Monday, December 04, 2006

And That's The Counterpoint

And so “The Point” is done, going out with a whimper rather than a bang.

Hyman’s last commentary took one last Parthian shot at John Kerry, repeating the canard that in Vietnam, Kerry shot a “wounded soldier fleeing the field of battle” (stop hating the troops, Mark!). We also have a mention of the many “major awards” garnered by “The Point,” (no mention of the fact that the awards the segment won were “pay-for-praise” awards in which virtually anyone who submits the required paperwork and meets a minimal standard of quality gets an award).

I’d love to provide a link to the commentary, but almost as soon as Hyman delivered his final “Point,” the website took everything connected with “The Point” segment down.

Ultimately, what Hyman said in his last final bit of blathering isn’t as important as the fact that he’s off the air. While one shouldn’t make too much of this one small victory, it’s important to acknowledge the symbolic importance of Hyman’s ignominious departure.

The communication theorist Jurgen Habermas writes that the role of the public sphere in a democracy is, ideally, to be an open forum where people engage in rational discourse that acknowledges differences and attempts to forge consensus. Part of this public sphere is the media, whose main purpose is to scrutinize those in power and report accurately the facts necessary for an informed public discussion of the issues of the day.

As Habermas has noted, the situation today is far from this ideal, particularly in regard to the media, who increasingly operate to protect the private interests of their owners rather than acting as a public corrective on private interests of those in power.

I have a hard time imagining a better example of this degeneration of the public sphere than Sinclair Broadcasting and Mark Hyman. Sinclair’s tactics involve gutting local news organizations and replacing them with pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all “news” to maximize corporate profits. In the process, they strip away an important part of the public sphere in the communities in which they set up shop.

It would be bad enough if Sinclair simply took away from the public sphere in this way in pursuit of economic interests, but they distort the public sphere through their unashamed lobbying for their own narrow political interests (which are, of course, connected to an extent with their economic interests).

We have the owners of Sinclair giving tens of thousands of dollars almost exclusively to Republican candidates. They’ve created their own corporate PAC, which also gives money almost exclusively to Republican candidates. We know that Sinclair executives have used their journalistic resources to support candidates of their choice in elections. We also know they’ve given illegal “gifts in kind” to candidates they support (in the form of free helicopter rides). And they’ve engaged in quid pro quo relationships with the now-lame duck governor of Maryland.

We know that they’ve made major decisions on what to cover and how based on the political interests of the owners. Sinclair refused to provide its viewers with network programming when that programming was deemed (inexplicably) to be politically biased (i.e., the refusal to air ABC’s “The Fallen”). Yet, they chose to air large chunks of a propaganda film that attacked a candidate with whom they disagreed and labeled it “news” in an attempt to influence an election (i.e., the Stolen Honor fiasco).

And then, of course, we have Hyman himself, whose personal soapbox, “The Point,” often took up more broadcast time than the lead story on the news had. That would be bad enough, but Sinclair forced its stations to carry Hyman, regardless of the local community’s desires and needs. Rather than free and open discourse, “The Point” gave us a closed, monopolistic, and self-interested monologue.

Rationality? You didn’t find it on “The Point,” which regularly engaged in ad hominem attacks, deck stacking, appeals to fear, and a nearly endless number of other stock propaganda techniques.

Acknowledging differences and forging consensus? Again, “The Point” did the opposite. Hyman regularly dehumanized and smeared any who disagreed with him, saying that they weren’t simply mistaken or wrong, but were bad people who hated their country and fellow citizens. He wasn’t even above suggesting that people he considered antagonists were criminals or traitors.

All this would be bad enough, but it was all done not simply through the media, but through the publicly owned airwaves—airwaves owned by the people of the United States as a means of creating a thoroughly public sphere. Sinclair and Hyman appropriated these airwaves to advance their own private economic and political agenda, and did so in a way that demonstrably impoverished the public sphere.

The disappearance of “The Point” is only a small move back toward a more humane, civil, and productive public sphere. There is still much to be done in terms of rehabilitating this crucial part of our social existence, including making mainstream journalism more accountable to the truth than to its corporate interests, holding public officials to higher standards in their own public discourse, keeping alternative forms of media (such as the Internet) truly free and open to all, reinstating the fairness doctrine for broadcast media, and turning back the tide of media consolidation and conglomeration.

But we’ll take our victories where we can get them, and this is a welcome and wonderful first step, no matter how small it might be.

In closing, I just want to thank all of you out there who’ve read and contributed to this blog. It’s been a wonderfully affirming and exciting experience to have this little hobbyhorse of mine become something that has brought me in contact with so many thoughtful, insightful people.

Thanks in particular to those of you who’ve left comments and emailed me—you’ve kept me honest and kept me motivated. Special thanks to my friends at Iowans for Better Local Television (IBLTV) in Iowa City for their early and continued support, and their tireless efforts to make real changes on a local level. Thanks also to regular commentators and readers, some of whom I know in real life, and some of whom I know only via this blog. Special shout outs to Todd and John H. in Iowa City (buckle down!), Bradley, Hyman’s Turtle, and that tireless poster, “Anonymous.” And Mike B., I think I’ll miss you most of all! We busted Hyman!

Some of you have asked about the future of this blog. For now, it will go on sabbatical, ready to swing back into action if/when Sinclair-related news comes up or Hyman reappears. In the meantime, I’ll likely start up a blog that casts at least a slightly wider net but which has essentially the same purpose: being a watchdog keeping an eye on certain aspects of public discourse. I doubt I’ll start that before the end of the year, but probably not long after that, I’ll be getting the itch to take up my mouse and keyboard and blog anew.

If you want to reach me directly, you can email me at If you like, I’ll send you an email whenever I get my next blog up and running. I’d love to have you stop by. Also, please let me know if you have any tips or info related to Sinclair or Mark Hyman. Let us be ever vigilant!

Thanks again everyone!

And that’s been The Counterpoint.


At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Comrade Ted,

Thanks for all of your erudite and sometimes just plain amusing reports (with the amusement often coming from the ill-formed ideas of "Hate The Troops" Hyman).

One little Sinclair nonsense that you left off your long list (although you've mentioned it before)...

It goes like this:

1. Sinclair's CEO gets busted by Baltimore area police for getting a blow-job from a prostitute while in driving in his company's Mercedes (see:

2. Somehow, CEO Smith manages a "sweet deal" of prostitution restitution by GETTING HIS STATIONS TO AIR PUBLIC SERVICE ADS!
That is Smith pays no personal debt (aside from blogs like this noting this nonsense of the privileged).

With a CEO like that, no surprise SBG ends up as a low-rate, no-news, propaganda distributor.

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I briefly wandered into Gollum's Cave (er, Mike Thayer's blog) and noted that you doubled the amount of posts to his blog by letting His Most Thayerish know that relative to Hyman, you "won".

Do you think Thayer would be uh, gracious enough to admit that the whole Loudmouth Hyman crap failed?

For that matter, perhaps Hyman's demise is a harbinger of the defeat of Sauron's many minions. Maybe Rushites will see the light. Maybe O'Reilly's troops will, orc-like, waddle away from the radio and Fox broadcasts.

Who knows? Perhaps the poisonous fumes from Mordor will thing out, and we will see a rebirth (?)

What sayest thou?

At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to thank you for taking the time to refute the one-sided daily does of corporate right-wing propaganda that Sinclair has tried to force-feed its audiences. I got rid of my TV about three years ago but unfortunately have been subjected to Hyman's crap at work. I was elated to learn he is discontinuing The Pointless drivel. His attacks on Kerry during the election were shameless and destroyed the credibility of every local news station on which it appeared. He is a wimpy boy version of Limbaugh, unable to take the heat or stand any kind of dissenting opinion. I guess that is why he is running away now like the little girlie man he is, chastened by the electorate's shunning of his candidates in the election. We will look to you to keep him straight if he reappears.
In closing, I urge everyone who was subjected to Hyman to contact their local Sinclair affiliate and tell them that you objected to them airing Hyman. I think it is probably the bottom line that has made them take him off the air. With Democrats back in control and the public waking up to the Iraq fiasco, continuing to air Hyman was clearly shooting themselvesin the foot.

To summarize, Hyman is a girlie man who can't take it. Thanks for exposing him as such.

At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I thought I'd cut and paste this opinion piece that came from "The Other Paper" out of Columbus Ohio... (just to make your valedictory posts a little more complete)...

At 6, there is no ‘Point’
Sinclair’s Mark Hyman calls it quits
Novmeber 23, 2006

Farewell, cheese-eating surrender monkeys: Hyman delivering a commentary

If not for the fact that he somehow maintains a straight face no matter what he’s saying, viewers would naturally assume that Sinclair Broadcast Group commentator Mark Hyman was some kind of left-wing parody of a right-wing blowhard.

Hyman, whose “The Point” commentaries have aired during NewsCenter on channels 6 and 28 along with four dozen other Sinclair stations across the nation, has called the French “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” and has derided the media for missing all the good news in Iraq.

Hyman calls the Democrats “the cut, run and surrender crowd” and refers to the American Civil Liberties Union as the “Anti-Children Litigation Union” or the “Anti-American Criminal Liberties Union.”

When his company’s 2004 plan to air a film attacking John Kerry’s service in Vietnam drew fire, Hyman said critics were on par with “Holocaust deniers.”

But Hyman’s five-year run as a commentator is coming to an end next Thursday. Hyman, whose full-time assignment at Sinclair has been to prepare commentaries, told The Baltimore Sun that he needed to “focus more on family activities and recharge my batteries.”

He said creating the commentaries, which average 225 words—218 if you don’t count “And that’s The Point. I’m Mark Hyman”—have left him “exhausted.”

With Hyman stepping off his soapbox, Sinclair is discontinuing “The Point.” Hyman reportedly will be reassigned within the company.

In a press release, Sinclair CEO David Smith said that Hyman’s “in-depth research and exposure of issues that the traditional media don’t report have hopefully raised the public’s level to dig deeper and question what they’re reading or hearing.”

While we won’t have Hyman around to help us raise our level of digging deeper, Hyman is not ending his run quietly.

Days before and after the midterm election, Hyman declared Democrats the obvious choice of terrorists. That’s because Democrats believe “terrorist leaders will somehow overlook the U.S. and instead attack Bolivia or Aruba.”

And in yet another curious case of right-wing fascination with the North American Man/Boy Love Association, Hyman focused three consecutive commentaries on the group this fall. And he did so without even mentioning fellow NAMBLA devotee Ken Blackwell.

Hyman, apparently firm in his belief that the jury is still out on this whole NAMBLA thing, asserted in the first commentary that “what they do is wrong” and said in the second that NAMBLA is full of “evil monsters.”

On the third night, he reaffirmed that he did indeed still consider them “evil monsters.”

At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on VH-Day Ted!

With Hyman going down in flames just as the American electorate seemed to wake from its collective stupor at the last possible instant, I feel like we have just successfully delivered a breach pregnancy that has lasted over three years now! Or, maybe it was akin to putting a child through college, after all, you certainly "took Hyman to school" on more occassions than I can count!

The fact is, unlike Brownie, you actually did do "a heck of a job" of bustin' Hyman and getting a particularly nasty little Neo-Fascist off of our airwaves, and for that we all owe you a huge debt of gratitude and a whole bunch of free drinks.

So, here's to you Ted, you deserve all the credit, the rest of us were just along for the ride as spectators to cheer you on and to give you some moral support to continue the good fight. And what a fight it was, it was like watching Ali in his prime, Hyman never laid a glove on you, with the possible exception of a low blow or two that lost him credibility points.

I have been deeply involved in several races here in South Carolina (Tommy Moore's campaign for governor, Lee Ballenger's attempt to take the SC third district US Congressional seat and several state and local races) all to no avail I might add, but it never kept me from reading each and every "Counterpoint" post several times.

The sheeple of South Carolina, and most of the south, refused be a part of the progressive blue wave of change that swept over the rest of the country, and instead decided to continue pulling this state and this region rightward, backward and downward. I remain committed however, to dragging this state, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the twenty-first century in 2008!

Thanks for the ride Ted, it was great! Hopefully, Hyman has been permanently relegated to his proper place in the trash bin of history - somebody close the lid quick and we can take turns sitting on it!

Thanks again Ted,
Mike B. in SC

P.S. I would like to know what you're up to in the future, especially if you decide to take on another of the many right-wing, Neo-Fascist propagandists spreading fertilizer. I'll send you a message with my email address to your hotmail account.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Thanks Mike & company! Yes, I saw that piece on Hyman from Columbus as well. It's nice to see others joining us in our sock-hop on Hyman's grave.

I wouldn't hold my breath on pestilent Modor fumes thinning out dramatically soon, although in the wake of the recent elections, I'm hopeful that things are at least moving that way. Note, for example, that O'Liely's ratings are going down, while Keith Olberman's are growing. And perhaps with some actual debate going on in Washington rather than rubber stamping the administrtion's policies, we'll slowly inch back to having a public that expects and demands actual arguments being put forward on the issues of the day.

And yes, I couldn't help but drop a note to our friend Mike. Probably not the classiest thing to do, but once he started going around the web and posting idiotic faux-liberal posts pretending to be me and linking to "The Counterpoint," I figured the gloves were pretty much off (especially after I helped him track down someone who was pulling a similar trick on him). Ultimately, though, I think folks like Mike probably deserve more pity than scorn.

Still, it was sort of satisfying to proclaim victory on his turf! ;-)

At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't know if it's just my computer or not, but it looks like SickOfSpin has possibly closed shop!

If that's really true, then more than one right-wing looney has bitten the dust.

Too bad we still have Chimpy in the White House, making more of a mess for us all.

At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny that. I remember working for Sinclair when The Point started. We'd actually sneak it after the last commercial break so that it wouldn't be a part of the regular news program. We were told, in no uncertain terms, that it was the most important element in our news, and that it could not be dropped, and that we had to make it a prominent segment.

I also remember having to do promos where our news anchors had to voice their support for George Bush.


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