Monday, June 20, 2005

An Open Letter to Mark Hyman

Dear Mr. Hyman:

I was pleased to get another mention in your commentary, “The Point.” Including a comment from me in your most recent edition of your “Mailbag” segment was a pleasant surprise. Given that your last mention of me in your commentary ended up causing Sinclair to take the unusual (and perhaps unprecedented) step of deleting the entire text of one of your commentaries from the website, I think it valiant of you to get back on the horse.

I do want to clear up a few issues however. First, you quote me as saying “Is Mark Hyman a man of principle? Hardly. In fact, he’s a liar.” Indeed I said that, but not in a viewer letter. That remark appeared on my blog, The Counterpoint ( While I often have sent in copies of my post to as viewer mail, I haven’t done that much of late, and the post you quote was not sent to you as feedback (at least not by me).

Having said that, I’m fine with you using quotations from my blog. On the contrary, I encourage it! I consider any text there to be in the public domain, and you certainly don’t need my permission to use it. However, in fairness to your viewers, it’s only proper for you to accurately cite your material, and should you choose to use excerpts from my blog, you should cite them as coming from that source and not lump them into your “viewer mail” segment (unless, of course, I’ve sent them in myself, which I will try to remember to do more regularly from now on).

Secondly, you lump my quotation in with a number of general statements giving negative opinions about you and your commentaries. In the case of my comment, however, you take it out of context. The post in which that comment appeared concerned your commentary about PACs and your claim that your stand on them was based on “principle,” not business. I said you lied because in that commentary you A) said your stance on PACs wasn’t based on business while not acknowledging that Sinclair Broadcasting had collaborated with a PAC responsible for distributing “Stolen Honor” when Sinclair broadcasted significant portions of the film under the guise of “news;” B) that at the time of the “Stolen Honor” fiasco you told Deborah Norville during an interview that the group behind “Stolen Honor” was completely separate from the PAC called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth [sic] when in fact the two groups had formally announced their merger a month earlier; and that C) you said in your commentary that PACs are “often the great equalizer” that allows challengers to run successful races against incumbents in Congress, when the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of PAC money goes to incumbents not challengers, therefore making it harder for challengers to win races.

To my knowledge, you have neither refuted nor even challenged these charges, and you certainly didn’t on Saturday night. You would be far more effective in disputing my claim by actually disproving it rather than simply lumping it in with comments you label “angry” (which, by the way, is a common tactic you use—a rather odd one as well, given how often you demonize those you disagree with as being anti-American, “hating the troops,” or supporting terrorists—the whole pot/kettle relationship comes to mind).

Finally, and most importantly: the anger thing. You love to label everyone you think of as an enemy as “angry.” I guess this is because it carries the connotation that they are unthinking and reactionary. But anger is a perfectly logical, ethical, and just reaction to certain situations.

I am not angry in general, but I do get angry about certain things. I’m not angry at you for having conservative ideas. I’m not angry at my local station for spending time on local broadcasts airing opinionated commentary—even highly conservative commentary. I’m not even angry at you for your now semi-infamous defamation of me on your broadcast for no other reason than you disagree with my politics. That’s water under the bridge.

There are things I am angry about, though, Mr. Hyman. I’m angry that KGAN, a local station I grew up watching here in eastern Iowa has gone (under the guidance of Sinclair Broadcasting) from a respected source of news and information to the source of an unwatchable hodgepodge of prepackaged news and one-sided commentary when there are local issues affecting my neighbors and me that aren’t being dealt with.

I’m angry that a number of excellent journalists were summarily fired or driven from their jobs at KGAN because of Sinclair’s single-minded goal of turning a profit rather than doing good journalism.

I’m angry that familiar faces of people who became like (and often actually were) neighbors of mine in eastern Iowa, faces of the people who made up the news team at Channel 2 and to whom I felt a true connection built over years of inviting them into my home via television, have been replaced by a revolving door of bobble-headed non-entities who do news broadcasts for all Sinclair-affiliated stations in the state.

I’m angry that rather than allowing local stations the chance to have local commentary about local issues (and offering a chance for local residents to respond), you and the Smith clan think it is your droit-du-seigneur to foist off two minutes of your extreme political views on us from your headquarters half a continent away in Baltimore.

I’m angry that Sinclair ignores its responsibilities to be a good corporate citizen in the communities from which it profits, seemingly forgetting that we the people, not Sinclair, own the airwaves that allow you to make a profit. You make your money by using the natural resource we own, and give us precious little in return.

I’m angry that instead of giving us articulate, well-reasoned, professional commentary from multiple viewpoints, you give us predictable, clumsy, poorly-researched, poorly-written, factually inaccurate, amateurish, talk-radio-esque diatribes that demean and impoverish public discourse.

I’m angry that my professional life is devoted to teaching students the importance of thinking through issues carefully, considering opposing views honestly, and formulating their own arguments ethically, and then when they flip on their television, they see someone like you violate every basic principle of honest public discourse through your use of propaganda techniques, faulty logic, and misrepresentation of facts.

I’m angry that you and Sinclair claim to support our troops and accuse anyone who disagrees with your particular political views of hating them, yet when you feel that supporting the troops could possibly interfere with your unquestioning loyalty to the current administration (such as with “The Fallen”), you always choose the latter.

I’m angry that you act as a cheerleader for an administration that has sent former students of mine, as well as family members of close friends, to Iraq to fight and die but sent them there without justification, without the armor to protect their bodies, without the numbers of comrades needed to keep them safe in hostile streets, without a plan for bringing them home in one piece, and without a commander in chief who will take responsibility for his mistakes.

And I’m angry that you then have the balls to tell those of us who disagree with the war that we hate the troops.

So yes, Mr. Hyman…I am angry. Not angry in general, but angry about certain things and at certain people. And yes, one of those people is you, Mr. Hyman. And I’m angry at your company. But, as you can see, I certainly have good reason to be.

And, as you will see, I’ve got a lot of company.

And that’s my point.


Ted Remington


At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ted,

I mean this in the most positive way: After reading your Open Letter, I thought of the better speeches by Democratic leaders who try to rally people to wake up and say "Enough"!

I have heard that grass-roots groups are forming to protest the likes of Mark Hyman and to restore a sense of the people's airwaves.

Do you know how many of these there are? Can THEY effectively bother the FCC? (Seems that the FCC is completely insensitive to general citizen input -- they listen only to their lobbyist buddies). Is there one in Illinois?

Thank you.

At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo Ted! Bravo!
To borrow a quote from the movie 'Network', "We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!" Shout it from the rooftops!

Thanks Ted, and keep bustin' Hyman!
Mike B. in SC


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