Sinclair Caves, And Aims For Balance
Pat yourself on the back: Sinclair caved.
After stirring up protest over its plans to broadcast a documentary critical of Senator John Kerry, the Sinclair Broadcast Group presented a program last night that gave short shrift to that film and offered instead a measured analysis of the debate over Mr. Kerry's Vietnam War record.
The hourlong special program, produced by the news department at Sinclair, a major financial supporter of Republican candidates and which regularly features conservative commentary on its newscasts, included as many backers of Mr. Kerry as critics.
Sinclair's producers seemed to go out of their way to create a balanced political collage in the special, called "A P.O.W. Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media."
Only about four minutes of Carlton Sherwood's anti-Kerry film, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," were included - and virtually the same amount of time was devoted to an excerpt from "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry," a film by George Butler that presents Mr. Kerry as a war hero.
The program was apparently balanced enough to satisfy a consortium of media watchdog groups, which held a telephone news conference last night to say Sinclair had acted responsibly. It also enraged a number of conservative viewers who tuned in expecting to see a hour of attacks on Mr. Kerry.
The prevailing theme of conservative viewers, as expressed on Internet Weblogs and chat rooms last night, was that Sinclair, the nation's largest local television station owner, had backed down as it saw its stock price plummet and came under intense heat from shareholder groups and advertisers for putting the company's political views ahead of its business interests.
"Sinclair has caved to pressure," wrote a poster listed as Kaferhaus on the Free Republic site, one of the largest conservative discussion forums on the Internet. "Very obviously they're running scared."
On another conservative site, Little Green Footballs, a poster identified as "mas" wrote: "Sinclair wimped out. This is more pro-Kerry than anti." The poster added, "I gave up 'Joan of Arcadia' for this?"
All Sinclair was left with was a pathetic bleating that they were misunderstood and that their First Amendment rights were affected by their attempt to sway the election for Bush with propaganda using the public airwaves.
We are still going after your licenses.