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Daily Briefing: A categorized digest of press news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

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Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

E-Media Tidbits from the Poynter Institute is group blog by some of the sharper writers about online journalism and publishing. A good way to keep up

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October 21, 2004

Sinclair Goes to Air Friday Night: Notes and Comment on "A POW Story"

Sinclair wanted to play Mike Wallace. It imagined grilling Kerry about his actions against the war. The goal was never to air Stolen Honor, though the furor has been about Stolen Honor. The play they were making was: Get Kerry on video so we can edit his words (and splice in the POWs). Friday's show will be a much diluted version of that idea.

Sinclair’s announcement on Tuesday, Oct. 19 is the biggest news this week. A special program will air on Friday, ten days before the election, at either 7 or 8 pm in 40 markets.

The company said it would not run the 42-minute film, Stolen Honor, in full, but include its charges in a larger discussion of political documentaries, their treatment in the news, and possible bias in the media reception these films get. Sinclair also said it will not run the program twice in the 20+ markets where it owns two properties— “in order to minimize the interruption of normally scheduled programming.”

And so the tactical decision was made to back off a showing of Stolen Honor.

But keep in mind Sinclair’s incapacity to accept anything even remotely critical about itself. Only the purest of motives reside in the company’s heart. Only the wisest of moves is made by the company’s head. Thus, if something happens at Sinclair, Sinclair had always intended it to happen.

Although its plans evolve, the company never changes its mind. It never backs down. It never learns because it already knows. Most especially, it is always the innocent party, always under attack by the most unscrupulous and outrageous foes, a minority who never let up. These are the characteristic beliefs of all ideologically-driven groups that operate in the paranoid style of politics.

Attention Sinclair shareholders: the people who run the company are an ideologically-driven group. They operate in the paranoid style. Don’t believe me? Listen carefully to CEO David D. Smith. He’s talking about the period, Oct. 9-19, 2004:

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.

Notice how criticism about airing Stolen Honor is invalid, according to Smith, because it is not based on an actual program. There are no facts yet because there’s been no broadcast. He is literally saying: you cannot criticize our intentions. You must wait for us to act. Therefore a citizen upset with the company for injecting propaganda into the campaign cannot, according to Smith, fairly criticize the company until the propaganda has been injected.

“A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media” is the special that will run Friday night. Here is my prediction for what the program will contain. You can check it against the actual broadcast tomorrow night, and we’ll see how close I was. (I will have to rely on those within reach of a Sinclair station.)

  • Some 10-12 minutes of Stolen Honor featuring the most sensational and gut-wrenching testimony from former POW’s and the most clearly stated charges.
  • The filmmaker will be asked some questions.
  • A review of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their attempt to interest the news media in their story, which was rejected, leading to the ad campaign and then a media frenzy to discredit the group, which didn’t work but did reveal incredible bias.
  • A look at Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11 and the way the media ate it up.
  • Cursory examination of other political documentaries.
  • These brave men, the former POW’s, who finally spoke up, took their story to NBC, CNN, ABC and the like and were turned away.
  • Sinclair had to step in. We could not allow them to be silenced by a biased media system.
  • We believe their charges should be answered by Senator Kerry; that’s why we invited him to appear on this program. We offered every concession, but he refused. We regret that.
  • Which brings us to our panel discussion tonight: media bias: can it be stopped? media coverage: what really drives it? documentaries: are they propaganda or information?
  • There will be guests but they will be second-rate.
  • Some way or another, Sinclair will be portrayed as the victim.

The program will be an attack, an anti-Kerry rant with some subtlety and just enough “issue” in it to deflect charges of airing propaganda. To accusations of bias, Sinclair’s reply is pre-ordained: our program corrects for mainstream media bias in suppressing the POWs’ claims, which Sinclair will call new and newsworthy. (PressThink readers in Sinclair markets: please post comments on what you saw.)

Jon Leiberman, who was fired Monday for speaking out about Sinclair’s way of turning news into propaganda, has continued to talk. (See my earlier post about him.) What he’s added is a portrait of the ideological pressure exerted on news producers from the very top of Sinclair Broadcast Group— meaning David Smith, and the man who is clearly Smith’s operative for ideological matters, Mark Hyman, Vice President for Corporate Affairs.

These two are most responsible for the Stolen Honor episode, along with Joe DeFeo, Sinclair’s Vice President of News, who has to carry out intentions originating from above. He must also manage the tensions from below when Smith and Hyman intervene in the news produced at News Central. If this were a criminal case, a good prosecutor would circle DeFeo’s photo and apply pressure there.

We go wrong, we misunderstand Sinclair, if we say that Smith and Hyman are interfering in the journalism done at News Central. That’s not the way I would put it. They created News Central so that it could be interfered with, so that their empire would have a voice, and this voice could speak as news.

But to Leiberman and many others who work there, the involvement by higher-ups was disturbing because of what it said about the Sinclair way of doing business— and the company’s ultimate intentions. This week he began to describe a “daily struggle to get fair news on the air.” He told how the crisis of conscience that ended with his firing developed over several months of conflicts. He said CEO David Smith would come into the newsroom and give journalists ideas for stories.

David Folkenflik and Stephen Kiehl of the Baltimore Sun, who have a national story in their back yard, are on top of this one:

By last winter, Leiberman said he was privately complaining to his bosses about the blurring of the line between the company’s news stories and the conservative, pro-Bush editorials of Mark Hyman. It came to a head when Hyman and Leiberman were sent to Iraq in February to find positive developments missed by the rest of the mainstream media, which Sinclair executives said were focusing too narrowly on the unstable conditions there.

Read the rest of the Sun’s account, which is starting to give us the portrait we need from inside Sinclair. (Jon Leiberman, who was the Washington bureau chief for News Center, also speaks here.)

In things Sinclair you get used to a certain quality of mendacity that is always one degree more intense than spin. Sinclair wanted it known that it was going to show Stolen Honor. Sinclair wanted it known that it had no plans to show Stolen Honor. Sinclair refuses to speak to the reporter. Sinclair says: that reporter never spoke to us! You could say the company is combative in its dealings with the press. But I prefer mendacious.

Elizabeth Jensen broke the Stolen Honor story in the Los Angeles Times, Oct 9. (And she’s interviewed me several times to get my reactions to things that have happened.) Jensen found out about Sinclair and Stolen Honor because people in the company and connected to it knew about the preparations and inquiries being made.

As she wrote this week, Sinclair’s intention to show the film was “never announced publicly, but communicated widely to its employees, its stations, its network partners and ‘Stolen Honor’ filmmaker Carlton Sherwood.”

The reason it was not announced publicly is that the company did not know what it was doing, exactly, or what it would decide to air. Sinclair, you see, was after the showdown with Kerry; Stolen Honor was just a way to get there. We learn about this in Amy Goodman’s amazing radio interview with Mark Hyman (recorded Oct. 15), Sinclair Spokesperson Discusses His Former CIA Job and Whether He Will Air Anti-Kerry Special . (That’s right, ex-CIA, and he admits it. I told you this wasn’t a normal company.)

In negotiations with the Kerry campaign, he tried to get the Senator to come on the air. (So says Hyman; we don’t have an account of this yet from inside the Kerry team.) The “carrot,” in his mind, was the hour of TV time they were setting aside and dangling before Kerry— free media, as it’s called in the trade. The “stick” was showing Stolen Honor:

MARK HYMAN: We have never made a public statement about any of this. What we have been doing, quietly, quietly, was we found claims inside this documentary — this is how it came to our attention — of 13 American P.O.W.s who made some very strong allegations that they specifically were tortured using John Kerry’s 1971 testimony.

AMY GOODMAN: We also –

MARK HYMAN: We never announced anything. The L.A. Times — the L.A. Times never spoke to our company.

AMY GOODMAN: So at this point, you’re not requiring your 62 Sinclair Broadcasting affiliates to run this documentary.

MARK HYMAN: What we told them, we’re going to run a 60-minute program. We gave them a general time frame and a window. If John Kerry was to respond to us and say, “You know, folks, we’ll respond to you and we’ll participate and I’ll spend two hours with you,” guess what, we’re no longer doing a 60-minute program, maybe we’re doing a two-hour program, maybe we’re doing two one-hour programs over two nights, because we think it’s a valid issue.

You see? Sinclair wanted to play Mike Wallace. Sinclair imagined grilling Kerry about the POWs and his actions against the war, catching him in a lie or seeing him self-destruct. And Sinclair wanted to edit the one or two hours of tape— to splice and dice and make the target look bad, like that biased CBS does. The goal wasn’t airing Stolen Honor, even though the entire public furor has been about Stolen Honor. Their play was: Get Kerry on tape so we can make a program (and splice in the POW’s). Friday night’s show is descended from that idea.

Frank Ahrens and Howard Kurtz had this in their account Tuesday:

The company now says that it never intended to air “Stolen Honor” in its entirety, although Sinclair commentator and vice president Mark Hyman had told The Washington Post that the movie would air unless the Massachusetts senator agreed to an interview, in which case only portions might run.

“I am not personally aware that he ever said that, but if he said it, that was not company policy at the time,” Sinclair lawyer Barry Faber said. He said Sinclair’s position on the film has been “evolving” and that journalists and critics have made a “leap to judgment.”

“There has been a misunderstanding of what our intention was,” Faber said, “in part because it wasn’t clear to us what our intention was.”

Hmmm. For an attorney, Faber, to admit something like that, “wasn’t clear to us what our intention was,” is a fascinating thing for Sinclair shareholders to contemplate, given the risks the company took with this program. But what he means is… Look, we were involved in high stakes jockeying with the Kerry people over getting the target to cooperate, while threatening him with 42 minutes of Stolen Honor, and 18 minutes of panel discussion to drive the message home. How the hell did we know what our show would end up looking like? Cut us some slack!

Hyman has tried to take this further into a direct attack on Jensen’s reporting. Here’s what he said to Amy Goodman:

I want to make certain I set the record straight. We probably all remember that telephone game we played in primary school where someone starts a story at one end of the class and it ends up being changed at the end, except in this particular instance, this all came about, at least the controversy, if you will, based on a very deeply flawed article that appeared in The Los Angeles Times. I think their adage must be, “We want to get the story first, instead of getting it right.”

Hyman never says what the Los Angeles Times got wrong because Jensen got nothing wrong. He also neglects to add a crucial detail. Sinclair declined numerous requests to comment for Jensen’s story, and thus blew off the opportunity to “correct” what became her “deeply flawed” reporting. Maybe Hyman regrets his decision not to call back. Maybe shareholders regret that an officer of the company behaved so recklessly in allowing a “false” and seriously flawed report to go forward. Or maybe it wasn’t false at all, and Hyman knows it.

“We’ve made it clear on many, many, many, many, many media outlets here in the last several days,” Hyman said to Goodman. “We have not finalized plans for this.” True when he said it, because the endgame with Kerry was incomplete. No final plans, but lots of preparations were made. Hyman neglects to mention them.

But Net users pooled their knowledge of advanced TV listings for Stolen Honor and produced this list. Like CBS during its recent fiasco, Sinclair doesn’t know what the Internet can do with its truth claims, so it is constantly making truth claims that can be disproven by the Net. But as I said earlier, the company is also never wrong. Tuesday’s announcement included this bit about showing the film:

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.”

If sources reporting that Sinclair was preparing to run the film were so ill-informed, why was Josh Marshall able to point to this Yahoo listing a few hours after the press release went out?

Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal

Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal
KSMO Oct 21 08:00pm Add to My Calendar
Special/Other, 60 Mins.
Some Vietnam POWs discuss John Kerry’s 1971 testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Original Airdate: October 21, 2004.

The word I prefer is mendacious. The ur-text for the entire Sinclair Election Year Endgame is Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviewing Mark Hyman. If you care about this story, you must listen.

One of the more telling moments is when Goodman—no doubt aware that Summer Redstone of Viacom had announced he was voting for Bush because Bush would be better for Vicacom—asked a similar question of Hyman: “Mark Hyman, if the Bush administration were to win, would Sinclair Broadcasting do a little better?” After all, she pointed out, Sinclair has grown large through de-regulation, a climate likely to continue if Michael Powell remains FCC chairman and Bush remains in office.

Notice how the suggestion is not only denied, but derided. The very question is thought absurd, conspiratorial, out-of-bounds. Sinclair doesn’t have a political thought in its head; it wouldn’t even know how to think that way. Hyman is aghast that some people do. That’s the special quality of mendacity I mentioned: Sinclair’s hyper-innocence. Better for Sinclair if Bush wins?

MARK HYMAN: Amy, that’s quite a Machiavellian view you have. But just think about it. If we really wanted to do this for some sort of nefarious reasons, we would just — we could just put that documentary on without any announcement, and just run it, or we could just run John Kerry’s entire testimony from 1971.

AMY GOODMAN: No, if you could just answer that question. In a more deregulated environment —

MARK HYMAN: That’s absurd, Amy. No, I am answering the question. You have got this conspiracy theory going on, and that’s just not reality.

Sinclair is always innocent. Sinclair is always pure. Sinclair wanted to make a 60 Minutes-style hit piece using taped interviews with Kerry. Running Stolen Honor was the threat. But word leaked out, and Stolen Honor became the pivot point of a huge controversy that is revealing to us what Sinclair, under Smith and Hyman, really is: Agnew with Television Stations, a political empire with a commercial base in broadcasting, capable of making alliances and negotiating with princes. Shareholders have been enlisted in an ideological project that is not incidental to Sinclair’s business, but at the core of what the broadcasting group has been created for.

Deep down, the executives want themselves and their convictions on the air: not Stolen Honor. Smith and Hyman wanted to play Don Hewitt and get Kerry on camera. That didn’t happen but look what has. Sinclair has a corporate vice president doing daily commentaries on 62 stations. Why? Because it’s a nifty way to cut costs?

I felt—but its moot now—that Kerry should prey on Sinclair’s empire of narcissism and negotiate great terms for a live, unedited program that he could turn to his advantage. (See this PressThink post.) Not many agreed with me. What we’ll probably see Friday is the 60 Minutes-style hit piece, without a Kerry interview, dressed up to look like a “discussion” of an issue instead of a hit. (Josh Marshall agrees.)

The target will be expanded, however, from just Kerry to the Liberal Media that protects Kerry, and enables attacks on Bush. In the paranoid style, targets are interchangeable, and I bet that comes through in Friday’s show. Last word goes to David Smith in the press release announcing “A POW Story.”

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.

Sinclair has the rights being trampled on. Sinclair is the victim fighting back.

After Matter: Notes, reactions and links…

Daily Kos has a transcript of Stolen Honor.

Lex Alexander at the News-Record site has an overview of the Sinclair story with context, history, links galore and a sense of narrative. Great place to start if you are catching up with this company and why it’s in the news. Thanks, Lex.

Joe Flynt, Wall Street Journal (Oct. 22):

Sinclair’s Mr. Smith said in an interview that the most recent backlash against the company “is a classic example of orchestrated confusion on the part of the general media.” Mr. Smith blamed initial news reports that said Sinclair planned to air a documentary called “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” in which prisoners of war discuss pain and betrayal they said they felt at Mr. Kerry’s antiwar activities. Sinclair neither denied nor confirmed those news reports.

Hugh Hewitt, one leader of the right’s charge after Dan Rather, draws parallels between that episode and Sinclair (and mentions PressThink’s coverage):

The impact of toppling Dan Rather’s credibility and with forcing the watering down of the Stolen Honor showing are of course not the same at all, as Rathergate has permanently impacted Rather’s reputation as well as that of CBS and the MSM generally. The validity of Stolen Honor’s claims has not at all been impaired, though Sinclair Broadcasting has now been branded in a way it may or may not regret.

But it was a clear show of strength for the weblogs of the left, underscoring again that the new medium’s role is most noticeable as a watchdog.

Eric Bohlert of Salon captured an important quote in his piece this week. That Zlenick, a conservative voice in journalism, speaks this way shows us that Sinclair is capable of taking bold, unprecedented steps.

Bob Zelnick, chairman of the Department of Journalism at Boston University, a self-described conservative who says he intends to vote for President Bush, calls Sinclair’s decision “an unfortunate precedent” that runs counter to “good journalism” and “is not what network news ought to be about.” A former Pentagon correspondent for ABC News, Zelnick says, “Whether you’re liberal or conservative, if you have roots in the journalism profession, there are core values that transcend and need to survive election to election. You avoid airing, very close to election, highly charged, partisan material that takes the guise of a documentary.”

Aaron Barnhart once interviewed Sinclair CEO David Smith:

David Smith thinks towns in which Sinclair owns stations have untapped groups of viewers who would watch its local TV news. All Sinclair must do is promote itself as being free from the political bias of other local news stations.

Since when is reporting on crimes, fires and other local news of the day political? Smith smiled when I asked him that.

“What would serve you better,” he asked me, “a story about a house fire or a story about the Supreme Court?”

Slate’s Explainer: How Fair Is Sinclair’s Doctrine? Is John Kerry entitled to avenge his Stolen Honor?

Slate’s Dana Stevens on the film: “Stolen Honor is the kind of show you might come across at 2 a.m. as a paid infomercial on a local-access channel and leave on for a few minutes out of sheer fascinated disgust. It’s a sleazy little piece of work, a cunning act of libel-by-insinuation that introduces no facts that have not been public information for at least 30 years.”

Alessandra Stanley, New York Times, does a review: “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.”

When former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt wants to comment on the Sinclair situation, he writes a note to blogger Josh Marshall and Taking Points Memo runs it. See his commentary after the announcement of “A POW Story.”

Sinclair and Watergate, Wall Street Journal, Review & Outlook page, on the pressure campaign targeting Sinclair: “One of the most important protections that a free press has is independent corporate ownership, but what if the Nixon Administration had unleashed its lawyer friends and government pension funds on the Times Company when it was publishing the Pentagon Papers, or the Washington Post when it was digging into Watergate? If the standard now is that stirring controversy is a fraud against shareholders because it may cost ad revenue, a lot more media owners than Sinclair are going to become political targets.”

Mark Tapscott of the Heritage Foundation:

“They better hope we don’t win.”

That’s the blunt warning political operative Chad Clanton recently delivered to the journalists at Sinclair Broadcasting. Clanton’s boss is John Kerry, the subject of a highly critical documentary Sinclair plans to air later this month.

But it isn’t just Sinclair journalists who should worry about this threat. What Clanton has in mind for Sinclair would severely damage the free press guaranteed by the First Amendment…

Media Post, Burger King To Sinclair: ‘We’re Not Having It Your Way’.

Jesse Walker at Reason Online (Oct. 21): First Amendment Hypocrites: The Democratic Party vs. the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Previously at PressThink: Commentary on the Sinclair Challenge

“Call it Commentary, Call it Editorial, Call it Programming, but Don’t Call it News.” Sinclair Fires Jonathan Leiberman By interfering from above (“you will interrupt your schedule, you will run this program, you will call it news…”), and by coloring the news to match the Right’s view of the world, Sinclair hopes to flush out employees who cannot get with its agenda. “All liberals leave” is the message. (PressThink, Oct. 19)

Sinclair Broadcast Group: What Are They Doing in the Middle of Our Election? “What Mark Hyman has been saying to the point of braying it is— let’s negotiate. John Kerry can keep Stolen Honor off the air by replacing it with himself. Sinclair has no other invitations out. So I say send Mike McCurry and Richard Holbrooke to Baltimore. They negotiate. Five minutes of film, 55 minutes of Kerry answering questions sounds about right to me…” (PressThink, Oct. 16)

Agnew with TV Stations: Sinclair Broadcasting Takes On John Kerry and The Liberal Media. “In a commercial empire it makes no sense to invite a storm like Stolen Honor. But imagine a firm built for that sort of storm. Is Sinclair Broadcasting a media company with a political interest, or a political interest that’s gotten hold of a media company and intends to use it? There are plenty of signs that a different animal is emerging.” (PressThink, Oct. 13)

John Kerry Should Accept Sinclair Broadcasting’s Offer. “A final confrontation with the Right. Isn’t that what the Right wants too? A chance, indeed, to clear the air about Vietnam, and a lot of other things. Will America watch? America will watch. And if he can’t win that broadcast, he does not deserve to win the prize.” (PressThink, Oct. 9)

Posted by Jay Rosen at October 21, 2004 1:25 PM   Print


I can't wait to hear the commie press and the traitor Kerry's screams when Sinclair shows this fine expose.

Posted by: gawdamman at October 21, 2004 1:59 PM | Permalink

Great post, Jay, but Sinclair is far from the only media empire prone to mendacity. Theirs is just a little more tranparent than most.

Posted by: Terry Heaton at October 21, 2004 2:24 PM | Permalink

Superb piece.

Why do bad things happen to such innocent, well-intentioned people?

Smith and Hyman HAVE clearly adopted the Rove doctrine (or is it a CIA doctrine originally?) of deny, deny, deny as they weave through countless contradictory positions. "We are never wrong, always innocent, always shifting yet ever consistent. Infallible. Criticism is by definition the work of evil-doers."

The mystery to me is the gullibility that can take such transparent mendacity at its word, even though that word changes hourly.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 21, 2004 3:16 PM | Permalink

Fortunately, the jack-booted thugs, brown shirts and DNC lawyers have crushed debate on Kerry's military service (hey, John, how about releasing ALL your military & medical records?). With MSM on record as being in the tank for Kerry, I look forward to the "Orwellian" Kerry administration punishing all who do not parrot the party line. Thanks alot, MSM and Dems, I don't want to hear anymore Bee Ess about Ashcroft's AmeriKKa. Are Josh Marshall and The Nation really unbiased sources?

Posted by: paladin at October 21, 2004 3:23 PM | Permalink

Poor Republicans, crushed under the weight of controlling the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, and the Florida and Ohio voting rolls.

How does it feel with the Democratic jackboot on your throat like that?

Will the Republican party ever recover from this dark era of Democratic oppression and tyranny?

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 21, 2004 3:29 PM | Permalink

Well, the question should be "will the American people ever recover from this dark era of Democratic oppression and tyranny?" While you believe you're being sarcastic, you're more correct than you understand.

What this all proves is nothing more than that freedom of speech only applies if you're a liberal. If not, you have the freedom to shut the f**k up, and keep your opinions to yourself.

Posted by: Eye Doc at October 21, 2004 3:42 PM | Permalink

Paladin, I think you forgot the K in AshKroft. Good start, though.

Posted by: praktike at October 21, 2004 3:44 PM | Permalink

The fact is that the "Media" has been meddling in Presidential politics for the last 200 years. However, we have witnessed in the last 50 years or so, a concerted and systematic effort to control the reporting of events by a few people/organizations. The evolution of this gave us the false and sensational reporting of the
Vietnam conflict, Tehran, the 1st Gulf War and now the GWOT. One of the highlights of this "journey" was the Dan Rather fabrication in 1986 of the Vietnam "Atrocities". No one had a voice to call him on it. Armed with 30+ years of dictating what the American public was fed as news the Main Stream Media (MSM) has launched an all out attack with the objective of unseating a president. Fortunately for the 1st Amendment, our American adversarial process and the common man, alternative media has emerged to question the MSM and to present alternative views. This is all good for this "experiment" we call America. Sinclair is not a victim nor should the Kerry Campaign and/or its surrogates the MSM complain about Sinclair. If the Kerry campaign news apparatus (CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, NYT, WaPo, LAT, BG) was interested in the truth regarding Sen Kerry's total military and Vietnam experience they would release his entire military record. That will not occur, of course, because the MSM is not interested in letting the American public make decisions based on all the available evidence. That is why they and all the left wing factions are attacking Sinclair. The left wingers in this country know that the American Public is not really all that stupid and they fear that common sense will prevail if they cannot control the information. Let Sinclair air "Stolen Honor" and if the market, i.e. the viewing audience, stays with Sinclair then the public will have spoken. What a great Country. Definately worth defending against Islamo-Fascist Terrorists.

Posted by: dan brooks at October 21, 2004 3:47 PM | Permalink

"The program will be an attack, an anti-Kerry rant with some subtlety and just enough "issue" examination to deflect charges of airing propaganda."

As opposed to all those thinly disguised MSM TV 'news magazines' we've been treated to throughout the past year featuring authors (later discredited) of the latest Bush-bashing tome.

Sorry, but the Left's hypocritical me-but-not-for-thee whining about bias, propaganda, dissent or anything else connected with the First Amendment doesn't cut any ice.

Posted by: Cosmo at October 21, 2004 3:55 PM | Permalink

Looks like the left wing will do anything to try to prevent Vets and POWs to speak out.

The truth does and will hurt.

Looking forward to tomorrow night's broadcast. Keep the Swiftvet and POW issue alive and well.

Posted by: PC at October 21, 2004 4:14 PM | Permalink

I find it highly ironic that you cite an interview by Amy Goodman, an extreme partisan, in your critique of Sinclair's partisanship.

I agree that a more unbiased media would be preferable, but the best I can see is a media that at least admits its' biases, which, with the exception of Daniel Okrent, most of the traditional does not do.

What Sinclair tried to do/will do is problematic. Is it really any more problematic than what the traditional media has been force feeding us, to the exclusion of different viewpoints, left and right? When was the last time that we heard a libertarian or socialist voice on the evening news?

Posted by: oldtom at October 21, 2004 4:18 PM | Permalink

dan brooks,
It would be redundant for Rather to "fabricate" Vietnam atrocities given that the Pentagon's own investigations record hundreds and perhaps thousands of them. Please acquaint yourself with the facts before dismissing reality so cavalierly.

It is this reality that makes it impossible to pretend Stolen Honor is news from ANY ideological perspective. It defies the facts of this world as we know them. It only qualifies as news if you simply REMOVE the requirement for standards of evidence of ANY kind.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 21, 2004 4:37 PM | Permalink

No one could accuse Amy Goodman of being in the tank for Kerry. That would be really funny. And a confession of ignorance.

And Democracy Now meets the alternative model many have been promoting of stating their biases out front: they are opposed to capitalism, the criminalization of labor organizing, colonialism, and unsustainable destruction of the environment. That agenda doesn't have a friend in Kerry or Bush.

It is refreshing to address reports from a non-MSM, non-party supported media outlet on this page for once.

Democracy Now may be the only model of independent, non-party affiliated reporting that actually functions in N. America. I hope we can discuss their work more regularly in future.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 21, 2004 4:47 PM | Permalink

"Liberal" MSM pandering for Bush again. This has been going on ALL YEAR LONG:

Dueling headlines
by kos
Thu Oct 21st, 2004 at 18:46:23 GMT

AP Poll: Bush, Kerry in Dead Heat

[...] In the AP-Ipsos Public Affairs poll, the Democratic ticket of Kerry and Sen. John Edwards got support from 49 percent of those who said they were likely to vote, and the Republican team of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney got 46 percent, within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Reuters Poll: Bush Grabs One-Point Lead on Kerry

President Bush opened a slight one-point lead on Democratic rival John Kerry in a tight race for the White House, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Thursday.

So to recap, a three-point Kerry lead is a "dead-heat", but a one-point Bush lead is a "slight lead".

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 21, 2004 5:19 PM | Permalink

Sure the MSM loves ambiguity. that's why they talk up polls that show a close race, and ignore polls that don't.

But, there's no doubt the MSM has a strong liberal bias either. Just look at the fake memo scandal at CBS and Evan Thomas's statement that the MSM wants John Kerry elected.

In that light, asserting that the Swift vets and Stolen Honor vets are not crdible because the MSM did not pick up on their story is ludicrous. They didn't pick it up because they don't want anybody to hear about it. Fortunately, we no longer hace to rely on the MSM to find out what's going on in the world.

Posted by: Eye Doc at October 21, 2004 7:27 PM | Permalink

eye doc,
Link to ONE example of the MSM ignoring poll results that weren't close. One.

Bush by ten points was the headline for weeks. Put up or shut up.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 21, 2004 7:54 PM | Permalink

Hey Ben Franklin,

I agree that Amy Goodman has a different agenda from John Kerry, having listened to her show since before the reconquista of Pacifica.

Don't think she's pro-Kerry, but ABB and her shows are overwhelmingly anti-Bush. Negative campaigning. Are you suggesting that she criticizes Kerry's positions on "killing the terrorists", supporting Israel (last week in Fla.),his and Teresa's investments or his since retracted "seared" memory of his "defining" moment in Cambodia? Wouldn't an anti-capitalist object to a billionaire? Havne't heard it from Goodman.

You're right that she's upfront about being anti-capitalist et al. and deserves kudos for being honest. More than what most of the media is doing.

What's she's not upfront about is her support for totalitarianism/elitism if it opposes her views. And this from a show called "Democracy Now"? Did you see her contract with Pacifica that forbids Pacifica to criticize her or her show? Advocacy journalism at its' best.

I'm glad that another point of view is out there. I'm sorry that Goodman seems to be infected by the same celebrity/ego bug of the traditional media anchors/columnists. But you're right that she admits some of her biases. On the other hand, have you ever heard her issue a correction?

Goodman has been very successful at separating from Pacifica to further her aims and personal goals. Accomplishment noted.

Posted by: Oldtom at October 21, 2004 7:58 PM | Permalink


In my response to our friend Ben, in paragraph four, where I said "... if it opposes her views..." should read "...where it supports her views...".

My bad, sorry.

Posted by: oldtom at October 21, 2004 8:11 PM | Permalink

Go Cardinals!

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 21, 2004 11:40 PM | Permalink

Amazing collection of people who feel as I do. There are vast numbers now.

If Sinclair is calling this straight news, and it turns out to be a hit piece (i.e. Dan Rather style news like he used on the Swiftees in May), then that would be wrong. The fact that this a normal practice for the MSM is not an excuse. That the MSM has fallen down on their responsibilities and become a mouthpiece for part of the left side of the political spectrum doesn't mean it is justified.

Apparently, contrary to my opinion, Sinclair is calling this news. It will be interesting to watch, except I don't get the station here.

I will say this: the veterans believe what they say, and they are witnesses to what happened in the Hanoi Hilton. The Swift Boat veterans are the same way. The media rejection of Swift Boat reports was based on some remarkably plastic criteria. I have seen some of the claims muddied (not all), but I have seen none of them refuted. I suppose muddied is the equivalent of unproved, no disproved) To the MSM the whole thing is nonsense, the Swifties are lying if they are against Kerry and telling the truth otherwise. Interesting standard of truth. I don't believe the fact that all of his commanders pronounced him unfit for command has become widely known, even though it is dramatic and unprecedented. Thanks, MSM - voters just might care to hear that - it's like lying on your CV to leave that out.

Let's see what Sinclair does.

John Moore

Vietnam Veterans for the Truth

Posted by: John Moore (Useful Fools) at October 22, 2004 3:30 AM | Permalink

That warning by the political operative should cause people to ask: Is Kerry another Nixon?

Posted by: John Moore (Useful Fools) at October 22, 2004 3:32 AM | Permalink

If Hyman is typical of the people now working for the CIA, God help us.

His commentaries are the silliest stuff I've been exposed to since I quit watching Crossfire after its first episode.

This guy--assuming he writes his own material--has the rhetorical, analytical, and argumentation skills of an 8th grader.

If he doesn't write his own material, he's an idiot for reading it on the air.

The chief premise of Stolen Honor seems to be that John Kerry prolonged the Vietnam War and the suffering of POWs by publicizing war atrocities that had been reported to him by other veterans.

I do not follow this 'logic'. I'm also aware that Sinclair and Sherwood do not clarify that Kerry was reporting to the Senate what he was told during the Winter Soldier hearings, rather than making accusations of his own.

It is also clear from what Chomsky would call 'the historical record' that atrocities were committed in Vietnam by American soldiers. Anyone who needs to examine this fact may do so by reading about the court martial of Lt. William Calley, or about the variety of atrocities reported in the Toledo Blade's Pulitzer Prize-winning series on that subject.

The claims that atrocities didn't happen, or that Kerry accused 'all' his comrades in the Navy, or just in the Swift Boat service, are unsupported by the facts.

The attacks against Kerry are non sequiturs, outbursts of hysteria, and bitter complaints over the pain and suffering of the war itself. I don't believe that Kerry is 'guilty' of doing anything more than telling the truth.

But the Sinclair Broadcasting Group isn't interested in promoting a wider understanding of the truth. The SBG is grinding an axe in a political season for financial gain.

Posted by: Jon Koppenhoefer at October 22, 2004 4:15 AM | Permalink

This may have been covered in the comments to your previous post, but I can't understand why you would want Kerry to go on Sinclair himself. They could easily set up an interview that would make him look extremely unpresidential, no matter how good his case really is. Have you ever seen anyone come off well in a 60 Minutes "hit" type interview?

Stolen Honor is a scurrilous movie that Kerry should not take seriously or encourage others to take seriously. Appearing himself on the network gives the movie more credibility just by his presence.

Posted by: MQ at October 22, 2004 8:16 AM | Permalink

Excellent write-up. I expect this to help highlight the issues and Kerry.

Posted by: George at October 22, 2004 11:26 AM | Permalink

Just As SBVT Defend an Imaginary Vietnam War,
Bush Supporters Support an Imaginary Bush:

University of Maryland Survey once again establishes the vast majority of Bush's supporters are reality challenged.

(Charles Schumer's investigation shows Douglas Feith repeatedly lied to Congress on this topic in direct contradiction to the intelligence assessments he claimed to be presenting.)

When Bush's actual policies differ from their own view on internatinal support, treaties, labor standards,and the environment, they insist on imagining that he thinks as they themselves do in direct contradiction to administration policies and actions that are already facts on the ground They support an idealized image with different policies than the man they plan to vote for.

Program on International Policy Attitudes courtesy of Steve de Soto:

Thanks to the tip from commenter DEK, we find confirmation of what many of us suspect all the time: Bush supporters, for whatever reason, are extremely misinformed about what their candidate stands for and are ignorant about the world around them. A study released just today by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes concludes that Bush supporters falsely ascribe to Bush positions that are opposite of what he stands for, and have a view of Iraq WMDs and Al Qaeda that reflect gross ignorance of reality...
Kerry supporters are much more accurate in their perceptions of his positions on these issues.

Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61% assume that in this case the President would not have.

Kull continues, "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 22, 2004 11:37 AM | Permalink

I think Mark Tapscott might be misinterpreting Chad Clanton's comment and overreacting accordingly. If Clanton indeed was addressing the issue of content, I'd be worried, too, but I don't he was.

I think that he was hinting at installing FCC commissioners who might revisit ownership limits. And based on the reaction last year to the decision to let chains acquire more stations, the public might well consider that a good idea. And with all due respect to Tapscott, such a decision would have no First Amendment implications.

Posted by: Lex at October 22, 2004 12:05 PM | Permalink

My husband is a Vietnam vet who has been mostly silent for 35 years about his experience there. He went as an Illinois farm boy and was disgusted by the behavior of many (and no one, including John Kerry, is saying all) American soldiers. My husband has spent all this time struggling alcoholism and other problems, but fortunately was not one of the hundreds (thousands?) who committed suicide or had to deal with effects of the chemical weapons the U.S. military used there (and which the U.S. government tried to deny benefits for).

He recently has begun to write and talk about some of the things for which he feels most ashamed. He describes the use of young girls for prostitutes. He held a gun on a handcuffed prisoner while an M.P. beat the guy severely. He witnessed U.S. soldiers having their pictures taken (laughing and joking) with bodies of enemy fighters. Some of the more gruesome stories are unprintable, but one that is particularly disturbing to me is of soldiers using the eye sockets of living prisoners for sexual release.

I agree that it's time that Vietnam vets be heard and honored. For that matter, I wish all veterans would tell the truth about war.

Posted by: V Diane at October 22, 2004 12:11 PM | Permalink


I'm sure not all Nam vets were as bad as your husband, and some were even worse. But come on, Nam vets *have* been heard--it sometimes seems as if they'll never shut up. Vietnam has intruded pointlessly in the last FOUR elections (counting this one). And to what end?

I know the boomer cohort finds everything about itself just fascinating, but I do wish more of them would try living in this present instead of wallowing in this morose self-pity and pointless agonizing. In a few days we will cast votes that appear to me to have more significance than Kerry's political protests in the 70s or whether Dubya put in his time on some National Guard base around that time.

I might add I'm profoundly disappointed in the way Jay has been focusing on Sinclair (in his latest post he can barely contain his sneers, which are increasingly slipping into sneers about the Right as a whole), which are a strange mixture of naivete (he thinks there's something notable about Sinclair editing Kerry's remarks to suit its ends, as if this isn't one of the basic tactics of TV journalism) and contempt.

What is particularly strange is that it is focused on such an unworthy target--Sinclair's actions are momentous mainly to those who have been aching for someone conservative to beat up since Rather's phony memos (among other shenanigans) gave the press a black eye. Sinclair strikes me as a bunch of political dabblers way out of their depth and the schemes of that lot never really amount to much. I mean is there really so little going on in the press right now that Sinclair should get exclusive focus? Obviously it's Jay's right to do whatever he wants with his space, but the question does sort of linger over this mini-uproar.

Posted by: Brian at October 22, 2004 1:33 PM | Permalink

This insistance that propagandists have something of value to "say" belies the intent of the message. In my television viewing area, the Sinclair stations do not produce ANY news programs of either a local or national nature. The only news program aired is a one hour daily segment of "CBN" with Pat Robertson's expert commentary about the world accompanying attempts at news reporting. What kind of credibility does that commitment to "news" reflect about the Sinclair stations?

This broadcast will fuel the demands for a return to the Fairness Doctrine, something Republicans torpedo with every opportunity. I'm afraid I've seen nothing on my Sinclair stations to even begin to imply an ability to air anything resembling "news." Of course, I might reconsider that notion if they'd show a documentary on televangelists, followed by interviews with President Bush about the contradictory stories concerning his connection with Rev. Moon and godly Pat.

Posted by: kbm8795 at October 22, 2004 1:57 PM | Permalink

V Diane,
Everyone in the highly contested debate on Vietnam veteran suicide agrees the numbers are in the thousands. The debate is over whether the number is several thousand, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands.

Suicide Wall. A website dedicated to memorializing Vietnam Vets who took their own lives, gathering accurate statistics, and preventing further suicides among vets. According to this site, estimates for suicides of Vietnam vets range from 20,000 to 200,000.

NBC's "Dateline" for July 5, 1998, cited an estimated 9,000 to 60,000 veteran suicides after the war.

Michael Kelly estimates 3,750.

Vietnam War Resource Guide. Excellent resource documenting the official government position and various perspectives on the war and related cultural debates (such as the difficulty of discussing the war, Hollywood films):

Law and the Vietnam war from the perspective of the Army command:

Study that seeks to gather data to clarify the status and causes of suicide among Vietnam vets:

Australian study showing increased suicide rates among the children of Vietnam veterans:

Comment from a Vietnam veteran who counsels Vietnam vets for traumatic stress on the Pentagon's transparent manipulation of figures on psychological health in Iraq:

Link for a conservative take on Vietnam and the Cold War as a noble cause that puts most of the responsibility for problems on the North and South Vietnamese:

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 22, 2004 2:01 PM | Permalink

Even taking at face value what "Stolen Honor" purports to say, it reveals a lot about Kerry's character that he is so careful not to point out the abuses in today's war; even Abu Ghraib is conspicuously absent from his rhetoric. He knows the impact of words on the morale of soldiers, how words can literally mean the difference between life and death, as Bush's "bring em on" comment (and of course, so many others) vividly showed.

As much as I'd like the MSM to tell us the truth about this war, anyone can find out if they really want to, just like anyone could have easily known in advance that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction despite what the press said. People just choose not to, that is their right, and there's nothing we can do about it.

For the issue is always deeper than the truth: are we able to forgive ourselves for the evil we help commit when "we know not what we do"? Can we face our shame in believing the lies that brought us away from a world of love and community into one where we (or our countrymen) killed on command? Kerry as a warrior is very familiar with these questions. He knows, like Ike before him, that reconciliation will be the key to solving so many of the problems that face us today. He knows the complete repudiation of US military power the perfect storm of Iraq has rendered on us cannot be covered over indefinitely, we must begin the new paradigm of working together for a common good before the forces of evil that we have created by our actions completely overtake all that is so great in this nation.

Posted by: wisdomchild at October 22, 2004 2:47 PM | Permalink

Ben Franklin, Are you sure you did not get struck with lightning? I'm a retired U.S. Army Infantry Officer and I do not know a single person who committed atrocities in Vietnam. And speaking of fabrication; remember the "documentary" that Rather made where the supposed sniper/assassin “killed and skinned forty South Vietnamese civilians in ‘about and hour’”. You do a great disservice to yourself and to the veterans of the Vietnam era when you promulgate the lies of the Vietnam anti-war movement. And, the Pentagon does not have “thousands of documented atrocity reports”.

Posted by: dan brooks at October 22, 2004 3:01 PM | Permalink

Apparently the flacks for Sinclair went to the same school of spin as the RNC boys. Just like Bush could say "Iraq" and "9/11" in the same breath over and over again so it would be ingrained in people's minds as being connected, but then Bush could still deny he ever specifically made a connection, these folks play the game of, "Why is everyone trying to stifle these poor POW's' free speech rights? We're trying to bring the TRUTH to the PEOPLE."

It's so cynical and so blatant and so insulting. And then we get the pundits here who toe the party line, dutifully pointing their fingers at the "liberal" MSM, saying that this is just turnabout and therefore fair play. (Never mind the fact that saying one hand that it's "TRUTH" and then saying two wrongs make a right is contradictory.)

It's a terribly disheartening situation to me. Let's face this one fact right now: If the MSM (or even the underground media) was so intent on bringing down George W. Bush all they would have to do is unite and defy his "sanitized war pictures" edict. Within a week of America's seeing dismembered GI's and children Bush's popularity would be a mirror of what it is in Britain and Kerry would be elected in the biggest landslide in history.

Posted by: Alejo at October 22, 2004 3:09 PM | Permalink

Brian: I was shocked and alarmed by what CBS was doing, so I stayed on it, and wrote 4-5 pieces, which were increasingly critical. I feel I helped give CBS a black eye.

Now I'm shocked and alarmed by what Sinclair did, so I stayed on it, and I've written 4-5 pieces, which have been increasingly critical. I hope they help give Sinclair a black eye.

More going on than Sinclair? Hell yes. There's way too much going on, besides this. All of it big, complicated. Our political and press history have accelerated lately. Too much happening, non-stop.

Sneering at Sinclair? I am guilty of that. They deserve that, and far worse. I don't make any statements (at all) in the piece about the Right as a whole, so I don't know what "increasingly slipping into sneers about the Right as a whole" means.

On Sinclair editing Kerry's remarks to suit its ends, you misread it. I'm saying what you're saying: Smith and Hyman wanted their chance to do with Kerry footage exactly what CBS and Mike Wallace would do with David D. Smith footage-- edit and select for maximum wallop.

MQ: I didn't suggest that Kerry sit for an interview that Sinclair could chop up. I said don't do that. Instead negotiate a live, one-hour program, one-on-one with the super-confident, super-articulate, world-traveled Mark Hyman, Vice President for Corporate Affairs at Sinclair and the man the company has chosen as its embodiment. No editing.

Wisdomchild: I like your writing. Please return.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 22, 2004 3:25 PM | Permalink

dan brooks,
wishing doesn't make it so. I blame the policies, and the GUILTY soldiers who have not been prosecuted or held accountable. It is the cover-up that makes all soldiers look guilty.

Just because I haven't committed murder doesn't mean I pretend that no one else has and actively obstruct prosecution and identification of murderers.

This link will lead you to a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia who has been looking at "hundreds if not thousands" of atrocities identified in Pentagon documents, generally not prosecuted and even less often punished. You can't simply wish away Pentagon documents.

Apparently we need a truth commission on Vietnam, because militant ignorance of the facts seems to be the rule. Accepting difficult truths is a sign of maturity, not disgrace.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 22, 2004 4:14 PM | Permalink

wisdom child,
In your post, I sense a deep identification with Kerry as both a veteran with a conscience who knows the price of war and as a "responsible" leader who knows force is often necessary, especially in times when it has recently been misused.

I see the former as a virtue and the latter as a failing. I see US force in Iraq as the problem itself, and the de-Americanization of the conflict as the key. Kerry also gestures in this direction, in between avoiding mention of Abu Ghraib and trying to be a better hawk than Bush.

It's almost as if you identify with Kerry's conflict as an imperialist capitalist with a conscience, as a liberal imperialist. Reconciliation is a great thing. Using US force to create more suffering that will require even more reconciliation is counterproductive. How do you square this circle?

If everyone who is ignorant is ignorant by choice (and judging by my parents this may be a very large category) what can productively be done about it? Isn't there some larger force that persuades them it is logical or ethical or patriotic to refuse to face facts? I sense an almost passive acceptance or even patriotically motivated acceptance of this situation in your post.

I think perhaps the greatest obstacle we face in creating a reality-based political culture is the press and media attitude expressed in John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: "When the legend becomes the reality, print the legend."

Too much of our political discourse takes myth as its point of departure on both the Republican and the Democratic side. And apparently that is necessary to get votes from a mythically disinformed voting public.

Shouldn't we at least aspire to a reality-based politics? I have the impression you are resigned to (or even strategically supportive of) myth-based politics. Am I right about that? If so, why? If not, what did I miss?

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 22, 2004 4:32 PM | Permalink

All you rabid cheap-labor conservative wingnuts need to take Bill O'Reilly's advice and just "SHUT UP!" Your idea of debate is shrill and endless repetition of tired GOP talking points without even listening to any opinion which does not coincide with your own. All reasonable media have long ago dismissed the SwiftVets and thoroughly discredited their allegations. Kerry doesn't NEED to respond to this rubbish because he's going to win big in November...and whether you like it or you don't, you'd just better learn to live with it. Your dry-drunk frat boy went 0-3 in the debates; JK beat him like a gong and no matter how much fear Darth Cheney tries to promulgate between now and election day, it simply won't do them any good. They're finished. The American majority knows now that the emperor has no clothes and they're fed to the teeth with his out-of-touch behavior; he's a rigid ideologue whose time is past. What Sinclair had better watch out for is what could happen to them when they try to expand their little two-bit empire...or when their licenses come up for renewal. They've made a mistake trying to play partisan politics with the big boys and they're goind to find out exactly how frozen revenge can be served. It's gonna cost 'em.

Posted by: Angel Of Mercy at October 22, 2004 4:44 PM | Permalink

Go, bro!!

Posted by: Toejam at October 22, 2004 4:46 PM | Permalink

Jon Koppenhoefer

I do not follow this 'logic'. I'm also aware that Sinclair and Sherwood do not clarify that Kerry was reporting to the Senate what he was told during the Winter Soldier hearings, rather than making accusations of his own.

Since my answer contains a lot of material that would be redundant here, please go to here on my comment overflow blog. Suffice it to say that this view of Kerry's action is naive and incorrect.

V Diane
Chemical weapons were simply not used in Vietnam (they may have used tear gas, which is not rated as a chemical weapon).

It sounds like your husband was in a very poorly led unit. Which one was it?


Kerry brought Vietnam into this election. It would have come up anyway. If there is something about Vietnam a candidate can use, they do. As for morose self-pity and agonizing, that isn't a characteristic of Vietnam vets that I know. The vast majority of us are just people with normal lives. One thing Kerry did was create the impression that really large numbers of VIetnam Veterans were screwed up by the war. You have fallen for it.

Kerry did trigger the release of anger and frustration, because of his behavior back then. It goes to character and hence is relevant. There is a reason that the US Army polls 3-1 against Kerry, and veterans are strongly against him - even if they are not right wingers. Naturally, the most visible group is the Swift Boat people. I know a number of these guys, and they aren't wallowing in anything. They're fighting back against one of their own who betrayed them. They aren't crazy, wild-eyed or damaged. They are middle aged men who have been leading lives unrelated to Vietnam. John O'Neil didn't get to be 1st in his law school class and build a large and successful corporate litigation practice by focussing on the past.

I have mentioned before that I don't know why people are so upset about Sinclair. It makes no sense to me. They might sway some votes (good). Another bunch of "pollitical dabblers," the Swift Boats Veterans for Truth completely removed Vietnam from Kerry's assets. Politics is for the people, not just the pros. And the good news is that the people can still make a difference.


This broadcast will fuel the demands for a return to the Fairness Doctrine, something Republicans torpedo with every opportunity. Of course it will. The left always tries to silence opposing speach in the media, because overall the media is strikingly favorable to the left. They tried to bring the FD back to silence Limbaugh.

If a Fairness Doctrine reappears, those of us on the right are going to insist on the same amount of time on the air as the network news, to be against it.

The Fairness Doctrine was a dangerous law that stifled First Amendment rights. The result was the lack of political debate on TV especially, and on radio. Is that what we want? It would certainly favor the left, of course. After all, how do you define fair? It would quickly turn into equal time for opposition, which itself leads to the problem of how many oppositions are there that should have their equal time. Do we have a government commission looking at a news show and saying "this one is fair" but "this one is biased against child molesters so NAMBLA should get equal time?"

BF - you have to be careful on veteran suicides, since many mentally ill people pretent to be veterans. As many as 80% of the veterans you see among the homeless are imposters.


I would love to know how we would know about the WMD's first hand. But please answer here - I doubt if our webmaster wants a side discussion like that.Otherwise, I think you look at the world like a flower-child, which is pretty but incorrect.

Alejo The FACT is that Vietnam veterans do want to be heard. And if anyone has earned that right, it is the POWs. That isn't cynical. This is a democracy and if people want to be heard, and they find a way to get the word out, who the hell are you to deny them.

Jay As a member of the right, I don't recall you slipping into sneering at us all. I don't even know if you feel like it inside.

You disagree with us, and you use some strong verbiage against some of our groups (especially your attacks on the Swiftees).

And I still don't know, after all this, what Sinclair has committed to make this such a fuss. And why is it such a fuss when we hear nothing about Howard Stern's using the public's airwaves to try to switch his listeners to Bush as part of his little plot to get big bucks (and man, those are BIG bucks - $100,000,000/yr) by moving to satellite?

Angel of Mercy
Pleases study two words: maturity and appropriate

Posted by: John Moore (Useful Fools) at October 22, 2004 5:19 PM | Permalink

As a Vietnam Vet I have to say that having read the transcripts from the sworn testmony that I personally witnessed some of the very atrocities that John Kerry addressed before the committee. I still have nightmares. Considering what I myself had experienced through two tours of duty. I highly respect John Kerry. I should point out that until this year I have constantly voted Republican. As we are currently at war I feel that only a man who has experienced combat first hand can truly understand the many conflicts and dangers whether physical or mental. With that I can not support President Bush. How can a man who has never been shot at or had to shoot at the enemy ever hope to know what a soldier deep in the trenches is truly feeling. That this seems to be looking alot more like Vietnam and that the current administration which has just too many ties to the companies whose sole survival is the propagation of conflict. No matter what the history books may say the conflict in Vietnam was lobbied and supported by the same type of companies that are involved today. As for me and my family we have decided to just turn him off and too make our displeasure known by refusing to use any product manufactured by any Sinclair advertiser for a period of 1 year. The only way to hurt President Bush and others of his kind is in the pocketbook. No matter who you intend to vote. Please remember to do so.

A Vietnam Vet for Kerry

Posted by: David at October 22, 2004 8:17 PM | Permalink


Your anger in this piece is palpable, which for your essays is pretty rare. In fact the last time I think I read honest anger in one of your essays was "Die Strategy News!" Well maybe I added the exclaimation point your piece didn't have.

Anyway I think you may have it. Sinclair had this little master plan that got exposed, which forced them to change their master plan. One thing I keep coming back to is what would have happened if they hadn't been leaked. There have been something like two weeks from the time the story was leaked until tonight. What if they had just quietly pre-empted programming the day before?

Then again you make a case that showing the movie was not their first choice. Anyone watch The Simpsons? The "cut-and-paste 60 Minutes" reminds me of the Simpson episode where Homer is accused of "ass-grabbing" the babysitter. So he goes on a "investigative news-like program." And says "So I grabbed her sweet candy" which got changed into "I grabbed her sweet can...."

My favorite part was the end when they said "Dramatization....may not have happened."

Posted by: catrina at October 22, 2004 9:10 PM | Permalink


Did you report the atrocities you saw or try to prevent them? Were they common or rare in your unit? Were the atrocities war crimes, or the non-war-crime that Kerry considers a war crime - the use of .50 cal against humans? Is there a reason we should believe you in a world where phony Vietnam Vets are a dime a dozen?

As for the argument that only a combat veteran can lead the country in a war, then presumably you consider FDR to have been a bad leader. It is a specious argument. Being a combat veteran is a very wide swath, from people in the thick of hand-to-hand to a pilot who took AAA fire. How about a policeman? Should you have had command of a large unit, or been a frontline grunt? Why do so many combat veterans oppose Kerry?

Why did we not hear this when Clinton ran for president? He ran against a decorated war hero in 1992 and 1996. They didn't go around spouting off about it either. And Bush Senior, after being shot down, refused a two week leave and made it back to his ship where he was shot down again. In between times he was depth charged. Did you, a professed combat veteran, vote for him? Do you criticize Bush's service after having not critized Clintons dishonest manner of ducking it entirely?

Does anyone on here?

Consistency seems to be a bit weak here.

Posted by: John Moore at October 22, 2004 11:29 PM | Permalink

My apologies, that post was supposed to go here with only a link to it.

Posted by: John Moore at October 22, 2004 11:34 PM | Permalink

The issue of whether Kerry wwas lying or not has been raised by the press, and plays against the accusations made by most POWs in Stolen Honor...

Does anyone on here?

Consistency seems to be a bit weak here.

It is a fact that we committed atrocities in Vietnam. More atrocities were committed than reported. It is also a fact that all wars have some number of atrocities.

The important question about American atrocities is were they policy, were there attempts to prevent them, and was the number unusually high for a western power. The answer is that that they were against policy, commanders tried to prevent them and about 200 Americans were convicted of war crimes by the military, and the number was not at all unusual for a civilized army.

Kerry's accusations, and this applies to the press since it is now trying to shore them up, were sweeping. His 1971 presentation and other activities were meant to give the message that America at war was evil, more evil than the enemy (whom, you will note, he ignores on this isue), and that therefore we should surrender. That is the gist of it. In doing so, he made many sweeping generalizations that, while supposedly resulting from the Winter Soldier investigation, were clearly aimed at much broader applicability. "A monster of millions..." - that applies to everyone who was ever in Vietnam. It can be read no other way.

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

What does that say? There is no way Winter Soldier could produce that information. And by the way, I hear arguments on press think about American journalistic standards and how high they are, and how low is the credibility of the attackers. How many of those same people accept Winter Soldier as a meaningful event? What kinds of standards are these?

Another point that is almost never heard, and most Americans don't know, is that the enemy committed atrocities on a wide scale as a matter of policy. It was how they maintained control of villages - the village chief does the wrong thing, and his kids are killed in front of him, his wife dismeboweled, and then he is killed. That was what they did, that was their policy, and I defy anyone to make a case that the United States had any sort of policy like that. Tens of thousands were killed just by this particular policy.

We heard about the fallacy of limited vision. That applies to those claimining widespread American atrocities also. If David claims his experience is typical, he would be wrong. But he has no first hand way to know that.

Posted by: John Moore at October 22, 2004 11:36 PM | Permalink

What did you think of the broadcast?

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 22, 2004 11:47 PM | Permalink

I finally got to see Stolen Honor - not the Sinclair broadcast but the original documentary (actually I saw a little of it and read the transcript at Daily Kos - will watch the rest later).

In summary, this piece is more honest that the typical 60 minutes piece. Having watched 60 minutes over the years find a subject, dig out a bunch of facts that can be woven, often dishonestly, into a narrative that gives an extremely negative view of someone, I consider this documentary to be of a higher quality of truth (including the messages conveyed by the images behind the voice-overs than I expect from the typical 60 minutes story). It is also more accurate and less polemical than CBS's report on the very first Swift Boat press conference, widely ignored by the press.

60 minutes and this documentary are one sided. This does not try to be balanced either, which is different from not being accurate. What it does is allow people to hear the opinions (and that is obviously what they are in some places - they aren't masquerading as facts) from some of the bravest Americans who suffered greatly in the Vietnam War. Even the creator of the documentary is a combat veteran (look hard for those at 60 minutes). In fact, by David's standards, he is one of the few journalists qualified to work on war stories.

But putting aside that last snarky remark, I found no lies in this. I heard some incorrect opinions about the probable relationship between Kerry's activity and subsequent negative events expressed by some POWs.

Back to the documentary. Many think Kerry prolonged the war. It is an assertion of General Giap, the North Vietnamese supreme commander, that he would have sued for peace in 1968 after Tet, until he saw the reaction of the American media (who took a crushing victory and reported it as a crushing defeat) and the anti-war movement. At that point, they decided to focus their effort on winning in the US, not in the battlefield.

The antiwar movement became one of their primary weapons, and the coordination between Kerry and the North (including a secret meeting he does not mention at his Senate hearing, and meetings by others in VVAW) suggests strongly that Kerry and his group were acting consciously to push support for that enemy tactic, and meeting to coordinate (and perhaps get funds, but I know of no evidence of that, although the KGB provided a lot of money, often by false flag, to the antiwar movement).

In that sense, it was the usual suspects (MSM and anti-war group) who caused war and the captivity to last past 1968. I personally hold the US media responsible for all deaths in Vietnam after 1968. Journalism can be a deadly weapon, and journalism practiced poorly can hurt an awful lot of people.

In 1970, when Kerry became active, the US was dominating the battlefield and peace might have been possible again.

The POWs give a simplified view, and I think exaggerate Kerry's role in terms of prolonging the war. But when they testify to their personal experiences that were a result of Kerry's action, they are providing information that most people are not aware of, and that the MSM sure as hell isn't going to report, because of it's acknowledged (here) bias.

But this work is quite honest. These guys are saying what they believe. They testify to real experiences, and it would be good for younger Americans to see this to understand why the "POW" have so much meaning - because of the inhumane torture they suffered for years.

As I have mentioned, I was trained to be a POW in SERE school, just in case. I was tortured for not saying things that could be used as propaganda. It was nothing compared to what those guys actually went through, but it has left me with a respect and sympathy for those men that is deep and I think well founded. When they are angry because Kerry implied that war crimes were normal events by US soldiers, these men had been tortured for years to say the same thing, and had held out and not said it. Then along comes Kerry and gives the enemy what they wanted all that time. I'd say the POWs have a damned good reason to be angry.

So my challenge to Jay and other is: why is this work at this time so wrong? Is it because you guys are Kerry supporters and this might be damaging to him?

Is there another reason that explains the way this has been hammered, while many direct journalistic coverups of anti-Kerry veteran supplied information isn't discussed in contact (although Rathergate was amusing... but I don't think I've seen a critical article on the insanity of the Bush National Guard gotcha exercise either. That was incredible journalistic excess).

Is it because you fear it will give a bad reputation to journalists? The campaign against it has done that, but the documentary shouldn't.

Is it because you don't like the narrator? From his self description it sounds like he might be someone who reports for Evangelical Christian outlets.

Does the accuracy of the piece matter?

Does it bother people here that the Kerry operation threatened Sinclair - saying that if they won, Sinclair would regret airing this? To me, that is the behavior of fascists, not democrats.

Finally, can anyone show that this piece is worse than a typical sixty minutes hit piece? If so, why?

Posted by: John Moore at October 23, 2004 12:08 AM | Permalink

I haven't seen it. Not in a Sinclair market. Waiting for someone who did see it to come here and make a report. I know from Net cruising that it was far more balanced than expected, with just as much from Going Upriver, including an interview with its director.

The voices at Free Republic, who gave the most detailed reports, were universally disappointed and disdainful about the "balance," or formulaic spinelessness that Sinclair showed. They also derided the production values and professionalism of Sinclair; this is the pro-Bush Free Republic site, the constituency for Stolen Honor. They're contemptuous of how Sinclair backed down, and they keep sticking up for the film, which they believe in.

General consensus was that the political effect would be nil, or maybe even help Kerry, because there were pro-Kerry veterans speaking about his anti-war work as much as the critics.

From what they have said, however, it appears that my prediction was off-- significantly so. A splendid demonstration of... well, of something. I had a lot of emails today about the broadcast, and from one of them I learned that the Sinclair team was up very, very late last night cutting the show, which had become a monster for the company.

It appears, and this is a premature judgment, because I haven't seen it, that someone decided, in the face of everything that had happened, to play it safe.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 23, 2004 12:13 AM | Permalink

It is a little late for commenters to ask what all the fuss was about when the Sinclair plan has morphed so radically in direct response to pressure the same commenters thought wrongheaded. You can't have it both ways. The Free Republic response sounds pretty honest, if sadly misguided.

On CNN's Anderson Cooper, they had a short segment where Howard Kurtz said the Sinclair show started out with the toughest charges from Stolen Honor and one of the Sinclair people directly calling Kerry a liar or a traitor, something along those lines.

Later on it had a segment about one sixth the length of the whole show that presented some clips from Going Upriver and some interviews with Kerry supporters. Kurtz said the time for the Kerry people was so limited that they were almost entirely playing defense.

I don't trust Howard Kurtz to do much beyond consistently cave in to Republicans (his gullibility was reestablished by Frank Luntz again last week), but that was the gist of his report for whatever it may be worth.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 23, 2004 12:35 AM | Permalink

It's funny the way folks have to make a show of balance. The MSM has a way of generating false balance - almost as if it's a formula. It sounds like that got foisted on Sinclair.

Well, too bad. Sinclair ran something that many considered a pro-Kerry program. It was not Stolen Honor.

I wonder if this was some plan from all along, or did the Nazi tactic's of Kerry's political goon scare them out of it.

I hope we find out.

Jay, you should be happy. It was not anti-Kerry. Of course, it was still political news.

I'm curious how you feel about it and what you know about this bait and switch?

Posted by: John Moore at October 23, 2004 1:04 AM | Permalink

Sinclair Airs Anti-Kerry Material (AP):

The program contained a few minutes from the documentary, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," as well as excerpts from a pro-Kerry documentary, interviews with veterans who support and oppose Kerry, and a segment on the impact of new media such as the Internet on politics. ... At the end of the program, a statement was scrolled on the screen asking viewers to let the Federal Communications Commission know if they agree with Sinclair's decision to broadcast the show.
Sinclair on

Jay wrote: Brian: I was shocked and alarmed by what CBS was doing, so I stayed on it, and wrote 4-5 pieces, which were increasingly critical. I feel I helped give CBS a black eye.

Now I'm shocked and alarmed by what Sinclair did, so I stayed on it, and I've written 4-5 pieces, which have been increasingly critical. I hope they help give Sinclair a black eye.

Interesting choice of verb tense. Not what CBS did, but what it was doing. Not what Sinclair might do, but what it did.

Except CBS did air an unbalanced political hit-piece using fake memos and then defend it for almost two weeks. And Sinclair? ... maybe not so much.

Posted by: Tim at October 23, 2004 1:31 AM | Permalink

Correction: The Howard Kurtz report on Sinclair was actually on Aaron Brown's show, not Anderson Cooper. Sorry about the confusion.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 23, 2004 10:30 AM | Permalink

On Z-Net, Mike Whitney has an interesting essay on Iraq as propaganda war, first starting with Rumsfeld's views and then working through the issue of Al Hurrah TV in its relation to the previous work of its manager, Norman Pattiz, previously head of Westwood One, the producers of Bill O'Reilly. He connects the structure of domestic corporate media directly to the Alhurra project.

Al Hurrah TV

by Mike Whitney October 23, 2004

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently opined, “The Iraq conflict is a war of perceptions”. His remark reflects his belief that events can be shaped simply by controlling the flow of information. Rumsfeld has been a major player in making sure that the Pentagon’s world view is writ large in America’s newspapers and TVs. He’s also made sure that stations that depart from his narrative of “benign US intervention” are punished for their defiance. (Both Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV were bombed twice) It’s all part of a greater “Information war” that is taken every bit as seriously as one being fought with tanks and guns. For Rumsfeld, whoever controls the message will control the outcome of the conflict...

So, it shouldn’t surprise us that the US has spent $62 million creating an Arab TV channel called Alhurra (the free one) to promote an American-friendly view of escalating violence in the Middle East. So far, it has been an abysmal failure with awful ratings and only marginal public interest. Never the less, American conservatives proved that propaganda is a long term investment that cannot be expected to produce dividends overnight...Cultivating a broad base of people who will accept the calculated “deceptions of the state” is critical in advancing a pro-business agenda.

Alhurra is clearly designed to mold public perceptions in a way that is favorable to America’s corporate and political interests...

This tells us a great deal about the media. The illusion of a “free press” is pure nonsense. America’s media giants are merely employees of the corporations who own them. (Many of them are directly connected to the financial, energy and weapons industries) For the sake of credibility they must ensure that the mask of objectivity never slips too far, but we can be certain that the stories they produce are carefully filtered through a corporate-friendly lens.

Alhurra is the brainchild of “Norman Pattiz, the California radio executive who created Westwood One, the nation’s largest radio network”. (Westwood One produces Bill O’ Reilly as well as other luminaries from the right) Pattiz also oversees the more traditional parts of the American propaganda system, including Radio Marti and The Voice of America. His mandate is to create media in the Middle East that is both sympathetic to American interests and that downplays the negative aspects of US foreign policy. It hardly needs mentioning, that the taboo on criticizing Israeli brutality in the territories is scrupulously maintained...

We don’t like to think of our televised news as propaganda...Never the less, what Pattiz is telling us, is that Al Hurra will apply the very same principles to its production as its American counterparts...The message...reflects, in the subtlest terms, the prevailing views of ownership and a narrative that supports that agenda. This imperial storyline is called a “balanced view”...

The process of public pacification has been called “manufacturing consent”; a subtle mode of controlling the masses through techniques that have been developed and perfected over the last century. Its part of a broader public relations scheme that is intended to transform the public into consumers...

This explains why the US has invested $62 million in a project that is aimed at placating the Arab public...Despite Pattiz’s claims of wanting to bring “balanced coverage” to the Middle East, no such desire exists. Al Hurra represents a secondary invasion; an army of media specialists and technicians who will eventually take the place of Abrams tanks and Bradley Armored vehicles. Their role, however, is much the same; to legitimize aggression and subdue the public. The corruption of information is just as crucial to the imperial mission as “boots on the ground.”

Free press, indeed. Modern media emanates from the epicenter of corporate power and is solely accountable to the boardroom taskmasters who determine its content. Al Hurra is no exception. It operates under the same hierarchal system of information management as media in the US; its motives are just more conspicuous.

Al Hurra’s place in the imperial arsenal is unsurprising. Propaganda is always a reliable partner of war and occupation. It provides the soothing background noise that accompanies the rape and destruction of entire civilizations. This brings us to the real purpose of commercial media which is to ensure the smooth transition of wealth from one group to another. All the tricks that are employed to achieve that objective are just variations on the same theme. The heart of the matter is the need to increase the level of capital accumulation and profit. Al Hurra is simply the logical extension of this system, no different than the torture camps at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib; all jewels in the imperial crown.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 23, 2004 11:07 AM | Permalink

I was pleasantly surprised the other day that the two Fox/Newsworld "You Decide" Bush and Kerry spots I saw actually seemed relatively fair. Will wonders never cease.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 23, 2004 11:52 AM | Permalink

Josh Marshall and Steve Soto are on the case about Cheney and Franks' bald-faced lies concerning administration strategy and Tora Bora. Revisionist campaigning at its finest.

It would be nice to see a press piece that seriously discussed strategy and results in the war on terror beyond this completely fantastic, "Did so!", "Did not!" camouflage the Rove machine is generating.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 23, 2004 11:58 AM | Permalink

Just to put the capitalist boardroom control of the press issue in perspective beyond Sinclair, the following appears in today's Editor and Publisher:

Bush gained eight papers today, with Kerry picking up just two. The president also nabbed two majors, the New York Post and The Washington Times.

He still trails the challenger in the number of papers backing him, by 59-53, and in the circulation of those papers, 9.5 million to 6.4 million. (See chart below.)

Many newspapers are expected to run their endorsement editorials on Sunday or shortly after. Among them are two closely watched papers in Ohio, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and The Columbus Dispatch. Both have long backed Republicans, reportedly have a lot of editorial-board support for Kerry, but also have conservative publishers with the final say who may have to exercise it.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 23, 2004 12:08 PM | Permalink

Building on my previous question, Jay, are you rhetorically distorting reality's map?

How Do You Know Where the Culture Says Don't Go?: "Consumption, then outrage: old pattern. Outrage during production, preventing the need to consume and get outraged: new. A further step on the same route would be outrage during movie conception, preventing the need for production and all the outrage it brings. ... We used to worry about entertainment values coming recklessly into news. Here it's a value from news--the "balanced" portrayal--coming recklessly into entertainment. ... It's CBS saying: nowadays we don't dare try to lead the culture anywhere it doesn't care to go. But then how do you know where the culture says don't go? That's what's different, Teachout says. You know instantly. Many more megaphones are around and the people who once had the only really big ones are being shouted at by the "disaffected," who have their own megaphones."

Of Course Ted Koppel Was Making a Political Statement. So What?: "Despite what he said about it, Ted Koppel and Nightline were making a political statement last night by reading the names of "the fallen" in Iraq. And there is nothing wrong with that-- although it is risky because many will object. (Koppel: "I didn't want it to be seen in any fashion as a political gesture.") By refusing to air the show, (Koppel said it was the first time that had ever happened) Sinclair Broadcasting, the country's largest owner of television stations, was making a political statement right back." (Koppel has since put several more political statements on the air as "news" including a third Kerry campaign ad attacking SBVT).

Hmmmmm ... Of Course [Sinclair] Was Making a Political Statement. So What? Funny. We didn't see that hed at PressThink. Sinclair became Agnew with TV stations.

Does CBS News Have a Political Future in This State?

Does [Sinclair] Have a Political Future in This State? Jay hoped not, calling for Sinclair's complete and total political defeat.

At the same time, CBS is secretly investigating itself while "Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, and Leslie Moonves, chairman of CBS Television and co-president of the CBS parent, Viacom, were allowed to define the scope of inquiry into events where they are implicated-- heavily so." Even announcing that the results will be delayed until after the election. Jay doesn't like that, but he despises calls for CBS News' political defeat.

This was Jay's call from PressThink to all hyper-rational bias hunters on the Left to express yourself using the paranoid style of politics (Agnew with TV stations) against a target on the Right.

Is this an issue of balance? No. A glance in the mirror? You bet.

Posted by: Tim at October 23, 2004 1:29 PM | Permalink

So the thugs turn out and threaten theater owners into not showning the film Other thugs turn out and threaten Sinclair into not showning the film.
Tell me again, guys, about freedom of the press and the Republican threat thereto. What books would you like to burn to celebrate? The left shows its true color once again.

Posted by: Orman at October 23, 2004 2:44 PM | Permalink

You're attempts to expose me are amusing, Tim.

Of course Sinclair was making a political statement. They have a right to do so, which is why I opposed FCC and FEC action against Sinclair, and opposed taking the company to court. They also have a right to face political defeat for the statement they planned to make with Stolen Honor, and this is pretty much what happened.

Sinclair I called Agnew with TV stations because the "statement" it wants to make with its news operations is the same statement Agnew made in his speeches against the "liberal media."

There was a political campaign to discredt Sinclair and a political campaign to discredit CBS. One largely worked, the other largely hasn't-- so far at least. You should be asking yourself why that is, instead of playing "gotcha" with me.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 23, 2004 2:51 PM | Permalink

Jay, are you disturbed at the threat from the Democrats - "you will be sorry if we win..."?

Are you disturbed by the threat of shareholder lawsuits?

Should shareholders go after CBS for Rathergate, which damaged the value of their news franchise?

In general, should shareholders go after the MSM companies, which by losing credibility through a constant left wing bias, are ultimtely going to lose value as alternatives arise? Is CNN as valuable a property as before FOX?

I find this behavior to be a dangerous precedent to start with. It is typical of the modern Democrat party to turn everything into a legal issue. Thy tried to silence the Swift Boats the same way - by filing lawsuits.

We can have a democracy where everything that is legal is common practice, which I find quite distasteful and dangerous (it empowers those who can afford to pay lawyesr, for one thing, and it removes approbrium from all legal behavior) or we can have one like we used to have, where there was a certain level to which presidential candidates did not stoop. The tactics used against the Swifties and Sinclair would appear to support the former. The outrageous charges against Bush by high levels of the Democrat party (calling him AWOL and deserter, for example) are similar.

Conservatives were partially defeated in the Sinclair situation, and since we, unlike the left, have few outlets for our side, it is particularly galling.

It is also galling for the education of many, because I suspect many Americans have no idea what the POW issue was about, that we had people who withstood torture for years. That is a nonpartisan piece of information that comes through very clearly and dramatically in the documentary.

The campaign against Sinclair was not political, it was intimidation.

Posted by: John Moore (Useful Fools) at October 23, 2004 4:58 PM | Permalink

John... has it ocurred to you that you can find every one of those arguments in the "after" section to my post? So, yes, I'm concerned.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 24, 2004 12:41 AM | Permalink

I must remind myself that your blog does something I have seen on ho others: it has an after section, so you can't tell the status of a discussion by simply reading the article once and then follow the comments.

Other than that, no, I don't find all those arguments in the after sections, and none of your opinions on them.

I was reminded, however, in discussion with a friend, that the right used some of those tactics to stop the Reagan documentary, so the situation is less one sided than I was thinking.

As to the propriety of what Sinclair was doing, there were last minute news stories in 1992 (indictments announced by a political prosecutor just before the 1992 election which may have changed the outcome) and the Bush drunken driver story in 2000. So this raises a question I haven't seen: if there is some sort of rule that running things like Stolen Valor close to the election is wrong, then how about repeating last minute news released by one side in the elections for the purpose of hitting late in the cycle?

I don't know how much of the battle against Stolen Valor was date related (which I consider a much more valid complaint, if both sides really do play by some standard there) and how much was an attempt to stop the broadcast in any case.

I never did understand why people think that there is something wrong with sinclair putting out that particular documentary, and how much was something else (calling it news? late in the campaign?).

Posted by: John Moore at October 24, 2004 4:37 AM | Permalink

There are several questions and comments for me that I'd like to answer.

(1) I realized after hitting the Submit button that my post sounded as if my husband participated in the crimes I mentioned, and I'm sorry for that impression. Most he merely observed. The one that he participated in was holding the gun on the handcuffed prisoner. He was actually a supply clerk who was recruited for that particular duty.

(2) Thanks for the information on the Suicide Wall. I was unaware of it.

(3) Agent Orange was a chemical weapon, whether you call it that or not. It may not have been intended for use directly on people, but its effect was that of a chemical weapon. Many human beings were exposed to it and other compounds, with disastrous results. For that matter, I would call destroying the vegetation in the countryside, on which civilians depended for a living, use of chemical weapons.

(4) I believe the person who thinks Vietnam is over and should now be forgotten is wrong. The more I read, the more it appears to me that the neocon movement arose out of the impotence that these guys felt because the U.S. didn't nuke the North Vietnamese into submission. They worship Reagan because he "made Americans feel good about themselves" after Vietnam. But Reagan's policies (funding and arming Bin Laden & Iran among them) are coming home to roost.

David Brock's book, Blinded by the Right, describes why he got in with the neocons(disgust with protestors at Berkeley). He admits to deliberately doing a lot of damage to Clinton by writing false information, which he now regrets. And so the war continues.

Ever seen the movie "Zulu"?

We have been very poor losers and in my opinion a little bit of humility would do us good. The Japanese have survived their defeat, after all.

(5) Vietnam Vets -- please, just tell the truth, and realize that each one of you had a different experience. Honor and forgive yourselves and each other.

Posted by: V Diane at October 24, 2004 9:05 AM | Permalink

Jay: Amused is good. I'd rather amused than annoyed.

Sinclair I called Agnew with TV stations because the "statement" it wants to make with its news operations is the same statement Agnew made in his speeches against the "liberal media."

In his Television News Coverage speech, Agnew never used the word liberal or talked about a "liberal media". When you use quotes around that phrase in the context of Agnew, are you using them as "so-called" quotes? Has Agnew become iconic for the modern phase of the 100 year struggle over mass media information?

Agnew complained that the 4th Estate in America was being manipulated by a handful of people in the mass media that were not representative of Americans and were being transparent about their bias. That the news was being self-censored and in such a way as to reflect the bias of a handful of ideologically self-reinforcing elites living in two or three major cities.

You wrote two essays suggesting the Bush administration operates with a similar understanding here and here. And, of course, there's Editor and Publisher Wants Answers: Are Newsrooms Too Liberal? Very Tricky Question.

In one essay, you are an advocate for greater voice in the press: a voice of authority, we said, transparency of ideology. In the next essay you rally the troops on the Left for the complete and total political defeat of the conservative voice in media, resurrecting apparitions of Agnew and Atwater.

There was a political campaign to discredt Sinclair and a political campaign to discredit CBS. One largely worked, the other largely hasn't-- so far at least.

I think that's not only premature but also a misreading of the facts. I think it also draws a map of reality that is not useful for moving forward.

Neither CBS nor Sinclair have been significantly damaged in the short term. The long term trend for CBS News is a death spiral compared to Sinclair, cable news networks and the Internet. I would guess that Hyman has better job security, even now, than Mapes or perhaps even Rather.

Both CBS and Sinclair came under attack. Both saw a temporary commercial impact of that attack. CBS was a big fish in a big pond compared to Sinclair. It is still very possible that Sinclair will emerge stronger while CBS News must survive the credibility of their in-house report and reverse a decades-long trend of shrinking audience, revenues and increasing distrust.

You should be asking yourself why that is, instead of playing "gotcha" with me.

Actually, I'm asking myself what Sinclair's next move might be. I see this as a battle in Sinclair's campaign for greater control over infrastructure and increased influence over content. A progression since challenging Koppel's Nightline. This was not a political defeat for them as much as a limited advance.

I'm trying to test my map of reality against yours. I find that much more useful than playing "gotcha" with you, or looking for reinforcement elsewhere, or parroting partisan agitprop - to the point of copying and pasting long sections from other blogs here.

But if the most I accomplish is amusing you, as opposed to offering a dialogue, I can live with that.

Posted by: Tim at October 24, 2004 11:13 AM | Permalink

John Moore: The concerns you raised are raised in this Wall Street Journal commentary, to which I linked.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 24, 2004 6:43 PM | Permalink

V. Dianne

(Jay, but I think this thread is dead enough that responding to a bunch of off-topic assertions should not be a proplem)

Agent Orange was a chemical weapon, whether you call it that or not. It may not have been intended for use directly on people, but its effect was that of a chemical weapon. Many human beings were exposed to it and other compounds, with disastrous results. For that matter, I would call destroying the vegetation in the countryside, on which civilians depended for a living, use of chemical weapons.

Since Agent Orange was believed to be safe when it was used, it could hardly be a chemical weapon. It was a short-term defoliant used not on productive fauna but on thick jungle. That it is slightly toxic to humans is apparently true, but the effect is so weak that it took decades and huge studies to be able to detect a hazard. That indicates an extremely weak toxin, and is typical of many chemicals in our society - expose enough people to it and some will get sick (typically certain kinds of cancer). As a tradeoff, it was correct. The American lives saved by defoliation was more than the number forecast to be taken by Agent Orange.

Don't fall for the hype - it was largely created by political forces and the lawyers looking for tasty class action suits.

(4) I believe the person who thinks Vietnam is over and should now be forgotten is wrong. The more I read, the more it appears to me that the neocon movement arose out of the impotence that these guys felt because the U.S. didn't nuke the North Vietnamese into submission. They worship Reagan because he "made Americans feel good about themselves" after Vietnam. But Reagan's policies (funding and arming Bin Laden & Iran among them) are coming home to roost.

The neocon movement arose when a number of leftist intellectuals saw what they perceived to be a moral bankrupcy of the left regarding the Vietnam War and especialy its aftermath, and/or a foreign policy that did not understand the dangers of communism and the USSR. John Kerry has never understood that danger, as indicated by his votes and his support of communist regimes in the '80s. Your blaming Reagan for Bin Laden and Iran is ludicrous - Jimmy Carter gave us the modern Iran. Reagan was a neocon, but John Kennedy was to the right of Reagan in almost every measure. By the way, nukes weren't needed. It was demonstrated in the Christmas bombing of 1972 that the Vietnamese could be easily beaten with some bombing restrictions removed. But even that bombing was targeted and accurate enough to be nothing as severe as a world war II bombing. The specific additional targets allowed then but not before were all military targets such as airfields, stockpiles of weapons, seaports, infrastructure, etc that had been off limits. That was combined with an embargo of Haiphong Harbor including a minefield. It only took 12 days of this for the North to plead for a cease fire.

We have been very poor losers and in my opinion a little bit of humility would do us good. The Japanese have survived their defeat, after all.

The problem with Vietnam, and why it raises such feelings after all these years is that we didn't lose the war, we forfeited it. Specifically, the left forfeited it. This has no parallel with Japan - their war was for imperial goals while Vietnam was for containment; they fought outside the rules of war, we did not. We owe apologies to the people of South Vietnam for abandoning them to a totalitarian tyranny. It is important to recognize that there were no refugees fleeing South Vietnam, but after the war at least a million have fled.

Within our country, those who forced the end of the war are still around, and that is the reason for the anger - brought up this year because of Kerry, who was one of them, is running and because he runs as a war hero. This brings Vietnam back. Most people haven't spent the intervening wars harboring grudges and mumbling about Vietnam. This year brought it all back.

Vietnam Vets -- please, just tell the truth, and realize that each one of you had a different experience. Honor and forgive yourselves and each other.

As a Vietnam Vet, I find this terribly offensive. It presumes we have something to forgive ourselves for. That is only true of a very small percentage of Vietnam Vets who committed atrocities. It presumes we are not telling the truth and that just isn't true. What truth? That there were atrocities? Of course there were and we know that. That Kerry was right in his speech of 1971 - no way - he lied in many areas of that and he phrased things in the way most damaging to our country and oursselves.

You have to understand that while we are disgusted with his dishonest acquisition of some of his medals (and he refuses to release all his records and the press doesn't push him), we are deeply and fundamentally angry at his anti-war activities and believe his attacks on his country disqualify him for any government job. He went beyond normal anti-war advocacy to lend his combat credentials to assertions that to this day hurt our country. He met with the enemy. We have many, many reasons to despise that man. We are also upset that the media gives such a one-sided portrayal, frantically investigating any charge made against him with a clear intent of disqualifying it, and not carefully investigating whether they might actually be true.

Don't you go telling us to forgive ourselves! How arrogant and how wrong. You might ask us to forgive those who gave away what we had won (the war). You might ask us to forgive those who tried to cause us to lose, which clearly includes John Kerry. But to forgive ourselves? We don't need to do that - that's one thing for sure.

There are many arguments about whether Vietnam was winnable. It was and that was demonstrated.

One group I will never forget is the main stream media (well, finally, something about journalism) who caused us to lose the opportunity to end the war with a win in 1968. The North Vietnamese decided to sue for peace after their disastrous losses of the Tet Offensive (from Giap's biography). Then they saw that the press covered it as a major defeat for the US, and that Americans were thus discourage. They made the decision to break the will of the United States since they saw how it was possible (Kerry helped significantly in this). Had the press reported Tet honestly, a huge number of lives might have been saved and South Vietnam might have free people.

Posted by: John Moore at October 25, 2004 2:00 AM | Permalink

I had a long response typed up but it got lost in cyberspace somewhere. Summary: there's a double standard tilted against Sinclair, and you've made a very weak case in favor of that double standard. But personally I'm sick to death of talking about Vietnam and talking about talking about Vietnam, and the soon-to-come talking about talking about talking about Vietnam.

News flash to V Diane: Vietnam ended 30 years ago. So, yes, it IS over and you're the one who's mistaken in believing otherwise, notwithstanding your totally fascinating personal situation. You and others have nothing new to say about, you just want to keep saying the same things over and over. Pardon me for not caring.

Posted by: Brian at October 25, 2004 8:40 AM | Permalink

John Moore,
have a look here and then go Cheney yourself.

Posted by: novakant at October 26, 2004 10:46 AM | Permalink

From the Intro