November 20, 2004
Tribute to Reed Irvine
Senate Floor Statement of Senator Sessions

Mr. President, I rise to commemorate the life of a noted conservative journalist, media critic, and a leading authority on media bias, Reed Irvine. Reed Irvine passed on November 16, 2004, and is known as the man who founded the organization Accuracy in Media. He leaves a legacy of fighting a left-leaning media and was a long-time critic of the big three networks at a time when only three network nightly news shows dominated the distribution of information to the public.

Reed Irvine was born in Salt Lake City, UT, the son of William J. and Edna May Irvine. He graduated from the University of Utah at the age of 19 in 1942, having been elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He enlisted in the Navy and was selected to take a crash program in the Japanese language, emerging as an interpreter-translator with a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps. He participated in the campaign of Saipan, Tinian, Okinawa as an intelligence officer with the 2nd Marine Division, and served in the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1948.

After the war, Mr. Irvine was an economist, Fulbright scholar and former Federal Reserve official. He joined the Federal Reserve Board in 1951 as an economist in the Far East Section of the Division of International Finance. Mr. Irvine wrote extensively about the free market and advocated sound monetary and fiscal policy.

He founded Accuracy in Media in 1969 and its sister organization, Accuracy in Academia, in 1985. Mr. Irvine pioneered the concept of a citizens' media watchdog organization that criticized the errors and omissions of the mainstream press, buying ads to publicize serious errors and buying stock in media companies to enable Accuracy in Media representatives to attend their annual meetings to discuss its complaints with the chairman. Irvine was tenacious in his quest for the full truth in media.

Mr. Irvine is survived by his wife of 56 years, Kay Araki Irvine, his son and three grandchildren. Reed Irvine will be remembered as being at the forefront of the conservative movement's attack on media bias and has left us four books that study the bias of the media.

In 1969, when Reed Irvine began his crusade, most Americans trusted the mainstream media. Americans received the biased news coverage and believed it. Today, the liberal bias in media, Hollywood, and academia is widely accepted as a fact of life.

Some day, I hope that the mainstream media will lose its leftwing bias. I hope for the day when academia will focus all its attention on scholarship and leave the liberal indoctrination for the pundits. But, I do not expect those days to come very soon. However, thanks in large part to the life's work of Reed Irvine and the movement he helped launch, Americans have now accepted media bias as a fact of life. The American Society of Newspapers published a study in 1999 that showed 78 percent of Americans believe there is a bias in the media.

I believe this understanding by the American public promotes a more informed democracy. People watch the news with a critical eye. Students question their professors. Americans are seeking out talk radio, alternative media. The Internet is flourishing.

Thanks to dedicated watchdogs such as Reed Irvine, the American people now see through the bias in the media. Dan Rather's ludicrous reporting on President Bush's National Guard service was debunked in no time on the Internet and talk radio. A liberal bias that was once lamented by conservatives and ignored by the public has now become a running joke among conservatives and an accepted fact in the minds of Americans. People, who once powerlessly accepted the news however they could get it, are now voting with their remote controls.

When President Bush delivered his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention this year, 7.3 million people saw it on Fox. Meanwhile, 5.9 million watched on NBC, 5.1 million on ABC, 5 million on CBS, 2.7 million on CNN and 1.7 million on MSNBC, according to Nielsen Media Research. Fox also beat the broadcast networks throughout the rest of the Republican Convention coverage--this, despite the fact that ABC, CBS, and NBC are available in about 110 million homes, while Fox is carried in about 85 million. Reed Irvine's message has been received, and the people are fighting back.

News is now reported in countless ways, 24 hours a day, and the American people are deciding for themselves what it all means. For this new coverage we can thank the Fox News channel, and the countless talk show hosts, magazines, Internet sites, and organizations. However, I think the most important gift that has been given to our country is the critical eye of the American public. A voting public that watches the news with a critical eye is one that cannot be easily manipulated. A college student who asks his professor tough questions will end up better educated and ready for the world.

For this wonderful gift, we owe a special thanks to Reed Irvine.