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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Sinclair Broadcast Group and Stolen Honor - stolen minutes!?

The Sinclair Broadcast Group has felt the shareholder pressure and backed down on airing the whole of the POW film "Stolen Honor". Purportedly, the film shows veterans POW's of the Vietnam war, who were tortured as a direct result of Kerry's testimony that american soldiers had commited war crimes.

"The experience of preparing to air this news special has been trying for many of those involved," Sinclair chief executive David D. Smith said in a statement. "The company and many of its executives have endured personal attacks of the vilest nature, as well as calls on our advertisers and our viewers to boycott our stations and on our shareholders to sell their stock."
Media censorship, and burying stories has been rife, throughout political campaigning history, but hardly as blatant and obvious as at this time. When first publicised the company announced that the format was not decided. The version being put to air on Friday night will be a one hour special, on the subject of media censorhip - called 'filtering'...

The news special will focus in part on the use of documentaries and other media to influence voting, which emerged during the 2004 political campaigns, as well as on the content of certain of these documentaries. The program will also examine the role of the media in filtering the information contained in these documentaries, allegations of media bias by media organizations that ignore or filter legitimate news and the attempts by candidates and other organizations to influence media coverage.
They will only show parts of the film "Stolen Honor"...

While the news special will discuss the allegations surrounding Senator John Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activities in the early 1970s raised by a number of former POWs in "Stolen Honor," it will do so in the context of the broader discussion outlined above. The program will be hosted by Jeff Barnd,...
That sounds like a huge backdown to me...

You can view the whole film (or excerpts) at Stolenhonor.com, Transcript here, and you could do what I did, email the company at this address - comments@sbgi.net to tell them what you think...

Well maybe it looked like a backdown on the surface. Here is an interesting discussion on Sinclair's positioning and the media headlines it is generating. It sounded like a fair argument. The basic assertion of the article is that Sinclair is an overtly right leaning media group, that is using the public controversy of the film "Stolen Honor", and the apparent backdown, and the firing on one it's 'liberal' employees, to present itself publicly as a right leaning media outlet.
For how long has the political right wanted a housecleaning in the nation's newsrooms, which--according to political legend--are over-stocked with liberals? Since at least 1969. Sinclair doesn't gripe about it; Sinclair acts. It has a strategy of killing independent newsrooms, reducing their number as it buys more and more media properties. Claiming economies of scale, it gains two stations in the same market, and combines their news operations into one.
The writer then speculates on the direction that the company is headed is for monopoly media control in the newsrooms and newspapers of swing states... sounds like a familar scenario, only this time it is not with the left, but the right.

The writer ends with the question...
You tell me: on what basis is anyone in Washington going to object?

None, and that's the real point to be made from all the speculation. It is about time that some balance in media news coverage was regained. At least the Sinclair group would not be pretending to be mainstream and unbiased...

Terry Heaton comments on the article...

And that means the decline and fall of the mainstream press in America is inevitable. It is so, because the whole thing is sleight-of-hand anyway, and the people aren't as stupid as we once thought. If you cannot see this happening, you are in denial. The very people complaining about Sinclair now are those who've participated in the same thing on many different levels and in many different ways. The system is corrupt, not Sinclair. Hell, they're just players, and anybody who thinks otherwise simply hasn't read history.

The press doesn't have the right to judge journalism anymore. That's been transferred to the citizens, who are now armed with their own printing presses and television towers and have taken back "the public trust." The idea that the institution of the press is self-policing has been exposed as a self-serving illusion. Those who ask if it's too late for the media to clean up its act are missing the point. The professional media "act" has never been clean. From the famous William Randolph Hearst "Puff Graham" note that launched the career of Billy Graham to Cronkhite's proclamation of "That's the way it is," the press has always been agenda driven. That it has become glaringly obvious now should come as a surprise to no one.

The public will now pick and choose the reporting they want to hear and believe. Take blogging as an example of the trend that is appearing. People want to read pieces that are opinioned, and to take information and perspectives from multiple sources. The Sinclair group if they do become the right wing monopoly that Jay Rosen at Presslink puts forward will be only one of many sources people will listen to. Freedom of Speech may be liberated after all!

Note: the commentary on this article is first rate.

LINKS: PressThink, Donatacom, ProfessorBainbridge.com (excellant commentary), BUFFALOg, Obsidian Wings, blog.rpeeck.com

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