Thursday, October 14, 2004

Sinclair Broadcast Group displaying blatantly partisan and divisive behavior

On October 22, just days before the November 2 election, Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation's largest owner of local TV stations and which reaches 25% of American homes, has ordered its 62 TV stations to preempt its regular prime time programming to air a 90-minute commercial-free politically partisan attack against presidential contender John Kerry for his early activist work against the Vietnam War. The company has no stated plans to air a pro-Kerry program to balance the Kerry bash. In what therefore is probably an illegal corporate political contribution to the Bush campaign, Sinclair intends to try to skirt campaign contribution laws by claiming the documentary entitled "Stolen Honor" is actually news and therefore exempt from campaign regulations.

Secretary of State Colin Powell's son Michael, who heads the FCC, pleads that his hands are tied because there is no precedent in law that would enable him to prevent the broadcast.

Sinclair's executives are more exclusively Republican in their contributions than any other radio and TV broadcasters, giving 97 percent of their more than $67,000 in political contributions to GOP candidates in 2004.

As further evidence of Sinclair's political leanings, after 9/11, the company required their affiliates to express complete allegiance to the Bush Administration on the air.

On April 30 Sinclair refused to allow the showing of ABC's Nightline, wherein each of America's war dead was named. Sinclair claimed at the time that the naming of the dead was too political and would undermine the President's war effort. When the program aired, ratings for Nightline for the stations that did carry it jumped because people in fact wanted to see such a tribute to our fallen soldiers.

Sinclair is going out on a limb in broadcasting "Stolen Honor" by blatantly giving President Bush the equivalent of a huge campaign contribution. SBGI, Sinclair's stock has been dropping for months and is still seeking a bottom. Sinclair hopes that the Bush FCC will eventually allow them to control two stations in each city instead of just one.

Internet activists, outraged that such an obviously partisan and unbalanced 90-minute Bush advertisement is being aired just days before the election, are lodging their complaints at every level, urging investment managers to consider divestment, and organizing local protests against Sinclair stations and boycotts against Sinclair advertisers.

Carlton A. Sherwood, writer/producer of the film, formerly
worked as Special Media Advisor to the Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan Administration and Broadcast Communications Director for Homeland Security chief Gov. Tom Ridge. The Bush administration has selected Sherwood to create and manage a new federal website aimed at first responders (police officers, firefighters, etc.).
A relatively early example of Sherwood criticizing Kerry on this issue is a Fox News article from March 2004. In it, Sherwood is quoted as saying: "He knew as an officer that those were lies. It never happened... He was principally responsible for cementing the image of Vietnam veterans as drugged-out psychopaths who were totally unrestrained and who were a murderous hoard." [13]

It seems not to matter to Mr. Sherwood that the so-called lies he says Kerry told have actually been well substantiated as historical fact in the years since his testimony before U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.

Sherwood also worked for the Washington Times, owned by Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon. His purported investigation of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, Inquisition: The Persecution and Prosecution of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, offers us a preview of the manner in which Sherwood's purported independent journalism is finally rendered.
In a story on this book, the PBS television series Frontline obtained a copy of a letter addressed to Moon. The letter was written by James Gavin, a Moon aide. Gavin tells Moon he reviewed the "overall tone and factual contents" of Inquisition before publication and suggested revisions. Gavin adds that the author "Mr. Sherwood has assured me that all this will be done when the manuscript is sent to the publisher." Gavin concludes by telling Moon, "When all of our suggestions have been incorporated, the book will be complete and in my opinion will make a significant impact.... In addition to silencing our critics now, the book should be invaluable in persuading others of our legitimacy for many years to come."[1]
View the October 13 Democracy Now! report for coverage of the issue.

John Kerry Then: Hear Kerry's Historic 1971 Testimony Against the Vietnam War
(Democracy Now!)

Other links include:

Sinclair's Partisan Ploy Cries Out for Equal Time (FAIR)

Anti-Kerry film ignites new row (BBC quick overview article)

Sinclair Plays Fast and Loose with the News
Sinclair Fiddles While the FCC Sleeps

Media control: Sinclair Broadcast Group
Disinfopedia: Media control: Stolen_Honor:_Wounds_That_Never_Heal

The official movie website