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Sinclair: 'Attackumentary' = News

This column from The Nation was written by Ari Berman.

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.

By Ari Berman
Reprinted with permission from The Nation