Friday, April 30

McCain: Sinclair Broadcasting Is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

Spank away, Senator...

McCain Calls Nightline Nix 'Deeply Offensive'

The decision by Sinclair Broadcast Group to pre-empt tonight's Nightline show featuring a reading of the names of those killed so far In Iraq drew a new detractor today - Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona.

In a letter to the president of the group, Mr. McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam and is a leading congressional voice on military issues, called the decision to block the broadcast on the company's ABC affiliates "deeply offensive."

"There is no valid reason for Sinclair to shirk its responsibility in what I assume is a very misguided attempt to prevent your viewers from completely appreciating the extraordinary sacrifices made on their behalf by Americans serving in Iraq," Mr. McCain wrote. "War is an awful, but sometimes necessary business. Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves."

Officials of the group, one of the largest owners of television stations in the nation, have objected to the Nightline program, saying it was a veiled political effort to undermine the war. Mark Hyman, the vice president of corporate relations for Sinclair and a conservative commentator, told the New York Times' Bill Carter on Thursday that the Nightline broadcast represents biased journalism. "Mr. Koppel's reading of the fallen will have no proportionality," he said. The company intends to broadcast its own special on Iraq.

"I supported the president's decision to go to war in Iraq, and remain a strong supporter of that decision," Mr. McCain's letter said. "But every American has a responsibility to understand fully the terrible costs of war and the extraordinary sacrifices it requires of those brave men and women who volunteer to defend the rest of us."
Sinclair - via the PR newswires of course - responds to McCain rather tepidly, as if getting airtime on their stations is some kind of honor.

Dear Senator McCain:

I am writing to respond to your letter to me regarding Sinclair Broadcast
Group's decision not to air this evening's episode of "Nightline."

Let me begin by saying that no organization more fully supports our
military than Sinclair. In no way was our decision intended to show any
disrespect to the brave members of our military, particularly those who have
sacrificed their lives in service of our country. To the contrary, our
decision was based on a desire to stop the misuse of their sacrifice to
support an anti-war position with which most, if not all, of these soldiers
would not have agreed. [...]

Sinclair's news coverage during the last year has reported on all aspects
of the war in Iraq, including the tragic loss of lives of military combatants.
In fact, we will be replacing "Nightline" this evening with a balanced report
addressing both sides of this controversy. It is worth noting that
"Nightline" and its host, Ted Koppel, have ignored repeated requests from
Sinclair to comment on their decision regarding the content of tonight's

It is "Nightline's" failure to present the entire story, however, to which
Sinclair objects. "Nightline" is not reporting news; it is doing nothing more
than making a political statement. In simply reading the names of our fallen
heroes, this program has adopted a strategy employed by numerous anti-war
demonstrators who wish to focus attention solely on the cost of war. In fact,
lest there be any doubt about "Nightline's" motivation, both Mr. Koppel and
"Nightline's" executive producer have acknowledged that tonight's episode was
influenced by the Life Magazine article listing the names of dead soldiers in
Vietnam, which article was widely credited with furthering the opposition to
the Vietnam war and with creating a backlash of public opinion against the
members of the U.S. military who had proudly served in that conflict. [...]

I hope that this letter has adequately addressed your concerns and
explained why Sinclair has taken this action. I would welcome the opportunity
to discuss this with you in greater detail. In addition, if you are
available, we would be delighted to provide you with a chance to be part of
our program this evening discussing this issue.

Sincerely yours,

David D. Smith
I think McCain can spot a political statement a mile away, Dave. And no bigger political statement is being made than your decision to not air this broadcast. If this is your idea of serving your audience, hand in your license. You're not. You're forcing your audience to put on the same blinders you're wearing, and it's insulting.

Man, if there's one thing that's got to be worse than someone seeing a political agenda that's not there, it's someone who imposes their own in its place. This is what they do. The SCLM.