Media Watchdog Group Has Connections with Yellowhammer News
The media watchdog group named Alabama Citizens for Media Accountability (ACMA) that launched last month has ties with Yellowhammer News. The group’s goal is ”exposing leftwing bias in the Alabama and national media,” according to the group’s Facebook page.
ACMA’s executive director, Elizabeth Thames BeShears, is a 2012 graduate of the University of Alabama. A former policy analyst and grant coordinator for the Alabama Policy Institute, BeShears reports on Alabama media organizations who, in her view, are liberally biased and are attempting to misinform the Alabama public.
“This is a group I started to hold media accountable. Conservatives and libertarians don’t feel like their voice is being heard,” BeShears said during a phone interview with SHP. “There’s so much of a bias, not only in how things are reported, but what gets picked up and what doesn’t that they’re getting discouraged.”
The group’s website is registered to Cody Sharp of Sharp Guys Web Design, which also designed Yellowhammer News’ website, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
“I don’t know who put the website together,” BeShears said. ACMA links directly to at least three images on Yellowhammer as of 3:00 PM on March 5.
“Cliff and I are working on it together,” BeShears responded when questioned on the involvement of Yellowhammer News’ Cliff Sims. “Cliff is an old friend of mine and it’s something we’ve discussed doing for a while now. I’m at a time and point in my life where I have the freedom to do this kind of work, and Cliff has been helping me build an audience.”
BeShears has written 21 pieces for Yellowhammer since January.
ACMA is funded by the same types of individuals that would fund her former employer, Alabama Policy Institute, according to BeShears. The Institute refers to itself as a “non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families.” She would not state who was funding the organization and said that she did not currently have access to AMCA’s finances.
BeShears said that she plans to organize a 501(c)(4) entity for ACMA, a special type of non-profit organization which can engage in direct political activity.
“I want to be more of a bulldog about it,” BeShears said when discussing why she would not be organizing a more traditional 501(c)(3) which is non-political.
BeShears confirmed that the website has paid for advertisements, but she declined to speak further.