Accuracy in Media

My column on the media war, “Sinclair Vs. Sundance,” has been met with claims that the Sundance Channel can do what it wants, because it is a cable channel, and Sinclair Broadcasting cannot, because it operates on the public airwaves and is subject to federal “equal time” rules and regulations. This is supposed to explain why the liberal media have gone crazy over Sinclair’s planned airing of the film, Stolen Honor, and why they ignore Sundance showing hours of anti-Bush “Vote for Change” rock concerts, Al Franken’s radio show, and other partisan political programs.

While I have accepted the belief that Stolen Honor is anti-Kerry, the fact is that it does not advocate the election or defeat of any candidate. “Some of the people who are squawking the loudest about this have never seen the film,” Charlie Gerow told me. Gerow, who is a publicist for the film, adds, “That, in and of itself, speaks volumes.”

He explains, “It doesn’t say anywhere, ‘Vote against John Kerry.’ Nowhere in the film does it have anything to do with him as a candidate. It’s about him and his actions and the impact of his actions on American POWs. John Kerry is the one who made this a political issue, not Carlton Sherwood [the producer] or the courageous men in this film.

“Second, nobody has said there is one word in Stolen Honor that isn’t true. Nobody has said, ‘This is a bunch of lies. This is factually inaccurate. This isn’t true.’

“Third, what does John Kerry have to fear with the American people seeing this? What is he afraid of? Why is this a political boost to George Bush? This doesn’t say, ‘Vote for George Bush.’

“It’s a documentary of what Kerry said, and he said he was proud of saying it. That was his position. If he’s now changed his position, he should stand up and say so.”

Stolen Honor is as much a documentary or news program as 60 Minutes on CBS, which also operates on the public airwaves. You’ll notice that the critics of Stolen Honor were not screaming about CBS abusing the public airwaves in broadcasting the phony National Guard story using forged documents against Bush. They didn’t call for sanctions against CBS when that atrocity occurred. But they urge Federal Communications Commission or Federal Election Commission action against Sinclair.    

A professor named Tom Proietti compares Stolen Honor to Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11. If any broadcast station decided to show Fahrenheit 911, he said, it might be considered unfair or illegal. But that would depend, in part, on whether the Bush campaign was given a chance to respond. The Kerry campaign has been promised time to respond to Stolen Honor but has refused.

Stolen Honor describes how Kerry’s testimony about U.S. soldiers being war criminals contributed to the torture of our POWs. This may be deemed anti-Kerry, but it is nevertheless a factual account and documentary record of what these brave men suffered through. It is evidence of the mainstream media’s liberal bias that one of the major broadcasting news operations hasn’t aired a piece of this nature. Sinclair is performing a public service, providing absolutely critical information about Kerry’s record.  

If a broadcast network aired Fahrenheit 9/11 and gave the Bush campaign a chance to respond, the response would be devastating. The serious flaws in the film, even those documented by mainstream news organizations, would be exposed and Moore’s kind words about the terrorists in Iraq, posted on his own website, would be highlighted for the American people to see. Moore would be discredited.

It seems obvious that the liberals don’t want Stolen Honor to be aired because they fear it accurately captures the feelings of former POWs who believe that Kerry’s statements contributed to their torture. Liberals realize that Kerry can’t afford to accept the offer of airtime to respond because he can’t explain or won’t apologize for his testimony branding U.S. soldiers in Vietnam as war criminals.  

Stolen Honor is as newsworthy and factual as any CBS Evening News broadcast, only more so. And since Dan Rather’s broadcast is not subject to “equal time” provisions, why should airing Stolen Honor trigger government dictates to Sinclair? The controversy has demonstrated how the liberals, if they had political power, would use the government to intimidate and manipulate the media.

The Kerry campaign and its supporters want to decide what is “news.” To them, CBS and Dan Rather are acceptable, and the people behind Stolen Honor, including Vietnam veteran and journalist Carlton Sherwood, are not.    

This was demonstrated to be the case when Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton warned Sinclair Broadcasting, “They better hope we don’t win.” Where is the media outrage over this?

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