An Open Letter to Mark Hyman
An Open Letter to Mark Hyman:
In your recent commentary in which you reflect on your tenure doing “The Point,” you make a number of claims about your role as a public voice that simply aren’t true. Specifically, you claim your commentaries have been thoughtful, that you’ve served regular Americans by giving them a voice, and that you honored servicemen who deserved to be heard.
All of these claims are at best disingenuous mischaracterizations, and at worst out and out lies.
In fact, virtually none of your commentaries have been “thoughtful.” Thoughtfulness means considering both sides of an issue, acknowledging complexity and subtlety in issues, and engaging in self-reflection.
Not only have your comments rarely shown any of these qualities, but they’ve provided vivid examples of their opposites. You not only don’t consider the opposing side of an argument, but suggest anyone who disagrees with you is morally or ethically bankrupt. Your arguments reduce complex issues into dumbed down “I’m right; you’re wrong” contests. And you have never shown any willingness or ability to recognize that your opinions are just that: your opinions.
You talk about your trips around the country and lambaste “cultural elitists” who you claim see people who don’t live in Manhattan, LA, or DC as “white trash,” “hillbillies,” and “red necks.”
Who are these “cultural elitists?” Can you name anyone who has said anything of the sort?
Moreover, I can’t help but notice that all of the derogatory categories you list as terms “cultural elitists” use for regular Americans refer specifically to white people. Are people who suggest that Hispanics are lazy and shiftless, as you have done, not elitists?
And what could be more elitist than the attitude you and your fellow Sinclair executives have toward your audience? Your big contribution to journalism, “Newscentral TV,” is based on the premise that those of us who live in smaller media markets don’t deserve to have our own local reporters doing stories about what happens in our communities. Sinclair regularly fires a majority of local journalists, many of whom have worked in the community for years, and replaces them with one-size-fits-all prefabricated news you create in your big city studios and pipe out to the rest of the country. What could be more elitist than that?
Well, maybe your commentaries themselves. In your self-satisfaction, you demand that stations across the country run your two minutes of blather, a length of time usually greater than the amount of airtime devoted to the lead story on the local newscast. You packaged yourself as simply a commentator, not revealing that you were a Sinclair executive, that you had no journalistic background, or even that you weren’t a local figure. Not until you outed yourself through your plans to run propaganda as “news” during the 2004 campaign did most viewers learn who you were.
You take time away from the newscasts that reach regular Americans, forcing yourself onto their publicly owned airwaves so that you can spout your particular opinions, rather than allowing local voices to be heard. You don’t even allow viewers to respond to your editorials—something that all legitimate journalistic enterprises do. And then you actually have the nerve to present yourself as the champion of middle America (or at least the white portion thereof). That isn’t just chutzpah; that’s arrogance.
And it’s this arrogance that led you to throw any pretension of journalistic ethics out the window when you chose to run political propaganda as “news.” Not that showing large chunks of Stolen Honor was your first foray into trying to affect elections under the guise of journalism. Those of us who’ve looked into your past found out about your attempts to help out Republican friends and allies, such as the recently-ousted Governor Bob Ehrlich, by running hit pieces on their Democratic opponents.
Using vague and wishy-washy language, you say of the Stolen Honor fiasco:
Our viewpoints have gained widespread attention. No one had more
earned their right to speak out regarding their experiences in Vietnam than the
hundreds of Americans held prisoners of war. We spoke up when the news
gatekeepers snubbed them.
Ah, yes! Those poor snubbed anti-Kerry vets. They didn’t get any airtime did they? Only so much that many people suggest that the smear campaign launched by the Swifties torpedoed the Kerry campaign.
And as you made this limp excuse for your running propaganda as news, you showed a montage of some of the men interviewed in Stolen Honor, including a man who had illegally worked with both the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth [sic] and the Republican party at the same time. Is this the sort of honest person who has “earned his right” to slander a fellow vet for political reasons?
Of course, truth telling isn’t a trait you put much value on, is it? More than a month after the group behind Stolen Honor and the notorious Swifties had signed a pact formally connecting their groups, you went on national television and denied that there were any connections between the folks behind Stolen Honor and the Swifties.
But most damning of all is your attempt in this defense of your actions to hide behind people who serve in the military. You couch your explanation in terms of recognizing the rights of servicemen who served and were captured in Vietnam. But the truth is that here, as in so many of your commentaries, you mock the very idea of honoring military service by deciding who should and shouldn’t be honored based on your political whims.
You desecrate the record of a war hero, John Kerry, because you don’t happen to support his political views today. You mock a mother who lost her son, even going so far as to imply she didn’t truly love him, because her views on foreign policy differ from yours. When a news program decided to offer a silent and apolitical tribute to servicemen and women who gave the last full measure of devotion in service to their country, you banned it from your stations because you thought it might make people question the policies of a president you’re a fan of.
And all the while, you claim that anyone who doesn’t agree with you hates the troops and the country. You don’t have the guts to stand on your own and argue your positions on their merits. You hide behind the sanctity we place on service to our country in times of war. You hide behind the esteem we have for those that put their lives on the line. You steal their honor for your political use.
There’s a word for someone like that: a coward.
And that’s The Counterpoint.