Topic: Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media has been doing a major reboot of itself over the past year. Conspiracy-happy right-wing ranter Cliff Kincaid disappeared for reasons neither he nor AIM have have yet to explain publicly, and after months of relying on freelancers and anonymous writers of dubious accuracy and Kincaid-esque conspiracy-mongering, it has settled on a new staff led by Carrie Sheffield, who has the title of "national editor." Sheffield's AIM bio leads with her TV and media hits, which probably tells us something about the direction Don Irvine is looking to take AIM -- more media-savvy, less nutball.
In practice, though, AIM is showing itself to be just another pro-Trump website. For instance, a June 22 piece by Sheffield, which takes the Trump White House line that it's the media's fault for noticing Melania Trump's jacket:
Even as mainstream media reporters portray the Trump administration as lacking substance and a substantive policy focus, the New York Times chose to give Page A1 placement of a speculative story by Vanessa Friedman, its fashion director and chief fashion critic, criticizing the jacket that first lady Melania Trump wore before and after a tour of a children’s shelter in Texas.
Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman said that “There was no hidden message,” yet Friedman wrote that the First Lady’s fashion choice “may have backfired,” an analysis displaying the most common response among the mainstream media: to project sinister motives despite no evidence.
It's telling that Sheffield never outright states the message that was emblazoned across the back of Melania's jacket -- "I don't really care, do U?" -- that is, in fact, the hard-to-miss "evidence" upon which things were projected; she only offers a partial quote in the final paragraph buried in a quote from the article she's attacking.
Sheffield also makes the partisan mistake of treating whatever Melania's office says as the final word on the subject, as if we should ascribe only pure motives to, and accurate statements from, an office whose function is to protect the first lady. We suspect AIM never took anything that came out of the Obama White House as the final word on anything.
Sheffield's approach is little different from what AIM's better-funded (and even more pro-Trump) rival, the Media Research Center, did.
In trading Kincaid's craziness for a somewhat more professional, highly Trump-protective approach from Sheffield and Brian McNicoll, AIM turns down the heat but doesn't add light. It has gone from lacking credibility to being merely boring, which may not be an impovement.