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Sinclair Retreats

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Sinclair Broadcast Group (which includes FOX, WB, ABC, CBS, NBC, and UPN affiliates and reaches approximately 24% of all U.S. television households) — looking down the barrel of advertiser defections, a viewer boycott, a stock price heading south pronto, and strong opposition from Democrats — retreated from its plan to air Stolen Honor, a film that attacks the 1970s-era antiwar activities of Sen. John F. Kerry, and will instead run a special produced by its news division incorporating parts of the movie.

Their press release:

    Sinclair Broadcast Group announced today that on Friday, October 22, 2004 at 8:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. central time) certain television stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. will air a special one-hour news program, entitled A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media. In order to minimize the interruption of normally scheduled programming in those markets where Sinclair owns and/or programs more than one television station, the news special will be broadcast on only one of those stations. A complete list of stations which will be airing the program and the times of such broadcasts is attached.

    The news special will focus in part on the use of documentaries and other media to influence voting, which emerged during the 2004 political campaigns, as well as on the content of certain of these documentaries. The program will also examine the role of the media in filtering the information contained in these documentaries, allegations of media bias by media organizations that ignore or filter legitimate news and the attempts by candidates and other organizations to influence media coverage.

    Contrary to numerous inaccurate political and press accounts, the Sinclair stations will not be airing the documentary Stolen Honor in its entirety. At no time did Sinclair ever publicly announce that it intended to do so. In fact, since the controversy began, Sinclair’s website has prominently displayed the following statement: “The program has not been videotaped and the exact format of this unscripted event has not been finalized. Characterizations regarding the content are premature and are based on ill-informed sources.”

    While the news special will discuss the allegations surrounding Senator John Kerry’s anti-Vietnam War activities in the early 1970s raised by a number of former POWs in “Stolen Honor,” it will do so in the context of the broader discussion outlined above.

    …Joe DeFeo, Sinclair’s Vice President of News commented that, “As with all news programming produced by Sinclair’s News Central, A POW Story is being produced with the highest journalistic standards and integrity. We have not ceded, and will not in the future cede, control of our news reporting to any outside organization or political group. We are endeavoring, as we do with all of our news coverage, to present both sides of the issues covered in an equal and impartial manner.”

    ….David Smith noted that, “The experience of preparing to air this news special has been trying for many of those involved. The company and many of its executives have endured personal attacks of the vilest nature, as well as calls on our advertisers and our viewers to boycott our stations and on our shareholders to sell their stock. In addition, and more shockingly, we have received threats of retribution from a member of Senator John Kerry’s campaign and have seen attempts by leading members of Congress to influence the Federal Communications Commission to stop Sinclair from broadcasting this news special. Moreover, these coordinated attacks have occurred without regard to the facts since they predated the broadcast of our news special.”

    Mr. Smith further stated, “We cannot in a free America yield to the misguided attempts by a small but vocal minority to influence behavior and trample on the First Amendment rights of those with whom they might not agree. [click over for station list, including three each in swing states of Ohio and Florida]

That’s one way of looking at it.

JIm Rutenberg and Katie Zernike discuss Stolen Honor in the NY Times:

    The accusations include that [Kerry] single-handedly prolonged the Vietnam War, worsened the torture of prisoners of war and ultimately caused countless, needless deaths with his antiwar activism 30 years ago.

    The film is rife with out-of-context and incomplete quotations from Mr. Kerry and other antiwar veterans. Several historians said many accusations in it were not provable or stretched far beyond reality.

    Throughout, the film shows wrenching images of torture as ex-prisoners of war recount the deep sense of betrayal they felt after hearing about Mr. Kerry’s Senate testimony in 1971 in which he recounted atrocities by American troops.

    Mr. Kerry’s backers acknowledge many veterans’ frustration over Mr. Kerry’s antiwar statements then. The supporters have not actively challenged assertions from former prisoners of war who are anti-Kerry that their Vietcong captors referred to his testimony during torture.

    Historians not connected to the Kerry campaign dispute the central assertion of the film, that Mr. Kerry was responsible for prolonging the war and the prisoners’ torture. In the film, several veterans estimate that the war dragged out for an extra two years because of Mr. Kerry’s statements in 1971.

    ….The film opens with the film’s producer, Carlton A. Sherwood, a former investigative reporter and a Vietnam veteran, saying although he has undertaken many journalistic endeavors, the history of Mr. Kerry’s antiwar activism is “a lot more personal.” He recalls listening to Mr. Kerry’s testimony in 1971, saying, “I felt an inner hurt no surgeon’s scalpel could remove.”

    Other veterans appear, saying Mr. Kerry wrongly accused them of war crimes. The film says Mr. Kerry never saw the atrocities he reported. It has a snippet of his testimony on soldiers’ cutting off ears and raping women. The snippet is edited to a sentence where Mr. Kerry says he did not witness those scenes, that he was reporting testimony from the Winter Soldier hearings that the Vietnam Veterans Against the War used in 1971 to show that war crimes like the My Lai massacre were not isolated.

    ….Several historians said yesterday that Mr. Kerry’s testimony could be legitimately criticized for greatly exaggerating the frequency of atrocities but that atrocities did occur.

    “They didn’t happen with the frequency with which John Kerry talks about them in the truncated comments we’ve all heard,” said Gary D. Solis, a former marine who is a law professor at West Point.

    But, Professor Solis said, “All the things that Senator Kerry described did happen, no question.”

It seems inconceivable that Sinclair, whose top executives are heavy Republican donors, is not featuring the film — in prime time ten days before the election — in order to alter the results of that election.

Mac Diva has more here.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • jew-dee


  • Forrest

    What will I get to read after the elections? All of the venom spewed forth will then be directed where?

    Andy, kerry might have had good intentions…negotiating (while still a reservist) with the enemy in paree…all of those “koolaid drinking” POWs could have saved some torture by agreeing with his winterwonder investigation testimony…

    Aid and comfort to the enemy…pure and simple

  • bob2112

    Andy, your mind is skewed! The force isn’t invisible though; FOX News, CNN, TBN, CBN, AM radio, MSNBC, CNBC, CBS, yes CBS, ABC, NBC & all local news affiliates! Duuuuh!

  • andy marsh

    I don’t suppose any of you “left” leaning folks watched that show???

    I don’t think Sinclair retreated at all…I think they showed a very fair program…

    But I suppose my mind is skewed by some invisible force….du..du..duuuuuh

  • bob2112

    No, he invented the internets!
    Get it right, dude!

  • andy marsh

    yeah…and he invented the internet too!!!

  • bob2112

    This should get you riled up: No 9/11 under Gore presidency! I wouldn’t have happened! Chew on that!

  • bob2112

    Andy, you’re taking a licking but you keep on ticking. Take a deep breath & prepare to salute your new President jfk!

    At least this guy’s gonna get elected not selected. You should be able to stomach that easier than us lefties who had to wash President Gore off our tongues with soap!

  • curt

    with all due credit to your 20 years of non-combat service andy, there are at least 2 high ranking military officials (with over 50 years combined service) who disagree with you concerning gw bush.

    tony mcpeak, a retired four star general who headed the air force during desert storm, said “until we know the truth about president bush’s military service – how he got into the guard, how and why he neglected his duty, how and why he was not disciplined – this issue will hang around and smell up the place.”

    admiral stansfield turner, us navy (retired) and the former c.i.a. director, said “the president dishonored the guards decades ago, and he dishonors them today, by the way he misuses and mistreats them. george bush owes them the truth about his own service and needs to answer questions about his commitment to our armed forces.”

    although i only served four years (but that’s four more than dick cheney, john ashcroft, karl rove, bill bennett, dick armey, newt gingrich, etc, etc), i too will stand behind all vets who think gw is a pos.

  • bob2112

    Andy as much as I hate your friends on Blogcritics, you rock!

    I’ll be waiting for those pigs.
    Ruby Ridge III: Ashcroft Bites the Big One!

  • andy marsh

    that was funny…

  • You’re certainly entitled to that opinion of yourself.

  • andy marsh

    you said hate…I said I do not like…

    But yeah…don’t you ever get that feeling about someone? That you just don’t like him?

    I’m not blind Rodney…just convinced.

  • Andy — Gotcha. You’re motivated by sheer blind hatred. No surprise there. There seems to be a lot of it going around.

  • andy marsh

    You’re only half right there Rodney…I don’t think GWB is the 2nd coming…

    but I am a 20 year navy vet…and I do not like johnFONDAkerry one little bit!!!

    And I will stand behind ALL the veterans that think he’s a POS!!!

  • Andy, come off it. If I showed you 847 instances of American atrocities, you could STILL say “that’s not day to day!” because the war went on for eons. Your mood is such that no matter how much evidence you see, you’re just going to stick to your attitude of “I-Hate-John-Kerry’s-Motherfucking-Guts-And-I-Think-George-W.-Bush-is-The-Second Coming-of-Jesus” line of thinking.

  • geezuz dude, switch to decaf.

  • andy marsh

    I said that his testimony to the congress was BULLSHIT…in it’s entirety…kerry said it happened on a day to day basis, with the full knowledge of the chain of command…you show me a link with 7 instances on it.

    That’s not day to day!!!

    and because the Voice says it’s so…doesn’t make it so…

    that article says there are hundreds of INVESTIGATIONS and lists only 7 outcomes of those hundreds of investigations…well there are thousands of INVESTIGATIONS into alien abductions…that doesn’t make it so!!!

    an investigation is just that…an investigation…if we went by the number of investigations to determine guilt or innocence then clinton would have been hanged!!!

  • First you say it was bullshit. Now you say it didn’t happen every day — and that no matter how much it happened, Kerry shouldn’t have said so.

    Whatever, Andy. I’m sure it was a rare occurence. I’m sure it was just the work of a loose cannon.

  • andy marsh

    I do not believe it happened on a day-to-day basis.

    I said earlier that I do not deny these things happened, on rare occasions…but to state that they happened daily is a gross misrepresentation of the facts…and to deny that the statements made in front of congress by kerry did not directly affect the way the POW’s were treated is also a gross misrepresentation.

  • No, it doesn’t. Again, think My Lai. Think of those film clips of American officers torching the homes of Vietnamese peasants. War brings out the worst in people — we are not immune I’m afraid.

  • andy marsh

    Rodney, I will not dispute that atrocities happen in war…The Voice says, they have files of investigations..and then lists a few of the people that wer efound guilty… I’ll give you that, I have problems with statements like

    not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

    That makes it BULLSHIT!

  • andy marsh

    Because he repeated stories that were collected at the winter soldier investigation…some of the “soldiers” that told those stories, were never even in the service!!!

    He was basically telling stories along the lines of… I heard from this “soldier”, who had a friend, who’s uncle had a friend, who was there…and that makes it BULLSHIT!!!

  • Andy, Why do you say Kerry told “bullshit stories” to Congress about Vietnam atrocities? Do you have any proof it’s bullshit? I keep hearing just the opposite. And what about the My Lai Massacre? It’s not like American soldiers are saints. Look at Abu Ghraib; the right wing thinks revealing that nest of vipers was unAmerican as well.

  • The first president Bush, RJ, was a Republican, too.

  • andy marsh

    Bob – It’s a secret code that sends your name and ALL your posts stright to the FBI for analysis…but don’t worry…I don’t think they’ll take it ALL seriously!!!

  • bob2112

    Hey Andy, be a bro & tell me what (bob2112br5496280955?) means? I’ve been nice enough to deserve to be told what this is. Please? is this some Navy thing? If I have to, I’ll ask somebody
    around here. You guys don’t have some ‘Skull & Bones’ secrets you & Truth Meister can’t share, do you?

    If you tell me, I’ll write something good about Bush, if I can find something. & believe it to be true. I promise.

  • Hmmm, so the derelict pretending to be a blogger is screwing up the site. I’m not surprised. Way to go, Andy!

    And, of course, he is unable to distinguish an entertainment piece from an opinion of the an NYT editorial board. (Comment 17.) Figures.

    But, that it is the least of it. The entertainment writer believes just the opposite of what Andy is claiming. Yes, she said that “Stolen Honor” should be shown, but not right before the election, and not because it is a believable movie. She sees it as therapy. Something to help the mentally damaged men of the Swift Nuts group. Though the movie is pretty pitiful as anti-Kerry propaganda, she believes, it allows the POWs to talk about their anger. The talking cure, you know.

    This histrionic, often specious and deeply sad film does not do much more damage to Senator John Kerry’s reputation than have the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s negative ads, which have flooded television markets in almost every swing state. But it does help viewers better understand the rage fueling the unhappy band of brothers who oppose Mr. Kerry’s candidacy and his claim to heroism.

    . . . .The documentary shows Mr. Kerry’s 1971 Senate testimony, in which he famously reported that fellow soldiers had “cut off ears,” among other atrocities. But the filmmakers were not able to dig up more indicting material from homemade movies or news clips from the era. The picture from an antiwar demonstration, where Mr. Kerry stood a few rows behind Ms. Fonda, is blown up portentously, but there are no shots of them together. The only candid shot of Mr. Kerry gathering material for the Winter Soldier hearings shows him solicitously asking a veteran why he felt the need to speak.

    Eric, allowing this person to pretend to be a blogger is the kind of inanity I’ve warned you about in the past. It reminds me of when you welcomed Roger Ely to Blogcritics.

  • bob2112

    Cute…;( You guys/gals are going to have four years to lick your wounds & take another ‘stab’ at it! You’re finished! Forget it & go home. Ha, ha, ha! jfk in your face!

  • RJ

    “Is that a liberal prayer”

    That’s an oxymoron, Andy… 😉

  • RJ

    “Congressional efforts to make the doctrine into law surfaced again during the Bush administration. As before, the legislation was vetoed, this time by Bush.

    “There is no Fairness, thanks to Reagan and Bush.”

    That was the FIRST President Bush, for the sake of clarity…

  • Eric Olsen

    actually, the best solution to URL sprawl of all is to make the URL an actual link – then it doesn’t show up on the page at all

  • andy marsh

    well anyway…what Hal said

  • andy marsh

    You really should read this…Ny Times article…


  • No, not “after all.”

  • andy marsh

    Thank you Hal…You’re not such a bad guy after all…

  • By now, andy, you’ve found out that posting long URLs screws up Blogcritics. The fix is to first go to tinyULR and get a tiny URL like this one:


  • Truth Minister

    Are you referring to bob2112br5496280955?

  • andy marsh

    How can you compare Michael Moores’ rhetoric and cut and paste movies to all those POW’s???

    Why would all those guys that were locked away in prisons during a time of war feel that way???

  • Truth Minister

    Luckily I live in one of the few cities that will be airing it. Sinclair owns the local ABC station.

    The democrats are just angry that their hero Michael Moore won’t have enough time to try and counter with more of his stupidity. Moore should name his next flick “Appetite 911” documenting how he wages war on an all you can eat buffet.

  • bob2112

    Fair is fair. F-9/11 isn’t going to change anyone’s vote any more than ‘SoldOut Honor’ will.

    I agree that an attempt to stop the programming should’ve gone forward, as much as the Right tried to stop F-9/11 from being shown in theaters.

    I hope the theaters that heeded the warning by not showing the film, were paid something for their loss. The employees shouldn’t suffer because some frightened of pig-headed owner was dumb enough not to show it!

  • andy marsh

    You see…the deal is…he did those things…it’s record!!!

    He testified before congress with bullshit stories, some of them from guys that weren’t even in the service. And it hurt every one of those POW’s.

    He met with a foreign enemy in a time of war. It doesn’t matter what he was doing it for…it wasn’t his job. and it hurt every one of those POW’s.

    And I stand behind the veterans, at least one of them a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, that say he should not be president.

    I believe them more than I believe kerry.

  • andy marsh

    The NEW YORK TIMES, the MOST liberal paper on Earth, says that Stolen Honor SHOULD BE SHOWN on every network!!



    Published: October 21, 2004


  • bob2112

    No, Bob Jones! Jimmy Jones is dead. Bob Jones maybe as well, but he still has that creepy school whose credentials must get you a good job in a Southern faith-based institution or higher rank in some Klan, or National Alliance chapter! Pieces of shit!

  • curt

    did you mean jimmy jones?

  • bob2112

    As liberal as it can get, my brother, For God has no beef with the Krusaders, only the Bob Jones Kool Aid dispenserers.
    Yes I said it, dispense-er-rers!

  • andy marsh

    Bob??? Is that a liberal prayer????

  • bob2112

    Thank the Almighty for justice being served to those who would fly in the face of God! Now Pat Robertson must have misunderstood what Bush said about there being no American casualties in Iraq war!

    Evil will pay in the end. Sinclair stock is dog shit, & God is going to permanantly screw with these neo-con traitors. Nov. 3, what’s taking so long?
    Smite these GOP liars in their tracks!

    We thank thee for taking away some of the means these evildoers would use against the powers of righteousnss, but Nov. 3 is not here soon enough for your weary tortured believers. As for now we’ll take what we can get, for we know the sun will rise again very soon, and darkness will fall on those who consistantly take your name in vain. Amen!

  • Typo: political.

  • Thanks for posting the Fairness Doctrine, Eric. Mike Kole has been claiming the media has not been deregulated. My references to the the equal time requirement for poltical content were dismissed on that thread. The media may not have been deregulated enough to please the extreme right, but deregulation has been substantial.

  • Unfortunately, Eric, the Republicans killed the Fairness Doctrine:

    (opens in new window)

    The policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission that became known as the “Fairness Doctrine” is an attempt to ensure that all coverage of controversial issues by a broadcast station be balanced and fair.

    With the deregulation sweep of the Reagan Administration during the 1980s, the Commission dissolved the fairness doctrine.

    The fairness doctrine ran parallel to Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1937 which required stations to offer “equal opportunity” to all legally qualified political candidates for any office if they had allowed any person running in that office to use the station.

    The FCC fairness policy was given great credence by the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court case of Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. FCC.

    By 1985, the FCC issued its Fairness Report, asserting that the doctrine was no longer having its intended effect, might actually have a “chilling effect” and might be in violation of the First Amendment. In a 1987 case, Meredith Corp. v. FCC, the courts declared that the doctrine was not mandated by Congress and the FCC did not have to continue to enforce it. The FCC dissolved the doctrine in August of that year.

    However, before the Commission’s action, in the spring of 1987, both houses of Congress voted to put the fairness doctrine into law–a statutory fairness doctrine which the FCC would have to enforce, like it or not.

    But President Reagan, in keeping with his deregulatory efforts and his long-standing favor of keeping government out of the affairs of business, vetoed the legislation. There were insufficient votes to override the veto.

    Congressional efforts to make the doctrine into law surfaced again during the Bush administration. As before, the legislation was vetoed, this time by Bush.

    There is no Fairness, thanks to Reagan and Bush.

  • Eric Olsen

    I believe in the Fairness Doctrine: the public airwaves are perhaps, like a liquor license, a virtual license to steal, but with these cash cows come responsibility to the public, a responsibility most crucial during election time.

  • RJ,
    Mike Moore’s movie differs from the Sinclair thing because Mike Moore and his movie are private entities, entitled to do what they want. Sinclair is a public subsidized entity, and so it governed by various laws… which include equal time for candidates.

    Also, Moore has never made any bones about his motivations. He has never once even claimed to be giving each side a fair shake.

    I don’t see the same coming from Sinclair. They are dressing it up and skirting the issue. I believe this last announcement was made to stem the very severe financial bleeding this disastrous decision had caused. On just Monday and Tuesday the company lost 12% of their value. So last night they accounced a re-worded versiou slightly backing down (and mostly denying). It worked, their stock came right back up today. I have nothing nice to say to them, or their advertisers.

    As for the FCC, with Michael Powell as the chairman (son of Colin Powell) they are acting more as a privitized wing of the Republican party.

    Just one of the zillions of reasons I voted Democratic yesterday. Early voting rules! I did it in ten minutes at the local grocery chain here in Colorado.

    Thanks for listening, that was long… but I am pretty angry about this issue. Eric, sorry to hijack the thread.

  • No you can’t, RJ, but you dont’ control the media.

  • RJ

    Can I access the CBS boardroom? Or the CNN boardroom? Or the “Hardball” set?


    Yeah, those radical Republicans at ABC really frighten me…

  • Republicans believe in speech owned by big business.

    They got rid of the Fairness Doctriine in broadcast, never saw a media merger they didn’t like, and when media companies exceeded government limits, instead of penalizing them, they had Michael Powell of the FCC change the ownership limits to give their campaign contributors a free pass.

    It’s down-right anti-American (unless you’re one of the few Americans with access to the board room).

  • RJ


  • RJ

    Democrats oppose free speech.

    When Michael Moore placed his pseudo-documentary in theatres nationwide, the Left was quite pleased, and even made him a guest-of-honor at the DNC. This, despite his stated goal of affecting the Presidential election with his lies.

    But when a pro-GOP corporation tries to air a documentary based on the thoughts of actual real-life Vietnam vets who feel they were defemaed by Presidential candidate John. F. Kerry, the Democrats go berzerk and demand that the public not be allowed to view it on TV.

    Supporters of the Second Amendment have always felt the GOP was their home. Now supporters of the First Amendment can as well…

  • andy marsh

    I visited the Sinclair site more than a week ago and saw that very commentit was not the entire movie, that it had not yet been videotaped and Senator Kerry was invited to stand next to those guys and tell them that it wasn’t his ugly mug their captors showed them to try to make them confess to shit they didn’t do!!!

    Well, not in those EXACT words, more like what Eric had in his piece. But that’s what I’m getting out of it!!!

    I don’t think it’s a retreat Eric, I’d actually call it a stance.