Newspaper logo  
 
 
  Sinclair's Partisan Ploy Cries Out for Equal Time

MEDIA ACTION ALERT:

Sinclair's Partisan Ploy Cries Out for Equal Time

Source: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

...Sinclair's obvious attempt to affect the election by broadcasting the film is exactly the sort of use of public airwaves to promote station owners' private political agendas that [now discarded] federal regulations have always been designed to prevent.
October 12, 2004--In an unprecedented move, the Republican-friendly Sinclair Broadcasting company has ordered its 62 television stations to preempt regular prime-time broadcasting to air the anti-John Kerry documentary "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" just two weeks before the election. The film is to be shown in several swing states, including Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.

"Stolen Honor"-- much like the discredited Swift Boat Veterans ads-- offers unsubstantiated claims by alleged Vietnam POWs that their Vietnamese captors used Kerry's anti-war statements against them. In fact, the organization that paid for "Stolen Honor"-- called POWs for Truth-- recently merged with the Swift Boat Vets, forming a combined group called Swift Vets and POWS for Truth (Talking Points Memo, 10/11/04).

The film was made by Carlton Sherwood, a consultant to the Bush administration's Department of Homeland Security and a personal friend of the department's head, Tom Ridge. A former reporter for Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times, Sherwood also wrote a book about Moon, Inquisition, that the self-proclaimed messiah was allowed to see before publication. After reviewing the book and giving Sherwood a list of changes, Moon aide James Gavin wrote to Moon: "In addition to silencing our critics now, the book should be invaluable in persuading others of our legitimacy for many years to come." Moon reportedly ordered 100,000 advance copies of the book from the publisher, a subsidiary of the conservative imprint Regnery (Frontline, 1/21/92).

Sinclair's ties to the right are no less strong. According to the Los Angeles Times (10/9/04), in the 2004 political cycle, 97 percent of contributions made by Sinclair executives went to Republicans. Sinclair has a record of allowing its conservative agenda to influence its programming decisions. For instance, in April, Sinclair ordered seven of its ABC-affiliated stations not to air an episode of Nightline that featured the names of American soldiers killed in Iraq, saying, "We do not believe such political statements should be disguised as news content."

However, soon after the September 11 attacks, Sinclair stations were required to air editorial statements in support of the Bush administration (Extra!, 11-12/01). And most Sinclair stations are also required to air commentaries from the company's vice president, Mark E. Hyman, during their newscasts. Hyman's conservative commentaries routinely include harsh attacks on Kerry, who Hyman accuses of "a lifetime of supporting Communist forces opposed to the U.S." (The Point, 9/22/04).

Questions have been raised about whether the extraordinary decision to force stations to carry the film violates FCC requirements that broadcasts provide equal time for electoral candidates. The rule does not apply to coverage of legitimate news stories, and Hyman appeared on CNN (10/12/04) to claim that "Stolen Honor" fell in this category:

"This is news. I can't change the fact that these people decided to come forward today. The networks had this opportunity over a month ago to speak with these people. They chose to suppress them. They chose to ignore them. They are acting like Holocaust deniers, pretending these men don't exist."

Hyman's bizarre analogy aside, Sinclair's obvious attempt to affect the election by broadcasting the film is exactly the sort of use of public airwaves to promote station owners' private political agendas that federal regulations have always been designed to prevent. "American thought and American politics will be largely at the mercy of those who operate these stations," Rep. Luther Johnson warned at the time of the passage of the Radio Act of 1927.

With growing numbers of stations controlled by chains like Sinclair-- which controls more television licenses than any other operator-- these concerns are more relevant than ever. As former FCC chairman Reed Hundt wrote to Sinclair (Talking Points Memo, 10/11/04):

"How can it be part of a broadcaster's public interest obligation to aspire to alter the perceptions of the audience about a presidential candidate by showing biased content that in no way reflects either breaking news or even-handed treatment of the issues? Why should a broadcaster keep its licenses if it behaves in this manner?"

If Sinclair wants to give more exposure to "Stolen Honor," it can do so fairly by providing equal time for an examination of the same subject from an opposing perspective. The documentary "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry," a positive account of Kerry's service in Vietnam and his anti-war activism upon his return, would seem to be an ideal candidate. The Chicago Tribune (10/1/04) called it "almost essential viewing... that anyone who intends to vote this November should make every effort to see."


ACTION: Please call Sinclair Broadcasting and tell them that if it airs a partisan documentary attacking a presidential candidate just before the election, then it should give equal time to a documentary from an opposing perspective, like "Going Upriver."

CONTACT:
Sinclair Broadcasting
Phone: 410-568-1500
comments@sbgi.net

As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if you maintain a polite tone. Please cc fair@fair.org with your correspondence.

For more information about activist campaigns regarding Sinclair, see: sinclairwatch.org


Your donation to FAIR makes a difference: fair.org/donate.html

SUBSCRIBE TO EXTRA! AND GET FAIR'S NEW BOOK FOR FREE: The Oh Really? Factor fair.org/ohreally.html

FAIR SHIRTS: Get your "Don't Trust the Corporate Media" shirt today at FAIR's online store: merchantamerica.com/fair/

FAIR produces CounterSpin, a weekly radio show heard on over 130 stations in the U.S. and Canada. To find the CounterSpin station nearest you, visit fair.org/counterspin/stations.html

Feel free to respond to FAIR ( fair@fair.org ). We can't reply to everything, but we will look at each message. We especially appreciate documented examples of media bias or censorship. And please send copies of your email correspondence with media outlets, including any responses, to fair@fair.org.

You can subscribe to FAIR-L at our web site: http://www.fair.org . Our subscriber list is kept confidential.




Copyright © 2004 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on October 13, 2004.

 
Local Stories, Events

02.21 Roads to nowhere: how infrastructure built on American inequality [the cure is not more of the same]

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

02.24 In 'Tremendous Victory for Taxpayers, Public Health, and Planet,' Federal Court Rejects Trump Admin.'s Attempt to Suspend Methane Rule

02.24 Weatherwatch: floating windfarms prove their worth

02.23 In the Trump Administration, the Polluters Are in Control

02.22 Standing Rock is everywhere: one year later

02.22 Red Cloud’s Revolution: Oglalla Sioux Freeing Themselves From Fossil Fuel [making an "engine for good" that creates good jobs & products enabling the tribe to cut or eliminate polluting fossil-power utility bills]

02.21 Newborn survival rates in US only slightly better than in Sri Lanka [caused by highest-profit, non-universal healthcare and the political war against Planned Parenthood pre-natal care by willfully ignorant Republicans]

02.21 Maternal Health Care Is Disappearing in Rural America

02.21 Climate change 'will push European cities towards breaking point'

02.20 'Much work needed' to make digital economy environmentally sustainable

02.20 'Sloppy and careless': courts call out Trump blitzkrieg on environmental rules [what happens when good judges are replaced with Trump-judges?]

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

02.24 Demanding 'Fundamental Restructuring of the Economy,' Progressives Embrace Bold New Agenda

02.24 'Corruption, Plain and Simple': Public Comments Show Outrage at CFPB's Corporate Turn Under Mulvaney

02.24 Fears grow as rightwing billionaires battle to erode US union rights

02.23 California agriculture sees 'chilling, damaging effect' from wave of immigration audits

02.23 Where Gun-Control Advocates Could Win in 2018

02.23 White House indicates it could find funds to train and arm 1 million teachers [2:03 video; Trump proposes what gun manufacturers and NRA want rather than confiscating assault weapons that Australia has proven works]

02.22 Top Ten Signs the US is the most Corrupt nation in the World (2018 Edn.) [1:40 video]

02.22 US school shootings: Florida survivors take NRA and politicians to task [4:49 Cameron Kasky video]

02.22 #NeverAgain: Parkland Students Lead Thousands in Rally to Demand Gun Control Legislation

02.22 NRA, Russia and Trump: How 'dark money' is poisoning American democracy [the public demands their government function morally and professionally as intended—not as bribed or for personal profit]

Justice Matters

02.23 Robert Mueller files 32 new fraud charges against ex-Trump aides

02.22 Paul Manafort got $16 million in loans after the election. Mueller finds that very interesting.

High Crimes?

02.23 Medical crisis in east Ghouta as hospitals 'systematically targeted' [war crimes continue – why are the UN and ICC so ineffective in stopping this and similar horrors?]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

02.22 Trump’s Bogus Infrastructure Plan Takes the U.S. Further Down the Road of Rentier Capitalism

02.22 Plundering the Planet: Coca-Cola And Nestlé To Privatize The Largest Reserve Of Water In South America [When the public is ignored for profits, THIS is what could go wrong]

International & Futurism

02.23 The fairest of them all: why Europe beats the US on equality

02.21 'I love Rome, but Rome doesn't love us': the city's new migrant crisis

02.21 Netanyahu aide agrees to implicate PM over corruption claims – reports

02.21 Netherlands becoming a narco-state, warn Dutch police [instead of a totally criminal solution, why not develop safer, non-addictive prescription drugs to put dangerous narcotics gangs out of business]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web

Public Service Ads: