Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Point: Contrary to Public Interest

Last year, Sinclair refused to honor servicemen and women who died in Iraq.

In “Sinclair-gate,” the executives at Sinclair refused to allow their ABC affiliates to run “The Fallen,” a special episode of Nightline that showed photos of each American soldier who had died in Iraq. Sinclair executive Barry Faber said at the time that, “We find it to be contrary to public interest.”

Right. Mark Hyman was a bit more honest about the reasons for not airing the tribute. He claimed that the broadcast was designed to embarrass President Bush because it occurred within a couple of days of Bush’s premature “mission accomplished” speech. Hyman insisted that the timing of the broadcast showed that Ted Koppel and ABC were biased against the president.

But Hyman’s protestations revealed far more about him and his fellow Sinclair executives. Whatever ABC’s motivations were (or weren’t), Sinclair had the choice between honoring fallen American soldiers and protecting the president from embarrassment. They chose the latter.

This says it all about Sinclair’s attitudes toward the troops. As we’ve pointed out many times before, Hyman and those at Sinclair pose as champions of American servicemen and women, but they only follow through to the extent this posturing is consistent with supporting George Bush (to whom so many Sinclair executives have given so much money). But it’s become more and more difficult to reconcile support of the troops with support of the administration that sent them into harm’s way under false pretenses, in too few a number, with too little protection, and with no planning for getting out. When these conflicts arise, Mark Hyman and Sinclair consistently choose the administration over the men and women on the ground.

The response to Sinclair-gate was overwhelming. In huge numbers, people across America voiced outrage that Sinclair would choose partisan politics over honoring the fallen. Even
Republican Senator John McCain offered scorching criticism of Sinclair’s decisions.

This year, Sinclair has been shamed into decency and is running
this year’s installment of the Nightline tribute. In a disingenuous statement, Sinclair claims that their decision is based on the fact that the tribute is being run on Memorial Day weekend rather than during the “sweeps” rating period.

But Hyman has already let all of us see the man behind the curtain when it comes to Sinclair decision-making. This Memorial Day, Hyman offered
an empty tribute to those who are fighting in the “Global War on Terror.” But when given a clear cut choice between supporting Bush or supporting the troops, Sinclair executives put their mouth where their money is.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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