Busted! Media Matters' "False and Defamatory Charge"

           The left-wing organization Media Matters (MMFA) appears to have been caught red-handed in an ugly and false smear attack against Cliff Kincaid, editor of Accuracy in Media (AIM) and president of America's Survival, Inc. In an August 19, 2005, item entitled,  "AIM's Kincaid posted 'letter' from Afghan ambassador thanking him for petition to extradite Newsweek's Isikoff," Media Matters clearly implies that Kincaid fabricated a letter from an Afghan ambassador. However, every indication reveals that Kincaid did no such thing.         Media Matters posted the following in the item's first paragraph:

Accuracy in Media (AIM) editor Cliff Kincaid has posted a "letter" on his America's Survival Inc. website that he claims to have received from Afghan ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad. The "letter" thanks Kincaid for sending a petition to the ambassador calling for the extradition of Newsweek investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff to Afghanistan. But the "letter" from the ambassador, which makes reference to "the over six hundred supporters" who purportedly signed petitions calling for Isikoff's extradition, bears all the hallmarks of a do-it-yourself, cut-and-paste job.

        By putting quotation marks around the word letter, by saying the "letter" was one that "he claims to have received," and by asserting that it "bears all the hallmarks of a do-it-yourself, cut-and-paste job," the implication from Media Matters could not be more clear: Kincaid posted a bogus letter. Another paragraph also analyzes the formatting (i.e., html, gif) of the letter.        The truth? Less than one day later, Kincaid posted scanned images (.pdf) of the actual letter and the actual envelope in which it was received. Kincaid also posted a public statement denouncing Media Matters for their "false and defamatory charge."        Media Matters' belief that the letter was bogus appears to be based on an HTML/"electronic collage" (MMFA's words) of the letter that Kincaid had originally posted. The actual letter contains Kincaid's home address, which he wished to redact. The webmaster "also converted the letter to HTML for easier reading" (Kincaid). Simple enough.        What's astonishing about their ugly attack, as Kincaid points out, is that Media Matters could have verified the authenticity of the letter with one simple phone call or correspondence. Instead, they simply went out and besmirched the guy!         This shameful episode reveals a vicious and callous nature of the people at Media Matters. It also obliterates any remaining shred of the organization's credibility. 

Dave Pierre
Dave Pierre is a contributing writer to NewsBusters and the creator of TheMediaReport.com.