Other reviews of Sinclair’s tempered yet horribly biased broadcast are available on the web. One by the Baltimore Sun (Sinclair is based in Maryland) is good:
“Sinclair Broadcast’s program featuring material from a documentary critical of John Kerry aired Friday night, devoting as much coverage to the controversy as the film that sparked the uproar. The program contained a few minutes from the documentary, “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” as well as excerpts from a pro-Kerry documentary, interviews with veterans who support and oppose Kerry, and a segment on the impact of new media such as the Internet on politics.”
Overall, the program seemed rushed and poorly thought out. It was called a “POW Story” trying to tie together disparate elements into one hour. After the first 5 minutes, when they deperately tried to defend what they initially wanted to do, they had a somewhat coherent story for the next 10 minutes, talking about how some Vets are angry at Kerry. It degenerated after that into an incoherent mishmash of the effect of media on elections (their message: 24 hour news channels and the internet are giving people too much information, causing people to be “overloaded” with information) and the effects of the anti-war movement on vets.
They began the broadcast with a lie and swiftly made the program into an anti-anti-war message. They lied by saying they never planned on airing all of Stolen Honor with no commercial breaks. Websites that called for a boycott of Sinclair show t.v. listings immediately after the LA Times piece that announced Sinclair’s plans. T.V. listings back up LA Times’ story, showing that Sinclair did plan on showing Stolen Honor in its entirety. Sinclair then tried to turn their political activism into a first amendment argument. It’s always a smart move when, in the course of doing something controversial, you turn to the U.S. Constitution and try to make a vague argument of how personal freedoms are affected when a huge media conglomerate that tries to force political propaganda on the public airwaves is not allowed to do so.
Keep in mind that the obvious thrust of the program was to (a) show that Kerry was part of the anti-war movement and, in the course of his activism, injured veterans and (b) show that nobody talks about it. They showed a highly emotional moment in Stolen Honor where veterans accused Kerry of not only prolonging their POW status, but actually making it WORSE. They followed it up with inviting two Stolen Honor vets to debate the issue with two pro-Kerry vets. The exchange was decent. They also broadcast equal time to “Going Upriver,” the pro-Kerry documentary. Instead of broadcasting a clip that refutes the anti-Kerry vet claims, or cover other aspects of his anti-war protest activities, they chose a clip detailing how he saved some guy in a firefight. They interviewed the director of “Going Upriver,” peppering him with leading questions that usually started with “Don’t you think that…?” They interviewed the director of Stolen Honor and asked one question: “Why did you make this film?”
In the final five minutes, they interviewed veterans about the effect of the anti-war movement on their lives. Not surprisingly, all of the vets THEY interviewed said no one should protest war during war time. There was no dissenting view posed. I find it hard to believe they couldn’t find someone, anyone, with a dissenting view.
Sinclair took a beating, but they got their propaganda on the air, albeit in a tempered form. It could have been worse.