Reed Irvine (September 29, 1922 – November 16, 2004) was an economist who founded the media watchdog organization Accuracy in Media, and remained its head for 35 years. Irvine was motivated by his early perception that established news media from the dominant television news media to large city newspaper reporting was colored and biased in favor of a socialist perspective. He became concerned that this dominant perspective was shaping the way the dominant media reported foreign news and events.
Notable commentaries focused on the El Salvador Civil War, the Persian Gulf War, and the Clinton administration.
Reed John Irvine was born in Salt Lake City on Sept. 29, 1922, the son of William J. and Edna May Irvine. He graduated from the University of Utah in 1942, and served as a Japanese interpreter-translator with a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. After the war he received a Fulbright scholarship to Oxford University, where he earned a B. Lit. in economics.
On the El Salvador Civil War, he criticized reporter Raymond Bonner with particular regard to his reporting in the New York Times of the El Mozote massacre. He devoted an entire edition of the AIM Report to Bonner, reporting that "Mr. Bonner had been worth a division to the communists in Central America." In 1992, as part of the peace settlement established by the Chapultepec Peace Accords, the United Nations-sanctioned Commission on the Truth for El Salvador investigating human rights abuses committed during the war supervised the exhumations of the El Mozote remains by an Argentinian team of forensic specialists. The Truth Commission stated in its final report: "There is full proof that on 11 December 1981, in the village of El Mozote, units of the Atlacatl Battalion deliberately and systematically killed a group of more than 200 men, women and children, constituting the entire civilian population that they had found there the previous day and had since been holding prisoner."
During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, "he accused CNN and its reporter Peter Arnett of airing 'Saddam Hussein's version of the truth. There's no way his reporting is helping America win this war.'" Arnett's reports on civilian damage caused by the bombing were not received well by the coalition war administration, who by their constant use of terms like "smart bombs" and "surgical precision" had tried to project an image that civilian casualties would be at a minimum.
AIM spent much of its time pursuing conspiracy theories. "Conspiracy is a word that has been given a very bad connotation – it's become synonymous with "kooky,"' he told a Post reporter. "But really it has a very good connotation." In other words, he elaborated, some conspiracy theories are valid. But not Hillary Clinton's notion of a vast right-wing conspiracy. 'She's kooky,' he said.
After Irvine's death, it was revealed that his taped telephone conversation was the source of statements made by Miguel Rodriguez, the former lead investigator for Kenneth Starr, to the effect that the investigation of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster's death was a cover-up.
- George Washington medal, Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, 1980
- In 1987 Irvine received an Ethics in Journalism award from the World Media Association, a group founded in 1978 by Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church. In 1994 Irvine defended the controversial Washington Times, founded by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon, saying: "The Washington Times is one of the few newspapers in the country that provides some balance."
- Glaberson, William. Conservative Daily Tries to Expand National Niche, New York Times, June 27, 1994
According to Michael T. Kaufman, Irvine's "Accuracy in Media" "paved the way for the tide of conservative talk shows, Web sites and news programming that would follow decades later." According to Alex S. Jones of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government," ...AIM really was the fountainhead of the effort to denounce the liberal media, and create the image of the mainstream media as very liberal..."
In 1993, Irvine wrote The News Manipulators: Why You Can't Trust the News, with A. I. M. investigator Cliff Kincaid and Joseph C. Goulden, ISBN 0962505315.