Sinclair's swift boat fixation: DC bureau chief interrupted Kerry's ANWR news conference to ask about Corsi's “amazing accusations”

Don Hammond, the new Washington bureau chief of Sinclair Broadcast Group's News Central news operation, provoked boos at a March 15 press conference held announcing legislation to prevent oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) when he revived disproved allegations about Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) military record. Intoning that "[a] great measure of a democracy also is letting people ask questions in forums such as this," Hammond started to question Kerry about “amazing accusations” by discredited author Jerome R. Corsi, who co-wrote the anti-Kerry book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry and who recently disclosed plans to run for Kerry's U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts in 2008.

Sinclair commentator Mark Hyman has previously touted claims by the discredited anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth about Kerry's military record on “The Point,” Sinclair's two-minute conservative commentary that airs nightly on Sinclair's 62 broadcast TV stations. Hyman also promoted Corsi's forthcoming book, Atomic Iran: How The Terrorist Regime Bought The Bomb And American Politicians (WND Books, March 2005), on the February 8 edition of “The Point.”

Sinclair fired Hammond's predecessor, Jon Leiberman, after he spoke publicly about his disapproval of Sinclair's plan to broadcast the anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal several days before the 2004 presidential election. Sinclair later dropped that plan and aired a program titled A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media, which consisted of more than 30 minutes focused on Kerry's Vietnam War record, followed by less than four minutes purporting to examine President Bush's service during the Vietnam era, and a final segment on the media.

From the March 15 press conference:

HAMMOND: Senator Kerry, I'm Don Hammond from News Central. Can I ask you one question?

KERRY: Excuse me?

HAMMOND: Thank you very much. A great measure of a democracy also is letting people ask questions in forums such as this.

KERRY: Everybody's going to ask their questions, you know, and you clearly have a loud voice and will be able to get your voice --


HAMMOND: Thank you so much. And I know you shifted a little bit from ANWR to the budget, but now can I shift to Jerry Corsi, a man that's running against you --

KERRY: No, I --

HAMMOND: -- for the Senate. He's made some amazing accusations regarding your military career. Did you or did you not --

[loud booing]

KERRY: What's the next question? What's your question?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This is for Senator Cantwell --

HAMMOND: You won't take my question?

Roll Call's March 16 “Heard on the Hill” column (subscription required) noted that during the press conference, Hammond repeatedly referred to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a co-sponsor of the ANWR legislation, “as 'ma'am' instead of Senator,” in response to which Cantwell's press secretary “grabbed Hammond's arm and said, 'The next time you refer to Sen. Cantwell, it's ”Senator" not “ma'am.”'"

Media Matters for America leads, a coalition of groups and individuals protesting Sinclair's continued misuse of public airwaves to broadcast one-sided, politically charged programming without a counterpoint.