Koppel reports, Wallace decidesMay 3, 2004 1:14 AM EDT ››› SHANT MESROBIAN
FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace ended a discussion about ABC's Nightline to announce that next Sunday, May 9, his FOX Broadcasting Network show will provide the "context" Wallace said was lacking when Nightline devoted an entire broadcast to reading the names of the more than 700 U.S. troops who have died in the Iraq war. Wallace's roundtable discussion featured FOX News managing editor and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume, who previously worked for ABC; Washington Post staff writer Ceci Connolly; NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams; and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol. Only Kristol -- a neo-conservative who was an outspoken proponent of the Iraq war -- strongly criticized ABC's Nightline broadcast. Yet Wallace abruptly broke in:
After listening to all the debate, then watching the show, we think the folks at Nightline made a mistake this week listing all the brave men and women who have died in Iraq, but without providing the context of what they went halfway around the world to do. So next week, we here at Fox News Sunday are going to put together our own list. A list of what we've accomplished there, through the blood, sweat, and yes, lives of our military. We think the point is not just that those hundreds of troops died, but what they died for. And we hope you'll watch next week.
Wallace, previously with ABC News (where he occasionally substituted for host Ted Koppel on Nightline), was of course not Nightline's only critic. Last week, following word of ABC's plan for the April 30 Friday-night broadcast, Sinclair Broadcast Group -- the nation's largest owner of TV stations -- announced in a written statement that it would not allow its affiliates to air the program and described Nightline and Koppel as "motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq."
While the Wallace panel discussed Nightline's alleged political motives, Sinclair's political connections went unmentioned.
Not only are Sinclair's top executives major contributors to the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, but the company has a history of offering its viewers only one side of political debate. The Center for American Progress has documented evidence of Sinclair's political agenda, including: refusing to air an ad that was critical of President George W. Bush in July 2003; producing in-house conservative content for its affiliates; and requiring affiliates to convey "full support" for Bush in September 2001.