Sinclair's Hyman labeled members of Congress who called for FCC investigation "censorship advocates"


In the October 28 edition of "The Point," a one-minute commentary by Sinclair Broadcast Group vice president Mark Hyman that is broadcast daily on the 62 TV stations that Sinclair Broadcast owns or operates, Hyman labeled as "censorship advocates" the 18 U.S. senators and 85 U.S. representatives who signed letters to Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell concerning Sinclair's plan to air the anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal.

But the letters signed by U.S. senators and representatives did not advocate censorship; the letters expressed concern over Sinclair's plans to air an "anti-Kerry attack before the November 2nd election" and the company's "attempt to cover-up that attack as 'news programming.'" The letters asked the FCC "to investigate the broadcasting of this anti-Kerry propaganda immediately before a presidential election by a company with a history of using public airwaves to broadcast its political positions and to determine if it is a proper use of public airwaves or if it violates current equal time policies."

Hyman also claimed that the U.S. House and Senate letters were "based on a flawed article by Elizabeth Jensen of the Los Angeles Times." Jensen reported on October 9 that Sinclair "is ordering its stations to preempt regular programming just days before the Nov. 2 election to air a film [Stolen Honor] that attacks Sen. John F. Kerry's activism against the Vietnam War, network and station executives familiar with the plan said." On October 22, Sinclair aired an hour-long program on 40 of its stations titled A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media that consisted of more than 30 minutes focused on Kerry's Vietnam War record but included only approximately five minutes of Stolen Honor.

But as Media Matters for America has noted, evidence suggests that this was not the program that Sinclair originally planned to air. Sinclair's intention to broadcast the entire film was made clear not only by news reports but also by TV listings. Journalist and blogger Joshua Micah Marshall noted on October 19 that TV listings showed that Stolen Honor was scheduled to air on Sinclair stations. On the October 22 edition of CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown, Washington Post staff writer Howard Kurtz said, "About ten days ago, one of its [Sinclair's] executives told me they planned to air the whole 42-minute Stolen Honor." In addition, Hyman defended Sinclair's decision to air the film in several news reports, including in an October 11 New York Times article; October 11 and October 12 Washington Post articles; and on the October 12 edition of CNN's American Morning.

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.
Mark Hyman
Sinclair Broadcasting, 2004 Elections
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