If the stunt that Sinclair Broadcasting Group is pulling isn't against the law, it ought to be. Sinclair, owner of more American television stations than any other company, has ordered all 62 of its holdings -- which collectively reach a quarter of American households -- to suspend normal programming for one evening just before the upcoming presidential election. The stations are instead to air a one-hour conservative diatribe against Sen. John Kerry. This is a flagrant and cynical abuse of the public's airwaves for a partisan political purpose, an action that should put Sinclair's federal broadcast licenses in jeopardy. For comparison, imagine that WCCO's owner, CBS, ordered it to broadcast Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."
The Strib seems to have forgotten a miniscule thing called the 1st Amendment. Says something about free speech or some such thing. Guess what boys and girls, Sinclair has the same right to editorialize and present their point of view (if that's what they actually are doing - Fox interviewed a representative of Sinclair who pointed out that the content of the program has yet to be decided) as the Star Trib does. If people object to the content, no one is forcing them to watch, and the channel button isn't far away. Perhaps the Strib's editors are just envious of the size of Sinclair's audience.
The editorial then goes on to describe the film "Stolen Honor" as a conservative diatribe, and attempts to justify why it is far worse than Michael Moore's anti-Bush Fahrenhit 9/11.
Indeed, Moore's film, while avowedly anti-Bush, is tame compared to the so-called documentary Sinclair plans to broadcast. "Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal" focuses on Kerry's antiwar activities 30 years ago. A Web site for the film says it exposes Kerry's "record of betrayal." In the film, one Vietnam POW asserts that Kerry "committed an act of treason. He lied, he besmirched our name and he did it for self-interest. And now he wants us to forget." More than a dozen of the television stations required to air this screed are in the key battleground states of Wisconsin, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
In other words, this film is worse than F 9/11 because it questions Kerry's service, and some of the stations broadcasting it cover battleground states where it might have an impact. Do I need to go into how lame and hypocritical this is? The Strib had no objections to and in fact endorsed the anti-Bush lies and propaganda of "Fahrenheit 9/11" being shown nationwide, not to mention Michael Moore's anti-Bush speaking tour. What is their problem with a dissenting point of view? Heck, Sinclair even offered Senator Kerry a chance to rebut, unlike Moore who evades anyone who would challange him about his movie.
When Sinclair makes the claim that the program is a news program, the Strib ridicules the claim by saying that 'it wasn't produced by any creditable news organization". Credible like say, CBS? The fact of the matter is, that if the major media had given the accusations of the Swift Vets a proper hearing, and devoted the same resources to investigating their claims as they did to the President's National Guard service, this planned broadcast wouldn't be creating such a stir. The Strib then goes on to restate its initial complaint, that Sinclair shouldn't be doing this because it's wrong to use the public airwaves for political purposes. I've got news for the Strib: as long as Sinclair obeys the rules, they can broadcast whatever they want. It's called free speech. Get used to it.