- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Journalist and media critic Reed Irvine, who relentlessly exposed the foibles of a biased press for more than three decades, died Tuesday from complications of a stroke he suffered late last year. He was 82.

Mr. Irvine was a pioneer in his field, founding the nonprofit watchdog group Accuracy in Media (AIM) in 1969 during an era when the content and ideological underpinnings of TV and newspaper stories went largely unquestioned.

Oxford educated, a Fulbright scholar and a former economist with the Federal Reserve System, Mr. Irvine cheerfully took on the credibility of press giants — inaugurating a full-blown “Can Dan” campaign against CBS newsman Dan Rather 16 years ago.

“We’ve fought the good fight,” Mr. Irvine once said. “Someone had to start pointing out there were serious errors being made in the media — and a lot of them were the fault of the ideological biases of the reporters and editors.”

He took on dozens of news organizations and high-profile scions of the so-called liberal press, mounting cases against the New York Times, CNN, NBC and The Washington Post, prompting former Post editor Ben Bradlee to call him a “miserable, carping, retromingent vigilante,” comparing Mr. Irvine to an animal that urinates backward.

Mr. Irvine responded by sending Mr. Bradlee a trophy, courtesy of the Miserable Carping Retromingent Vigilante Society.

Mr. Bradlee sent it back.

The intrepid but good-humored Mr. Irvine got his point across.

“It sticks in my craw, but I’ll say it: Irvine and his AIM are good for the press,” Post ombudsman Charles Seib said at the time.

“I feel like you’re an absolutely legitimate group, and I personally have a lot of respect for you, Reed,” CNN founder Ted Turner once told him.

“Though he wasn’t trained as a journalist, he became one and was better at it than most journalists themselves,” said Cliff Kincaid, editor of the AIM Report.

“But it was a shock to many of them that he used the tools of their trade to analyze their work. He bought up shares in big media companies so he could attend their stockholders meetings and ask unpopular questions — and it all ended up in his report to the public,” Mr. Kincaid said.

Mr. Irvine wielded words with the best of them, penning hundreds of columns and joining in spirited debate with foes on CNN’s “Crossfire” and ABC’s “Nightline,” among other broadcasts.

In addition, Mr. Irvine founded Accuracy in Academia in 1985 to monitor political bias in education and authored two books chronicling media deception. Accolades for his efforts included the “Ethics in Journalism” award from the World Media Association and the “Friend of Freedom Award” from the Gielow Family Foundation, which cited Mr. Irvine’s “tireless dedication to the search for truth.”

Born in Salt Lake City, Mr. Irvine graduated from the University of Utah before joining the U.S. Marines as an intelligence officer during World War II. While serving as a Japanese interpreter for the allied occupation force in Japan, he met Kay Araki, a survivor of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack. The couple married three years later.

Mr. Irvine is survived by his wife, son Donald, and three grandchildren of Gaithersburg. Friends are invited to call from 6 to 8 p.m. tomorrow at the DeVol Funeral Home, 10 East Deer Park Drive, Gaithersburg.

A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 17700 Old Baltimore Road, Olney, with interment at Parklawn Cemetery. Memorial contributions can be made to Accuracy in Media.

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