The ConWebWatch Primer
Who's behind the conservative news sites that ConWebWatch watches?
L. Brent Bozell III calls himself "one of the most outspoken and effective national leaders in the conservative movement today."
Bozell is founder and chairman of the board of the Media Research Center, "the largest media watchdog organization in America." The MRC was founded in 1987. His books include "And That's the Way It Isn't: A Reference Guide to Media Bias"; "Pattern of Deception: The Media's Role in the Clinton Presidency"; "How to Identify, Expose and Correct Liberal Media Bias"; "Out of Focus: Network Television and the American Economy"; and "Weapons of Mass Deception." Bozell is also founder and chairman of the Parents Television Council, "the only Hollywood-based organization dedicated to restoring responsibility to the entertainment industry." Bozell is a nephew of conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. and the son of L. Brent Bozell Jr., who co-wrote "The Conscience of a Conservative" with Barry Goldwater.
Bozell also serves as executive director of the Conservative Victory Committee, an "independent multi-candidate political action committee" whose goal is to help elect conservative candidates to office. He has also served as national finance chairman for the Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential campaign and finance director and president of the National Conservative Political Action Committee. He also writes a syndicated column, which is reproduced on the MRC web site.
Bozell is also a member of the Council for National Policy, a secretive group described as a congregation of "the Right's Washington operatives and politicians, its financiers, and its hard-core religious arm."
The Media Research Center, headquartered in Alexandria, Va., bills itself as "a 501(c)(3) nonprofit research and education foundation"; donations are tax-deductible. The MRC is a steady recipient of donations from conservative-oriented foundations. In 1996, its operating budget was just under $4 million; in 2000, the MRC reported income of $15 million. It employs approximately 60 people.
CNSNews.com -- originally Conservative News Service; the name was changed to Cybercast News Service in 2000 -- was launched by the Media Research Center on June 16, 1998, "as a news source for individuals, news organizations and broadcasters who put a higher premium on balance than spin and seek news that’s ignored or under-reported as a result of media bias by omission."
Its first executive editor was Scott Hogenson, who for the previous six years worked in the Republican National Committee's press office. Hogenson took a leave of absence during the 2004 presidential election to work again for the RNC; after briefly returning to CNS after the election, he left for good in 2005 to become deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. His replacement as executive editor, David Thibault, also had RNC ties; he was a senior producer for GOP-TV's "Rising Tide," a televised weekly news magazine broadcast by the RNC. Thibault died in July 2007. Other CNS staffers have similar conservative credentials.
Farah worked for a number of daily newspapers prior to the creation of WorldNetDaily. In 1990, Farah became editor of the now-defunct Sacramento (Calif.) Union, owned for several years by Richard Mellon Scaife, though he did not start work there after Scaife sold the paper to two Sacramento real estate developers, Daniel Benvenuti Jr. and David Kassis. They along with Farah were accused of taking the paper in an even more conservative direction than it had been under Scaife and skewing stories to reflect conservative ideas. Farah resigned as editor 15 months later; under his editorship, the paper's circulation declined nearly 30 percent, from 72,000 to 52,000. (The Sacramento Union closed in 1994; it was revived in 2004 as a web site and magazine.) Farah has also served as executive news editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner (now defunct) and served as editor-in-chief of a group of California dailies and weeklies.
Farah is the co-author, with former U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo, of "This Land is Our Land," and in 1994 he collaborated with Rush Limbaugh on his book "See, I Told You So." In 2003, he wrote the book "Taking America Back"; in 2007, he wrote "Stop the Presses! The Inside Story of the New Media Revolution."
WorldNetDaily started in May 1997 as a project of the Western Journalism Center. WorldNetDaily describes itself as "a fiercely independent newssite committed to hard-hitting investigative reporting of government waste, fraud and abuse." WorldNetDaily.com, Inc., headquartered in Cave Junction, Ore., but incorporated in Delaware, was spun off in 1999 as a for-profit subsidiary of the non-profit Western Journalism Center with the backing of $4.5 million from investors. Farah and the Western Journalism Center own a majority of WND, according to Farah; the rest of the stock is owned by about 75 private investors. As of late 2001, WorldNetDaily employed 25 people. Farah has said that about 80 percent of WND's revenue comes from the sale of books and videos through the site.
In 2002, WND created a book publishing division in partnership with Thomas Nelson Publishers, a prominent Christian publisher; authors include Katherine Harris and Michael Savage. That partnership ended in late 2004, and Nelson was replaced by Cumberland House Publishing. WND replaced partners again in early 2007, to conservative publisher World Ahead Publishing. WND acquired World Ahead in January 2008. The company claimed in 2001 that it expected to turn a profit in 2002. WND has approximately 20 employees.
WND also operates the subscription-only "intelligence resource" website G2 Bulletin.
Christopher Ruddy came to prominence through his reporting work on the death of Vince Foster and other alleged Clinton administration scandals for the New York Post and the Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In 1997, Mr. Ruddy authored the book "The Strange Death of Vincent Foster." Also in 1997, Ruddy and Pat Matrisciana, producer of the anti-Clinton videotape "The Clinton Chronicles," worked together on a videotape titled "The 60 Minutes Deception," a counterattack on the TV show and its correspondent Mike Wallace for debunking Ruddy's views on Foster's death. Accuracy in Media help to pay for the video's production costs. Matrisciana and Ruddy held a joint bank account that at one point contained roughly $3 million, according to Joe Conason and Gene Lyons in their book "The Hunting of the President." Not long after the "60 Minutes" video was released, Ruddy started a newsletter called Vortex, later followed by the creation of NewsMax. Vortex later grew into NewsMax magazine.
NewsMax Media, which Ruddy called "a mix between an online content site and a direct marketer," which has approximately 50 employees, raised $15 million from unnamed private investors in 2003; that same year, it expected to reach $8 million in sales revenue and was part of a group that purchased the West Palm Beach building where its headquarters are located for $8.55 million. in 2002, NewsMax forged a book-publishing joint venture agreement with the Prima Forum (now Crown Forum) imprint of Random House.
Ruddy, according to his NewsMax biography, is a media fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from St. John's University in New York and a master's degree in public policy from the London School of Economics.
Reed Irvine founded Accuracy in Media in 1969; Irvine said in his 1984 book "Media Mischief and Misdeeds" that it was prompted by "disgust with the media -- particularly television for pouring gasoline on the flamse of riots in our cities and turmoil on our campuses." It was among the first groups to focus on attacking the "liberal media." In 1975, AIM began purchasing stock in major media companies, which allowed Irvine to attend their annual meetings and make AIM's views known. In 1985, Irvine founded Accuracy in Academia to apply the AIM approach to education.
Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid
Reed Irvine suffered a stroke in 2003 and died in November 2004. His son, Don Irvine, succeeded him as AIM chairman.
Last update: 4/26/2008