Masquerading as a media watchdog, Cliff Kincaid is actually an unrepentant propagandist for extremist right-wing causes who knows few boundaries in his attempts to smear liberal foes.
About Cliff Kincaid
Among his wild pronouncements as director of Accuracy in Media (AIM) are the claims that global warming is a scam perpetrated by the “religious left,” that President Obama is a socialist Muslim, and that Marxist elements have hijacked the Roman Catholic Church in order to facilitate a “foreign invasion of the U.S.” by Latinos. But Kincaid reserves a special loathing for gays and lesbians, who he believes are destroying the media, the military, the government, and the American way of life.
In his own words
“There is no such thing as a ‘gay conservative,’ unless the term ‘conservative’ has lost all meaning. But there is a homosexual movement that has its roots in Marxism and is characterized by anti-Americanism and hatred of Christian values.”
—Column for AIM, “CPAC and the Conservatives,” March 2013
“In addition to [newly elected New York City Mayor Bill] De Blasio’s support for communist regimes in Cuba and Nicaragua and embrace of ‘progressive’ elements of global Islam, his wife is a former lesbian and former member of a Marxist collective opposed to capitalism and freedom.”
—Column for RenewAmerica.com, Oct. 2013
“Why do Catholic officials want to encourage illegal immigration? The answer is quite simple. Most of the illegal aliens are Catholics. Plus, the church makes lots of government money by hosting and serving the immigrants.”
—Column for AIM, “Catholic Church Facilitates Foreign Invasion,” April 2010
Cliff Kincaid, director of Accuracy in Media’s AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, has been serving up far-right propaganda for more than 30 years. He plays to the crowd by condemning typical rightist foes such as liberals, President Obama, Muslims and immigrants, and, especially, gays and lesbians. Whatever his topic, he is usually short on facts and long on innuendo, citing friendly sources from the right wing fringe to back him up.
Concurrent with his editorial role at AIM, Kincaid runs an antigovernment “Patriot” organization, America’s Survival, dedicated to rooting out the perceived influence of global institutions such as the United Nations and “the international Communist movement.” The group is especially concerned with President Obama’s alleged Communist leanings. According to the America’s Survival website: “Our ongoing efforts include a project to educate the public about the influence and activities of Communist agents in America, including members of the terrorist Weather Underground and Frank Marshall Davis, who was Barack Obama’s childhood mentor.”
Both America’s Survival and AIM have received significant support from foundations controlled by right-wing financier Richard Mellon Scaife. This support included underwriting one of AIM’s most notorious early “exposés,” a widely discredited report by Christopher W. Ruddy that linked President Bill Clinton to the 1993 suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster.
Born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1954, Kincaid received a B.A. in journalism and communications from the University of Toledo. After graduating, he moved to Washington, D.C., for an internship sponsored by conservative author M. Stanton Evans’ National Journalism Center (another of the center's former interns is right-wing attack dog and author Ann Coulter). Evans, a contributing editor at Human Events magazine, then helped Kincaid land a writing job at the magazine.
After several years at Human Events, Kincaid joined Iran-Contra scandal figure Oliver North’s Freedom Alliance foundation as a researcher and newsletter editor. He also worked for Citizens United, a right-wing organization responsible for the racially charged Willie Horton TV ads that helped sink 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis.
In 1978, Kincaid moved to Accuracy in Media (AIM), where he has been ever since. Founded as a nonprofit in 1969 by economist Reed Irvine, AIM bills itself as a citizens’ media watchdog whose mission is “to promote accuracy, fairness and balance in news reporting.” In that regard, it is failing miserably, considering that it is concerned almost exclusively with discrediting “liberal” media stories and political figures with whom it disagrees. Innuendo, misinformation, speculation and distortion are Kincaid’s favorite tools, and, like a schoolyard bully, he is particularly fond of homophobic slurs.
In Kincaid’s worldview, sexual orientation indicates the validity of a person’s opinions, including potential conservative allies. During an August 2013 National Press Club presentation Kincaid decried the inclusion of Fox commentator Shepard Smith on Out Magazine’s “Power List.” “I don’t know about you,” Kincaid said, “but if I was listed as one of the most powerful homosexuals in the media I would first demand a retraction and probably sue for defamation and collect a lot of money. Shepard Smith, according to my information, has never asked that that be taken down.”
Through America’s Survival, Kincaid released a lengthy report by longtime gay-basher Peter LaBarbera claiming that Fox News has “become pro-homosexual propaganda” because of “radical changes at Fox News that should cause great concern to pro-family conservatives.” The report cited positive statements about LGBT people by Smith and other Fox personalities, including Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly.
The “pro-homosexual media” created the false perception of “overwhelming public support” for repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don't Tell” policy,” according to Kincaid. He predicted that straight soldiers would “probably leave in disgust and dismay” if the policy were rescinded (which it eventually was), 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.)
And Kincaid applauded a proposed law in Uganda that would impose the death penalty on large numbers of gay men — a proposal that even many hard-line U.S. anti-gay groups felt constrained to denounce. 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.”
Sometimes, Kincaid is able to combine several of his favorite targets in one assault, as he did with breathtaking aplomb following the election of Bill De Blasio as mayor of New York City in November 2013. In a column for RenewAmerica.com, Kincaid wrote: “In addition to De Blasio’s support for communist regimes in Cuba and Nicaragua and embrace of ‘progressive’ elements of global Islam, his wife is a former lesbian and former member of a Marxist ‘collective’ opposed to capitalism and freedom.”
Kincaid managed to equate Marxism, gays, anti-Americanism and anti-Christianity in one fell swoop in a March 2013 AIM column entitled “CPAC and the Conservatives.” “There is no such thing as a ‘gay conservative,’ unless the term ‘conservative’ has lost all meaning,” he wrote. “But there is a homosexual movement that has its roots in Marxism and is characterized by anti-Americanism and hatred of Christian values.”
A variation of Kincaid's tactic of using gay slurs to discredit an opponent was his attack on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, an Obama appointee. Jennings had previously founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, to protect both gay and straight students from bullying. When he was appointed in May 2009 to a position in the federal Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools, Kincaid and AIM launched a series of vicious attacks in a campaign to get Jennings fired.
Kincaid’s principle charge was that GLSEN had praised a “communist pervert,” referring to Harry Hay, who Jennings once said inspired him. Kincaid noted that Hay, a gay-rights pioneer, had supported the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), and claimed that Hay was a communist. In reality, Jennings’ comments referred to Hay’s role in launching the first national gay rights group in 1948 — not NAMBLA.
The smear campaign quickly unraveled after one of AIM's student interns posted a blog item 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.”
Despite Kincaid’s repeated efforts to get him ousted, Jennings remains at the Department of Education.
But Kincaid is fast and loose with the truth whether the subject is LGBT influence, environmentalists, President Obama, or immigration. For instance, 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 a December 2009 column on NewWithViews.com, he 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.”
Kincaid also charged the Catholic Church with being “an agent of the government in facilitating a foreign invasion of the United States.” In 2010, when then-Cardinal Roger Mahony voiced his opposition to Arizona's restrictive Proposition 200 anti-immigrant legislation, Kincaid saw nefarious motives.
“Why do Catholic officials want to encourage illegal immigration?” Kincaid asked in his April 2010 AIM column. “The answer is quite simple. Most of the illegal aliens are Catholics. Plus, the church makes lots of government money by hosting and serving the immigrants.” The latter assertion refers to government grants to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops “to provide specialized services to particularly vulnerable migrants, such as unaccompanied minors and victims of human trafficking.”
In May 2013, Kincaid was one of 60 national conservative leaders who signed a letter protesting the Schumer-Rubio immigration reform bill (S.744), along with Frank Gaffney (Center for Security Policy), Lars Larson (talk show host), and former Congressman Allen West. They protested that the bill was so bloated it would be better to start over from scratch, and numbered among their concerns that the bill “cedes excessive control over immigration law to an administration that has repeatedly proven itself to be untrustworthy, even duplicitous.”
But Kincaid’s hostility towards immigrants predates his hatred of President Obama.
“It was the issue the presidential candidates and the major media didn’t want to talk about – immigration,” Kincaid wrote on the America’s Survival site following the 2000 election. “And yet immigrants, many of them illegal, may have provided Al Gore with millions of votes on November 7th. Indeed, Gore was the administration official who engineered the fraudulent ‘Citizenship USA’ program that brought illegal aliens with criminal backgrounds and potential terrorists into the U.S. as citizens.”
Nor was George Bush spared the wrath of Kincaid. In May 2007, Kincaid wrote an AIM column titled “Last Stand for American Sovereignty,” about the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), world federalists, immigration and the rumored North American Union (Kincaid has tirelessly plugged the baseless conspiracy theory that elites in Mexico, the United States and Canada are secretly planning to merge their three countries).
“The Bush White House, Democrats and the media currently work in concert to promote amnesty for illegal aliens as ‘comprehensive immigration reform,’ Kincaid wrote. “House Republicans like Reps. Edward Royce, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter see through it. And illegal aliens, of course, don’t even exist in the world of politically correct journalism.”
Kincaid has expended enormous amounts of vitriol on President Obama, usually in the form of name-calling and discrediting accusations, rather than discussions of issues. He regularly calls Obama a Marxist, a socialist, and a communist – using the terms interchangeably. A typical example is from a December 2012 column titled “American Reds Still Backing Obama”: “The communist resurgence under Obama is not surprising, since he has consistently waged a Marxist class warfare campaign as President and was influenced as a young man by Communist Party member Frank Marshall Davis.”
Over the years, Kincaid has found the time to write or co-write nine books with titles such as Global Bondage: The UN Plan to Rule the World. He has also achieved a modicum of acceptance as a commentator, with appearances on programs such as Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes” and “The O’Reilly Factor” and CNN’s “Crossfire,” and he has published articles in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Chronicles, Human Events and Insight.