Media
11/10/04 Sinclair Broadcasting: 'Attackumentary' = News By Ari Berman

The Nation

Monday 11 October 2004

Federal election law prohibits public corporations and labor unions from airing “electioneering communication” sixty days before an election. But Sinclair dubs the anti-Kerry attackumentary “news content.”

  Republicans must really be feeling desperate. The GOP-coddling Sinclair Broadcasting Group — whose sixty-four stations reach 25 percent of the national television audience — is forcing its local stations to run an anti-Kerry propaganda film a week before the November 2 election, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. The documentary Stolen Honor, produced by former Tom Ridge stooge Carlton Sherwood, and airing between October 21 and 24, accuses Kerry of actually prolonging the war in Vietnam as a result of his antiwar activism.

  Sinclair's stations include Fox, ABC, CBS, WB and UPN, fourteen of which air in crucial swing states. Federal election law prohibits public corporations and labor unions from airing “electioneering communication” sixty days before an election. But Sinclair dubs the anti-Kerry attackumentary “news content.”

  A cursory look at Sinclair's recent record shows which side the broadcasting company is on. This is the same Sinclair Broadcasting Group who last April cried wolf over an attempt to “influence public opinion” by forbidding its seven ABC affiliates from airing a Nightline special devoted to the soldiers killed in Iraq.

  The same Sinclair who gave $66,000 to the Republican Party in 2004.

  The same Sinclair who required weather men to read a statement supporting President Bush's war on terror in 2001.

  The same Sinclair who prevented a Madison, Wisconsin Fox affiliate from airing an advertisement by the Democratic National Committee last July.

  The same Sinclair who today forces local stations against their will to run a daily “commentary” segment by its corporate spokesman which calls the French “cheese eating surrender monkeys,” and antiwar Congressman “unpatriotic politicians who hate our military.”

  You get the picture. Can you imagine the response from the right if CBS pre-empted local programming in late October to show Fahrenheit 9/11?

  George W. Bush can't win this election based on ideas. So Karl Rove and his corporate media cronies concoct lies and distortions about Kerry's past. David Brock of Media Matters for America has sent a letter to Sinclair CEO David Smith urging him to scrap its plans. Email Smith (dsmith@sbgnet.com) yourself and sign the petition to be delivered to Sinclair and the FCC on October 15.

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  Go to Original

  Letter from David Brock to Sinclair Broadcast Group

  Sunday 10 October 2004

  David D. Smith
  President and Chief Executive Officer
  Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
  10706 Beaver Dam Road
  Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030

  Dear Mr. Smith:

  I'm writing to ask you to cancel plans, reported in the October 9 edition of the Los Angeles Times, to force Sinclair Broadcasting Group stations to preempt regular programming and broadcast a film attacking Senator John Kerry between now and the November 2 presidential election.

  According to the Times, the film, Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, “features former POWs accusing Kerry — a decorated Navy veteran turned war protester — of worsening their ordeal by prolonging the war.” The Times reported that the maker of the film, former Washington Times reporter (and former Bush administration official) Carlton Sherwood, tells viewers on the film's website: “Intended or not, Lt. Kerry painted a depraved portrait of Vietnam veterans, literally creating the images of those who served in combat as deranged, drug-addicted psychopaths, baby killers” that has endured for 30 years.

  I don't have to remind you, as the Times pointed out, that “Sinclair stations are spread throughout the country, in major markets that include Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas. … Fourteen of the 62 stations the company either owns or programs are in the key political swing stations of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where the presidential election is being closely fought.”

  As described by the Times, Sinclair's plan to air the film raises questions about whether Sinclair would be running afoul of federal regulations “requiring broadcasters to provide equal time to major candidates in an election campaign …” Provisions of the McCain-Feingold law would also appear to be at issue in your decision. The reported effort by Sinclair executives to instruct station managers to classify the film as “news,” thus skirting these political broadcasting regulations, would be a charade given its blatant anti-Kerry slant.

  I trust that in light of these concerns, you will reconsider your company's apparent decision to air “Stolen Honor.”

  Sincerely,

  David Brock
  President and CEO
  Media Matters for America

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