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Accuracy in Spin

The only accuracy that Accuracy in Media seems to care about these days is accurately repeating conservative talking points.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 8/9/2005
Updated 8/10/2005

Accuracy in Media has never been all that interested in accuracy per se; like Brent Bozell's Media Research Center, it is an advocacy group that promotes a conservative message and criticizes the media for not sufficiently advancing it.

But lately, it appears that the only accuracy AIM cares about is accurately regurgitating conservative talking points.

Take the case of Joseph Wilson, the former ambassador whose wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA operative in apparent retaliation for Wilson's criticism of the Iraq war. AIM's Cliff Kincaid has rushed to the defense of White House senior adviser Karl Rove, columnist Robert Novak, and any other conservative accused of revealing her identity.

AIM's Cliff Kincaid, in a July 12 column, declared that "Rove deserves a medal for trying to warn the media about the ulterior motives of Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, who would later become a Kerry campaign adviser." This echoes a fellow conservative, Fox News Channel's John Gibson, who made the same exact claim the very same day.

Kincaid gets a couple things wrong in the process. He suggests that because "Rove did not identify her by name," he would not be in danger of violating a law that forbids the deliberate public disclosure of a covert CIA operative. Not true; Rove did reveal to a reporter, Time magazine's Matthew Cooper, that "Wilson's wife" had a hand in Wilson's trip to Niger and worked for the CIA, which certainly identifies her as much as using her name. Even Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has stated that this is a distinction without a difference regarding the investigation of Rove. Kincaid repeated the "didn't identify her by name" defense in an Aug. 1 column.

Kincaid also suggests that because Rove told Cooper that Plame "apparently" worked for the CIA, "this shows that Rove wasn't even aware of her actual status at the agency." But given a State Department memo that marked as "secret" Plame's identity and her role in Wilson's trip was floating among White House staff at the time Rove talked to Wilson, it's entirely possible that Rove was aware of Plame's status.

In an AIM press release based on his column, Kincaid also claimed that "Rove was telling the truth" when he told Cooper that Plame "authorized" Wilson's trip to Niger. But that remains unproven, if not actually false. The Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the use of intelligence in the build-up to the Iraq war did not reach a conclusion about Plame's role in Wilson's trip. Additionally, there is some evidence that CIA officials asked Plame if Wilson was available for the trip.

An Aug. 2 column by Kincaid perpetuates this, claiming that "Joseph Wilson lied about his wife's role in sending him on that mission to investigate the Iraq-uranium link." His only evidence for this is that "the Senate Intelligence Committee uncovered evidence that Plame had a role in her husband's mission," but he failed to disclose that the committee reached no official conclusion about Plame's role.

All of these items are covered in Republican-issued talking points.

AIM has also decided to rather belatedly follow NewsMax and come to the defense of Edward Klein. author of the factually dubious "The Truth About Hillary." An Aug. 4 column by Kincaid, a reworking of a July 27 "AIM Report," defends Klein against criticism of the more extreme claims in the book, such as his fixation on trying to link Hillary with lesbianism. Klein "has no evidence of lesbian sex, only evidence of Hillary embracing a lesbian political philosophy that doesn't necessarily imply adoption of the lifestyle," Kincaid writes, adding, "This is a complicated topic that can only be explained by reading the book." Kincaid goes further in the "AIM Report," claiming that "The shocking truth, according to Klein, is that Hillary became a believer in the lesbian political philosophy but that this doesn't necessarily imply actually being a lesbian physically."

So, Hillary isn't a lesbian, but she thinks and acts like one. Got it?

Kincaid also bought into Klein's claimed grand conspiracy against his book, unquestioningly promoting Klein's claim that several TV appearances were "cancelled under the hammer of the Clinton war machine." Kincaid lumps MSNBC's conservative Joe Scarborough into those among the conspiracy, but he neglected to note Scarborough's reasons for canceling Klein, which hardly sound conspiratorial: "the stories were inflammatory, the sources were weak, and the book's relevance was less than zero."

Kincaid throws conservative-friendly Fox News Channel in the conspiracy in a Aug. 3 column. Fox owner Rupert Murdoch is a participant in an "global initiative" headed by Bill Clinton, and the former president has appeared on Fox News to promote it. Kincaid suggests that this relationship is the reason Murdoch "has done Senator Hillary Clinton a big favor by canceling some interviews" with Klein. Kincaid also tries to give NewsMax's John LeBoutillier some legitimacy by calling him "a nationally recognized political commentator"; Kincaid doesn't mention that LeBoutillier is also nationally recognized as a Hillary-hater, heading up such enterprises as the Counter Clinton Library and the Stop Hillary PAC, and will spew anything as long as it makes a Clinton look bad.

Sometimes, however, AIM dispenses with the talking points altogether and goes on its own merry way, which explains Kincaid's Aug. 1 column bashing MSNBC, home of conservatives such as Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson, for not being conservative enough. The reason for the low ratings of Carlson's new show, "The Situation," Kincaid declares, is that it's "so fast-paced and diluted by liberals that it does not allow for Carlson or anybody else to present a consistent conservative point of view."

The problem with "The Situation," Kincaid writes, is not with its host but with panelist Rachel Maddow, who is apparently way too lesbian for Kincaid, who calls her "a lesbian with hair so short that she looks like a man." Kincaid goes on to blame Media Matters (full disclosure: my employer) for Maddow's presence on the show (even though the show has a format that Media Matters argued against) and insists that "the show's poor ratings should be seen as a verdict on the appeal of Maddow rather than Carlson."

(Update: Kincaid reiterates the point in an Aug. 9 column, again blaming Carlson's poor ratings on "lesbian Air America radio host Rachel Maddow." Additionally, he blames James Carville, "a professional apologist for the Democratic Party," for Robert Novak's recent on-air meltdown. Does Kincaid ever hold conservatives responsible for what they do?)

That's ultimately what Accuracy in Media is about. Conservatism trumps accuracy any day.

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