Thursday, November 04, 2004

Hyman's a Hog for Ya

In his most recent "Point," Mark Hyman complains about the cost of the recent election. In particular, he has his nose out of joint about “527” groups, mentioning two by name, and America Coming Together. You won’t be surprised to learn that the two 527s he singles out support Democrats.

You also won’t be surprised to hear that Hyman didn’t mention a leading, and arguably the best known, 527 group, Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth. Why not? Well, it’s not merely because they support Republicans (or, to be more accurate, tried to assassinate the character of one particular Democrat). It’s that Sinclair Broadcast Group (a name yet to escape Hyman’s lips during one of his commentaries) gave this 527 a huge in-kind contribution in the form of allowing them a platform for their film “Stolen Honor.”
We've noted previously that Hyman lied during a nationally televised interview when he claimed that the group behind the film had no connection to the infamous and discredited Swifties. In fact, as their name demonstrates, these two groups are in fact one and the same. If 527s are a bad thing, Sinclair is part of the problem.

Despite his selective trashing of 527s, Hyman concludes that perhaps the election price tag is simply the price of democracy. Again, we can’t feign shock at Hyman’s demagoguery of the money issue only to suggest that nothing should be changed. After all, Sinclair Broadcasting owes its (ever dwindling) profits to the relaxing of media ownership regulations by Republican politicians and political appointees. The purchase of political favors is something that’s part of the business plan of the Smith family who run Sinclair Broadcasting (indeed, using the money they make from Sinclair to
purchase favors of all sorts is something that’s part of a proud Smith family tradition). Change the system and you keep the Sinclairs of the world from buying political sway.

Hyman is right about one thing: the raw dollar total spent on elections isn’t the problem. It’s the way the money is raised, how it’s used, and the time and effort it takes to collect it. This isn’t an issue so much at the presidential level, but in congressional races, candidates must spend huge amounts of time raising money instead of dealing with government. Moreover, incumbents often face little to no challenge because prospective opponents can’t get the money necessary to compete. And as notes, the winner of an election is almost always the candidate that
spends the most money (a trend that held true in the presidential race this year). Elections become about money-grubbing rather than honest contests of ideas, and citizens often end up with literally no choice as to who to represent them because of it.

But don’t look to Hyman to lead a charge for meaningful campaign reform. He likes to play at being a populist (just as he plays at being a journalist), but Hyman and his friends at Sinclair are huge beneficiaries of precisely the system that drives up the price of running for office. He’ll bash liberal donors and then attack what limited campaign finance law we have without a trace of contradiction, but the bottom line is that Hyman likes the political money trough just the way it is, because he’s one of the many pigs feeding at it.

And that’s The Counterpoint.
P.S. Hyman mentions in his commentary. Follow his lead and head there yourself. Look up contributions by those employed by Sinclair Broadcasting Group and see what you find.


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