Cliff Kincaid Takes on 'Liberal Media,' Gays
Illustration by Jeffrey Smith
Cliff Kincaid is one of the American far right's most energetic and obsessive propagandists. For more than 30 years at Accuracy in Media (AIM), a right-wing outfit opposed to the "liberal" media, Kincaid has cranked out reams of material — rife with innuendo and speculation but light on facts —aimed at buttressing his far-right, xenophobic and homophobic views.
What's more, some in the media mainstream actually take him seriously.
Aside from his editorial role at AIM, the notably humorless Kincaid also runs an antigovernment "Patriot" group, America's Survival, whose stated mission is to "expose the influence of global institutions," mostly meaning the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. Ten days after Walter Cronkite's death, Kincaid wrote that the famous news anchor had been a globalist "one-worlder." Since 2008, the group's obsession has been President Obama.
While complaining mightily about the mainstream media's supposed bias, Kincaid — who declined a request for comment from the Intelligence Report — revels in his own, citing as authorities in his articles far-right ideologues and organizations that share his politics.
And what exactly are his views? Basically, Kincaid advances a hodgepodge of fairly run-of-the-mill, far-right conspiracy theories and allegations: President Obama has "well-documented socialist connections," is the product of a "mysterious upbringing as a Muslim in Indonesia," and may well not have been born in this country. Hillary Clinton is a lesbian. Global warming is a "fraudulent scheme." And the Roman Catholic Church has been hijacked "by Marxist elements" and is "facilitating the foreign invasion of the U.S." by northbound Latinos.
But Kincaid reserves a special loathing for gays and lesbians.
He has blamed gays for corrupting the military and making America more vulnerable to terrorism. He says the "pro-homosexual media" has created the false perception of "overwhelming public support" for repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. "Establishment journalists," he has written, "are aligned with academia" ("sexual perverts masquerading as scholars") in supporting transgendered individuals — "a cruel hoax to undermine the already shaky foundation of the traditional family." He can't contain his rage at the Republicans for not expelling gays from their ranks, titling a recent article, "Is the GOP becoming the Gay Old Party?" And he has been one of the staunchest defenders of a draconian proposed law in Uganda that would impose the death penalty on large numbers of gay men — a proposal so radical that even many hard-line U.S. anti-gay groups have felt constrained to denounce it. To Kincaid, the proposed law seems merely "designed to send a message to … the foreign homosexual lobby to keep their hands off Uganda's families and kids."
Kincaid has taken his anti-gay message on the road recently, participating in an August conference put on by the hard-edged Americans for Truth about Homosexuality where he promised to expose "gay influence on the media" and "the homosexual drive for the ‘right' to donate possibly infected and contaminated blood to the nation's blood supply."
Kincaid might be easily dismissed were it not for his ability to reach the general public. He has appeared regularly on Fox News programs and he's been featured on other major television networks as well. Hate radio's Michael Savage, who has an audience of some 8 million people, has had him on. He's a regular at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, a major event for conservative Republicans. He's appeared at other conservative confabs, such as last April's Jericho March & Conference in Washington, D.C., where he joined a mix of religious-right activists and conspiracy-oriented Patriot groups. Moreover, he's working to extend his organization's influence well into the future — AIM has become a prime training ground for aspiring "conservative" journalists.
Accuracy in Media (AIM) has celebrated anti-communist witch hunter Joseph McCarthy (left) and insisted that Clinton deputy White House counsel Vince Foster (right) was murdered. Cliff Kincaid, who once worked for Iran-Contra scandal figure Oliver North (center left) is now the principal writer at AIM, which was founded in 1969 by Reed Irvine (center right).
Joe McCarthy to Vince Foster
Born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1954, Cliff Kincaid graduated with a B.A. from the University of Toledo and went to Washington, D.C., via a national journalism program headed by conservative author M. Stanton Evans, a contributing editor to Human Events, a weekly magazine. (Last year, AIM gave Evans an award to honor his "groundbreaking research into the media's vilification of Senator Joe McCarthy" and his book, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies.)
Kincaid spent seven years at Human Events and also worked as an editorial writer and newsletter editor for Iran-Contra scandal figure Oliver North at North's Freedom Alliance foundation. In addition, Kincaid worked for Citizens United, a right-wing organization fixated on Bill Clinton that created the racially charged Willie Horton TV ads in 1988 that helped doom the presidential aspirations of Democrat Michael Dukakis.
In 1978, Kincaid joined Accuracy in Media. He has been a prolific and wordy contributor ever since.
AIM was founded as a nonprofit in 1969 by economist Reed Irvine to correct what Irvine saw as serious media errors. In truth, he was only concerned with liberal media errors. (Just last year, AIM sponsored a so-called Conservative Leadership Summit to Confront Media Bias, with Kincaid joining other far-right media and political figures for a six-hour talkfest on the topic.)
In its early years, AIM sent letters to newspaper editors asking for corrections. If newspapers refused, AIM bought ads in the publications with its corrections. Eventually, AIM began to buy stock in major media companies, enabling its representatives to speak at shareholder meetings.
When Kincaid came on board in 1978, the AIM Report was six years old. He and AIM savaged the Clintons, promoting the theory, which became received wisdom on the far right, that Clinton deputy White House counsel Vince Foster was murdered. (He was not.) Not coincidentally, that claim also was zealously pursued by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, a major financial backer of AIM.
That kind of backing has helped to make AIM far better financed than most groups with similar views. As of April 2009, it held $3.6 million in net assets.
Calling the Kettle Black
In the event he bothers to substantiate his positions at all, Kincaid typically relies on sources who parrot his views. Take global warming. While there is consensus among the vast majority of climatologists worldwide that the earth is warming and human activity is the cause, Kincaid sees a scam perpetrated by the "religious left," among others. In an article last January, Kincaid tried to buttress this allegation by quoting from a bizarre book by James Wanliss, a physics professor at tiny Presbyterian College in South Carolina.
Wanliss argues that the environmental movement "is a religion with a vision of sin and repentance, heaven and hell. Its communion is organic food. Its sacraments are sex, abortion, and when all else fails, sterilization. Its saints are Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Both professing Protestants and Roman Catholics bear a burden of guilt for the current political mess we are in with the global warming and other hysterias."
Despite his self-appointed role as a media monitor, Kincaid often settles in his own work for simple speculation. In an article last February, for example, Kincaid quoted from a couple of poems that Barrack Obama wrote at age 19 about his father. "But what if it was really about [Frank Marshall] Davis?" Kincaid asked about one of them, referring to a man he has described as Obama's communist mentor, a "sex pervert and pothead."
"Perverts" seem to occupy a good portion of Kincaid's waking hours.
In 2005, he said news organizations should engage in a "Quit Gay Sex" campaign against "the dangerous and addictive homosexual lifestyle." In the years since, he has repeatedly railed about the alleged "homosexual agenda." Today, he never misses an opportunity to tell his readers that MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is a lesbian and that she and Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart are part of a "homosexual cabal." Nationally syndicated conservative columnist Kathleen Parker isn't gay, but Kincaid declared her conservatism "a farce and a fraud" after the Pulitzer Prize winner criticized the anti-gay Uganda legislation.
The Homosexual Addenda
Kincaid, who describes himself as a married father of three, gets especially worked up when writing about gays in the military. In May, he raised what he apparently saw as the haunting specter of homosexual soldiers wearing women's uniforms if the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy were repealed. He predicted that straight soldiers would "probably leave in disgust and dismay," while others would "choose never to sign up." The military would be a "shambles," the war on terrorism "jeopardized," and a draft required "with soldiers reporting to the male homosexuals already there and in command positions." And then this gem: "They will demand sexual favors to rise in the ranks. … [I]t is a recipe for national suicide."
Last year, AIM published a guest column by Scott Lively, a pastor who runs the anti-gay hate group Abiding Truth Ministries and co-founded another anti-gay hate group, Watchmen on the Walls. Lively is co-author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, which falsely claims that "the Nazi party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history." (In fact, Hitler violently purged gays within the party's own ranks and sent thousands of others to concentration camps.)
Backing up Kincaid's arguments, Lively warned of a mass exodus of "normal men" from the military if homosexuals were allowed to serve openly. "Will proud young men being honed to become weapons of aggression against America's enemies tolerate being ogled in the showers or touched inappropriately or bunking near sexually-active sodomites?" Lively wondered darkly. Eventually, he warned, there could be "a homosexual takeover of the military branches."
It was Lively, too, who Kincaid relied upon heavily as a supposed expert for an article he wrote last year — one of several — that supported what has become widely known as Uganda's proposed "kill the gays" law. Lively was one of three American evangelical Christians who in 2009 visited Uganda to conduct a seminar titled, "Exposing the Truth Behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda" that was heard by thousands of that nation's citizens. The anti-gay legislation was introduced a month after the Americans' visit.
Lively suggested that the proposed law was a rational response to the homosexuality of a Ugandan king more than a century earlier and to U.S. and European activists "working aggressively to re-homosexualize their nation." When both The Washington Post and The New York Times editorialized in favor of the United States ending foreign aid to Uganda if the proposed legislation became law, Kincaid wrote that the threat of rescinding foreign aid "to force a country to accept the homosexual lifestyle is morally wrong."
Cliff Kincaid (left) claims that controversy over Uganda’s infamous “kill the gays” bill was really a White House ploy to draw attention away from the “real scandal” of its appointment of Kevin Jennings (right) to the Department of Education. Jennings founded a group dedicated to protecting straight and gay schoolchildren from bullying.
The true reason for the "orchestrated controversy" surrounding the Uganda bill, according to Kincaid, was to divert attention from the "real scandal" of the Obama Administration's appointment of Kevin Jennings to a post in the Department of Education. Jennings founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, to protect both gay and straight students from bullying.
When Jennings was appointed in May 2009 to a position in the Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools, Kincaid and AIM responded with several columns containing some of their most vicious vitriol to date. For one thing, Kincaid began promoting the theory that GLSEN had praised a "communist pervert." That would be Harry Hay, who Jennings once said inspired him. Kincaid noted the gay-rights pioneer had supported the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), and claimed that Hay was a communist. In fact, Jennings had only praised Hay's role in the start-up of the first ongoing gay rights group in 1948, not NAMBLA.
Even so, one of AIM's student interns posted a blog item last December on AIM's website describing Jennings as "President Obama's favorite pedophile." The next day, the organization that says it specializes in finding liberal media inaccuracies removed the item and posted a half-hearted apology, conceding that it had no evidence of Jennings "being a pedophile and personally teaching perverted sexual practices to young people."
But it was a bone that AIM just couldn't let go of. "We continue to urge the media to vigorously investigate Jennings' background" and his "role in promoting the homosexual agenda and exposing children to discussions of dangerous sexual practices," AIM said, listing three vehemently anti-gay websites as sources.
Despite Kincaid's repeated efforts to get him ousted, Jennings remains at the Department of Education.
The irony of Kincaid's stated mission of correcting media bias and his own regular flouting of basic journalistic standards apparently escapes him entirely. As the Jennings episode and others demonstrate, Kincaid is perfectly willing to engage in speculation, distorted half-truths, and unproved assertions of fact. If that means gays and others are depicted in an entirely false and demonizing light, so be it. That is "accuracy in media" — Cliff Kincaid-style.