Thursday, January 06, 2005

We Love the Sound of Hyman Whining in the Morning. . . It Sounds Like Victory

We’re not buying it, Mark.

You’re pretty good at playing dumb, but we know you understand exactly how faulty your apples and oranges comparisons are in
your recent commentary defending “The Point.” We know you don’t believe your own spin.

Not that we don’t understand why you’re spinning the way you are. The coalition of groups educating viewers and sponsors of the true nature of Sinclair and “The Point” is formidable. While you call them “obscure,”the fact is that has over two million members. Media Matters has become in a matter of months a renowned watchdog group (headed up, by the way, by a former right-wing conservative commentator who has come to his senses). And Robert Greenwald produced “Outfoxed,” a highly successful documentary on Fox news. And they’re having an effect. The day of your commentary, Staples announced it would no longer advertise on Sinclair stations because of viewer disgust with your commentaries. If I were in your shoes, I’d be spinning like mad, too.

And so here at The Counterpoint, we’ll play along. We’ll pretend that you actually believe that what you do on television and what news anchors do is parallel. We’ll also pretend that you really believe there’s a left-wing media conspiracy (despite all evidence to the contrary). We’ll pretend that you actually buy your own commentary, and set you straight, since you seem to be missing the point.

The point is that you force local stations to use publicly owned airwaves during a local newscast to air your personal political beliefs.

The point is that you, unlike everyone else you name in your commentary, are not a journalist; you’re simply a corporate vice president abusing your authority to hijack a newscast to spout your personal beliefs. Even Rupert Murdoch doesn’t abuse his viewers by using his network as a personal soapbox.

The point is that while everyone knows who news anchors are and why they’re appearing on television, you hide your association with Sinclair Broadcasting, hoping that viewers will assume you’re simply a local voice.

The point is that Couric, Jennings, et al are news anchors or hosts who deliver news stories. They don’t assert that members one political party or the other “hate our troops,” trade in racist rhetoric, or slander entire nations whose leaders they disagree with (all of which are regular components of your commentaries).

The point is despite your constant insinuations that the individuals you name are part of a massive left-wing media conspiracy, you never offer any evidence of this. Can you give us even a single instance of a time when Katie Couric, Peter Jennings, or Tom Brokaw has slandered George Bush (or anyone else) in the way you routinely did John Kerry in the run up to the election?

The point is that the mainstream media, whom you constantly assert has a left-wing bias, completely acquiesced to the Bush administration’s drive to war, never questioning its assertions and happily waving the flag during the war. Can you provide any evidence at all that there’s been a left-leaning bias that parallels or makes up for this?

The point is that 80% of the pundits who appear on news channels to discuss issues and give their opinions are conservative. 80%, Mark! In what way does this constitute a left-wing bias?

The point is, Mark, that even if every news anchor was an active member of the Communist party, on-air personalities don’t make the calls about what stories to cover or how to cover them. Corporate officers (like you) make these calls, and their interests are conservative, not liberal. Sinclair news personality Jon Lieberman certainly didn’t have an opportunity to voice his opinions on the air—he served as a corporate mouthpiece, and when he voiced the first hint of concern about this, you fired him.

The point is that when reporters report facts, that’s not bias, even if the facts might not wholly support your political causes. You remind us of the Daily Show bit in which George Bush charges that the facts in Iraq are “un-American” because they undermine his position. Of course, since you’ve said publicly that simply reporting that a car bombing took place in Iraq constitutes a liberal bias, anything short of a Bush/Cheney campaign ad will be guilty of being left-wing propaganda in your world.

The point is that you don’t simply offer your opinion. You use faulty logic, name-calling, and bold-faced lies in your commentaries. There are plenty of conservative commentators who offer their opinions in ways that respect the public forum by playing by the basic rules of fair and honest discourse. They might be wrong, but they voice their opinions in the right way. You don’t.

The point is that you and the Smith family who own Sinclair put your own extreme political values ahead of the rights and responsibilities you have to your stockholders and your viewers. As a result, your stock has become nearly worthless, and your stations are more often than not at the bottom of the ratings in local markets.

The point is that the airwaves are not owned by you or Sinclair. You’re using (and abusing) a collectively and publicly held resource to advance a personal agenda.

The point is that most local broadcasters and newspapers, when they offer editorials, invite readers, viewers, or other local figures to respond in a similar forum. You confine your “equal time” to hand picked comments that you air on the night with the lowest viewership, Saturday.

The point is that those of us who are against Sinclair’s misuse of public airwaves do write to the troops. We also send them care packages and buy them supplies the Bush administration hasn’t provided. Many of us have friends and family who are in Iraq. And our concern over the troops is one of the many reasons we find jingoistic rhetoric so nauseating, particularly coming from someone like you, who supported sending troops to fight and die for dishonest reasons, who slandered a veteran while openly campaigning for a president who lied to the troops and to the American people about the need for war, who aired propaganda just before an election and labeled it "news," and who refused to allow a simple tribute to those who had died serving our country (Nightline’s “The Fallen”) to be aired on your stations.

The point is that we deserve better than “The Point.” And we’re going to get it.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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