressman Larry MacDonald in 1979. (20) Moorer is the vice president of the American Security Council. (22)

Clare Booth Luce was a former ambassador to Switzerland and former member of Congress. (2,7) She was also a member of Ronald Reagan's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. (23)

Private Connections: The Council for the Defense of Freedom (CDF) has intimate ties with AIM. They share several board members. Reed Irvine, Murray Baron, Wilson C. Lucom, and Bernard Yoh, for instance, are all on the Board of Directors of CDF. Donald Irvine (Reed Irvine's son) is the treasurer for CDF. Marx Lewis, chair of CDF, is on the National Advisory Board of AIM. CDF operates out of AIM's offices as well. (1,2,7) The CDF publishes a right-wing weekly called The Washington Inquirer. Irvine's column appears in it weekly.

Accuracy In Academia (AIA) was created by AIM. Irvine is the head of AIA, but it is run by Les Csorba. AIA is also a right-wing group that "monitors" what teachers teach on college campuses. It is relatively weak and primarily attacks teachers that do not teach AIA's view of reality. Midge Decter has called AIA "wrong headed and harmful." In 1984, on a trip to El Salvador, Csorba praised Roberto D'Aubuisson--said to have death squad links--and posed with government soldiers. (5,9)

AIM has also supported the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). In 1984, syndicated columnist Jack Anderson wrote articles that exposed the death squad affiliations of the Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation (CAL), a member of WACL. In response, the chairman of WACL, retired U.S. Major General John K. Singlaub, enlisted the help of Reed Irvine. In a letter dated January 30, 1984, to Irvine, Singlaub said that: "Any help that you can give us in obtaining a retraction from Jack Anderson for that part of his articles which link WACL with the death squad activity (in El Salvador) will be greatly appreciated. If a retraction is not possible, I would appreciate your assistance in neutralizing the negative impact of these articles." No retraction was made according to the author of this source. (11)

AIM has been a prominent supporter of the Chilean Lobby in the past. The Chilean Lobby supported the military government under Augusto Pinochet that came into power through a coup in 1973. (6)

Bernard Yoh contributes regularly to the Unification Church publication Rising Tide and is a strong supporter of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the South Korean government. (11)

Murray Baron is a member of the American Chilean Council and was a member of the Committee of One Million Against the Admission of Red China to the U. N. He was also the past president of Peace With Freedom Foundation, a former CIA front involved in African labor affairs. (6)

Elbridge Dubrow is/was co-chair of the American Security Council's National Strategy Committee. (6)

Eugene Lyons is the retired editor of Reader's Digest. He is or was also a member of American Friends of Katangan Freedom Fighters, American Chilean Council, Committee of One Million, Young Americans for Freedom, and the American Jewish League Against Communism.

Ellen Garwood, heir to the Clayton Anderson fortune, donated much of the amount needed to buy a helicopter for the Nicaraguan contras. (12) She has also donated a large amount of money to their cause.

Midge Decter is exec dir of Committee for the Free World.

This group holds conferences and exchanges for "anticommunist intellectuals around the world." Former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams is her son-in-law and Norman Podhoretz, editor of the right-wing journal Commentary is her husband. (12,13) Decter was also on the Board of Directors of the now defunct Nicaraguan Freedom Fund. (14) Decter is a Heritage Foundation trustee, an Ethics and Public Policy Center trustee, a Hudson Institute fellow, and an advisory board member of The National Interest. (19)

Clare Booth Luce is a Dame of the Knights of Malta. (15) She was a director of the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund, a fundraising group set up in 1985 by the Washington Times, a paper owned by Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, to provide funds to the contras. (12,15,17,18) Luce was on the Board of the Washington Times. (17) She also served with the Coalition for Peace Through Strength (CPTS) and the Committee on the Present Danger. (21,23)

William Simon is on the advisory committee of AmeriCares and was on the national council of the Friends of the Democratic Center in Central America (PRODEMCA). Simon was also the chair of the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund and is a member of the Knights of Malta. (12,15,18)

Dr. Edward Teller was a member of the Committee on the Present Danger as of 1983. The Committee is an anticommunist organization which has advocated strict containment policies towards the Soviet Union. (21) Teller also created the HBomb. (20) Teller was also on the advisory board of the Western Goals Foundation and served with the CPTS. (20).

Eugene Wigner and General Lewis Walt were both formerly on the advisory board of the Western Goals Foundation. (20) Wigner, a physicist, recieved a $200,000 "Founders Award" from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Wigner also served with the American Security Council's Coalition for Peace Through Strength and on the board of trustees of Freedom House. (21)

Shelby Cullom Davis is a trustee of the Heritage Foundation. (19)

Misc: AIM claims to be "Your Watchdog of News Media."(7) Among the shows they monitor, however, are entertainment programs which have a political twist. For instance, they often attack television shows such as Miami Vice and television movies such as The Day After (a show on the possible outcomes of nuclear war in the U.S. ). (2,10)

Comments:U.S. Address: 1275 K Street N. W. , Suite 1150, Washington, DC 20005. (202) 371-6710.

Principals: Officers: Reed Irvine, chair; Murray Baron, pres; Wilson C. Lucom, vice-pres; Donald Irvine, exec sect; Jon Basil Utley, tres; Milton Mitchell, gen counsel; John R. Van Evera, John K. McLean, Bernard Yoh, communications dir;. Natl Advisory Board includes: Hon. Karl R. Bendetsen, Hon. Shelby Cullom Davis (former ambassador), Hon. Elbridge Dubrow (former ambassador), Ellen Garwood, Marx Lewis, Hon. Clare Boothe Luce, Eugene Lyons (Reader's Digest), Adm. Thomas H. Moorer (ret, former chair, Joint Chiefs of Staff), Hon. William E. Simon, Dr. Edward Teller, Dr. Eugene Wigner, Frank Fusco, David Lichtenstein, David Martin, Charles A. Moser, Abraham Kalish, Dr. Frederick Seitz, Adm. William C. Mott, Gen. Lewis W. Walt, J. L. Robertson. (2,3,7), Midge Decter. (5)

Sources:1. Letter from Ian MacKenzie, CDF, December 7, 1988.

2. Michael Massing, "The Rise and Decline of Accuracy in Media," The Nation, September 13, 1986.

3. Washington 1988, Washington DC, Columbia Books, 1988

4. Group Research Report, Vol 25, no 3, March 1986

5. Jon Wiener, "Reed Irvine Rides The Paper Tiger," The Nation, April 5, 1986.

6. Victoria Bergesen, NACLA Report, Sept/Oct 1977.

7. AIM Brochure

8. AIM Report, February 1986.

9. Saul Landau, "Dress Rehearsal For a Red Scare," The Nation, April 5, 1986.

10. AIM Report, November 1986.

11. Scott Anderson & Jon Lee Anderson, Inside The League, New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1986.

12. The Resource Center, The New Right Humanitarians, 1986.

13. Midge Decter, "Governor Dukakis Is Toying With Defense, and America," The New York Times, October 3, 1988.

14. Masthead of Nicaraguan Freedom Fund, from 1985 income tax return form 990.

15. Martin A. Lee, "Who are the Knights of Malta?" Natl Catholic Reporter, October 11, 1983.

16. Foundation Grants Index, 16th & 17th editions.

17. Francoise Hervet, "Knights of Darkness: The Soveriegn Military Order of Malta," Covert Action Information Bulletin, Winter, 1986.

18. Summary of La Prensa Grant Proposal, Natl Endowment for Democracy, no date.

19. Gregg Easterbrook, "Ideas Move Nations," Atlantic Monthly, January 1986.

20. Elton Manzione, "The Private Spy Agency," The National Reporter, Summer 1985.

21. Jerry W. Sanders, Peddlers of Crisis: The Committee on the Present Danger and the Politics of Containment, (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1983).

22. Peace Through Strength, ASC report, undated, received December 15, 1988.

23. Thomas Bodenheimer and Robert Gould, ROLLBACK! Right-Wing Power in U.S. Foreign Policy, (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1989).

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