Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Too Little, Too Late

On many occasions, we’ve noted that Mark Hyman refuses to utter the name “Sinclair Broadcasting” during his commentaries or acknowledge that he’s a corporate vice president of Sinclair. This lack of disclosure goes hand in hand with Sinclair’s larger modus operandi: creating faux “local” news that its viewers assume originates from their community, but in fact is prefabricated in Sinclair’s Baltimore studios.

his latest commentary, Hyman goes through the motions of coming clean, but ends up being as disingenuous as always.

Hyman acknowledges that disgraced political commentator/Bush administration shill Armstrong Williams did wrong by accepting huge sums of money to promote Bush education policy. He even admits Sinclair Broadcasting’s own ties to Williams. Sort of.

Still unwilling to say “Sinclair” on air, Hyman says that Williams has appeared “on this station a few times.” Two falsehoods here: first, Williams appeared on many, but not all Sinclair stations. A number of stations that air “The Point” don’t air Williams’s show. More importantly, the stations on which he has appeared haven’t shown him “a few times.” His show has been a regular feature. Moreover, Hyman says nothing about whether Sinclair (or “this station”) will stop carrying Williams’s show.

Hyman then pulls out one of his favorite rhetorical tools, the invalid moral equivalency. Hyman breezily suggests that the Williams fiasco parallels the fact that a couple of prominent bloggers were paid by the Howard Dean campaign. This has become
a talking point for right wing voices such as Bob Novak and the Wall Street Journal. The problem is that the situations aren’t anything close to equivalent, as this article from the Columbia Journalism School's website explains. The bloggers disclosed their ties; Williams didn’t. Even more importantly, Hyman doesn’t mention the much larger issue: who paid Williams vs. who paid the bloggers. The Bush administration broke federal regulations by participating in propaganda. By suggesting the issue is simply a matter of Williams’s wrongdoing, Hyman attempts to protect the Bush administration (whose hands are much dirtier in this matter than are Williams’s) from criticism.

But then things take a turn from the simply misleading to the thoroughly bizarre. Hyman says that it’s important to reveal corporate ties, and that, “On several occasions The Point has disclosed ties its parent company has had to topics discussed on this program even though this represents my personal opinion.”

No, The Point hasn’t. Even in the context of talking about the importance of disclosure, Hyman can’t bring himself to say “Sinclair Broadcasting.” He never has. You may remember the incredible rhetorical contortions Hyman had to go through during the “Stolen Honor” debacle in an attempt to defend Sinclair without actually mentioning it by name.

Then, Hyman completely goes off the tracks. In an apparent attempt at humor, Hyman says, “Now I must disclose my ties to this issue,” accompanied by an edit of Hyman wearing a different jacket and tie (“ties” . . . get it? Hilarious). This is followed by a sentence fragment that goes nowhere: “I must disclose that the parent company of The Point.”

This is the text that appears on the transcript of The Point. We thought it was a typo, so we checked the streaming video from Newscentral. There it was again—a sentence that goes nowhere.

We’re not quite sure what’s going on here. It’s as if Hyman actually has some sort of speech impediment that prevents him from articulating the name “Sinclair.”

This tells you all you need to know about Mark Hyman’s willingness to employ deception, double standards, and hypocrisy to make his point. Even when he takes others to task for not being open about ties that affect their public statements and claiming innocence for himself, Hyman won’t tell his audience who he is or for whom he works.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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