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

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

12.14 Global warming made Hurricane Harvey deadly rains three times more likely, research reveals

12.14 The long read: A different dimension of loss’: inside the great insect die-off

12.14 After years of toxic oil spills, indigenous Peruvians use tech to fight back

12.13 Arctic permafrost thawing faster than ever, US climate study finds

12.13 Drugs Don't Kill People, Neoliberalism Kills People

12.13 English rivers polluted by powerful insecticides, first tests reveal [Are similar tests of U.S. waters conducted by the EPA anymore? We think not...]

12.12 Ophelia Dahl’s National Health Service

12.12 Overfishing and climate change push seabirds to extinction

12.12 Macron awards US scientists grants to move to France in defiance of Trump

12.11 The Feminist Case For Single Payer [we lack for such sanity in U.S. media & politics]

12.11 Australia's greenhouse gas emissions from transport are highest on record

12.11 No more green rhetoric. A sustainable future is vital and possible [we lack for such sanity in U.S. media & politics]

12.11 North Atlantic right whales could become extinct, US officials say

12.11 Mass starvation is humanity’s fate if we keep flogging the land to death

12.11 Why did climate scientists emit 30,000 tonnes of C02 this weekend? [use teleconferencing instead!]

News Media Matters

12.13 Warning Against Abdication of Duty, Senators Demand FCC Abandon Net Neutrality Vote [what if only fake news can be accessed quickly...]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

12.14 Three reasons Republicans should support the Dream Act

12.14 Five years after Sandy Hook, U.S. gun-control advocates switch strategy

12.14 USA Today's Whopper of an Editorial Beautifully Bashes "Uniquely Awful" Trump

12.14 'If This Bill Passes, People Will Die': Tax Scam Opponents Rally as GOP Aims for Final Vote Next Week [another 'pure' Republican bill purposely done in secret to avoid embarassing analysis]

12.13 The US is penny wise and pound foolish on the climate

12.13 UN Official Shocked By Toxic Conditions in US Black Belt: 'Worst Poverty' in First World

12.13 African-Americans, Women Hand Republican Roy Moore Defeat in Alabama

12.13 Why I’m Calling My Reps to Ask For True Tax Reform That Benefits Those Who Need It

12.12 Mr. Mnuchin’s Magical Math on Taxes

12.12 Robert Mueller is closing in on Trump. Congress must protect his investigation

12.12 'No shame': how the Trump administration granted big oil's wishlist ["Legal bribing of government" ignores health & life on Earth]

Justice Matters

12.13 US Concern Over 'Pervasive' High-Level Corruption Surging Under Trump: Poll [anyone surprised?]

12.12 The right-wing takeover of the US court system will transform America

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

12.14 World's richest 0.1% have boosted their wealth by as much as poorest half

12.14 Inequality is not inevitable – but the US 'experiment' is a recipe for divergence

12.13 How big oil is tightening its grip on Donald Trump's White House

12.13 The “Death Tax” Cargo Cult [we lack for morals and sanity in U.S. media & politics]

12.12 Who Broke the Economy? [might the recent template legislation from Koch bros.’ ALEC be implicated?]

International & Futurism

12.14 Israeli undercover soldiers seen arresting Palestinian protesters [Palestinians need more and better weapons for a fair fight]

12.13 Muslim leaders declare 'East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine'

12.13 400,000 Children in DR Congo Are At Risk of Dying from Acute Malnutrition

12.12 Global Conflicts to Watch in 2018

12.12 France to impose total ban on mobile phones in schools

12.12 China building network of refugee camps along border with North Korea

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: