Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Sinclair Fraudcast Group

So I don't know if this is going to be a political thing all the time, but politics is certainly what's on my mind right now, and it probably will be for the next three weeks at least.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group, a large conservative media conglomerate, has decided to run Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal on all of their television networks. The movie was put together by the Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth, and its aim is to declare John Kerry unfit to be the commander-in-chief of the United States of America. So what's the big deal?

The SBVs are a 527 group, which is a campaign classification for political action groups unaffiliated with official campaigns. MoveOn.org is a 527 group on the other side of the aisle, stumping against Bush. Both groups have been paying lots of money to run extensive advertisements on television advancing their positions. Sinclair is poised, at this point, to preempt prime-time television on more than 60 affiliates to give the SBVs a free 90 minute spot. These affiliates don't have a choice about whether or not to run the SBV movie, and there are as yet no plans to run a counterbalancing anti-Bush or pro-Kerry movie, though such movies do indeed exist. Sinclair has made overtures toward Kerry, asking him to agree to an interview with them to go along with the movie, but Kerry's camp hasn't accepted the offer. Wisely, might I add.

What the Sinclair Broadcast Group is doing is wrong, and it's wrong for a number of reasons. Let's remember that this is the media conglomerate which refused to air the episode of Nightline when the names of the Iraq war dead were being read, dismissing it as liberal propaganda. The hypocrisy evident in comparing that incident to the current situation speaks volumes for itself.

Sure, Kerry's been invited to do an interview with the Broadcast Group, but to what avail? It's a no-win situation for the senator, seems to me. If he doesn't respond, all of the infighting starts in the Democratic party about Kerry not sticking up for himself strongly enough. If he does respond, all of a sudden he's allowed his opposition to frame the debate for a couple of days when time is precious and not on anyone's side.

The last travesty of this whole thing is that Mark Hyman, executive vice president of Sinclair, has accused the networks and the Democratic National Committee of acting like a bunch of "holocaust deniers" for not giving the SBVs more time to speak their minds. To liken a dispute over John Kerry's military service to the debate over whether or not six million Jews were killed in World War II is atrocious.

I happen to think that Senator Kerry should not do the interview. He needs to stay focused and on message, and he needs to make sure that he's allowed to frame his own side of the debate in the coming three weeks. The economy and the war in Iraq are too important for the senator to allow something this petty to bog him down. Besides, the SBVs are old news. They blew their load months ago in their TV commercials. They didn't get the press then, and for good reason. Their claims fly in the face of the military record, as well as in the face of the men who served right next to Kerry, on his boat.

Conservatives like to crow at anyone who criticizes the SBVs, saying that they're decorated veterans, and as such they've earned the right to speak. Some even go so far as to demonize those who would call the SBVs liars, for the same reason. But how, then, can it be okay for them to call Kerry (a decorated veteran, remember) a liar? The fact is that the SBVs are proud and, in many cases, decorated veterans, and they do have the right to speak their minds (though that right is accorded them by the Constitution, not by their status as veterans). We just have to keep in mind that their claims are, for the most part, unverifiable personal attacks.

I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully, to write about something else. This felt good.