Liberal activists have drawn a bead on Sinclair Broadcast Group. Last October Sinclair found itself under fire after word leaked out that it was planning to air a bombshell anti-Kerry documentary called Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, about Kerry’s anti-Vietnam war activity contributing to the torture of our POWs. The film was going to air on all of their 62 stations, reaching 25 percent of the nation’s households, many of them in voter “swing” states before the election. The media became prime movers of Sinclair stock when a flurry of negative press ensued after liberal activists went on the attack.
By the time USA Today published “Sinclair takes a beating” on its Money page on October 18, Sinclair stock was down 12 percent. That decline occurred in just a week, after the Los Angeles Times revealed Sinclair’s plan. Overall, Sinclair’s stock was down 56.7 percent year-to-date, compared with the S&P 500’s rise of 0.2% for the year.
Sinclair had problems with left-wingers on another front–Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH coalition was trying to get the FCC to rescind some Sinclair licenses and prevent it from obtaining new ones.
In the Stolen Honor controversy, Democrat money-man and lawyer William Lerach claimed to be looking out for shareholders while threatening a lawsuit against Sinclair. But if Lerach was so concerned about the stock price, then why did he endeavor to get as much media attention as possible for the private letter he sent Sinclair? His actions hurt the company even more.
A liberal media criticism/activist group also came into the fray. Media Matters for America, as it calls itself, ominously warned the public that they may be shareholders in one of 26 investment funds that hold Sinclair stock. MMFA provided a list of those funds and attempted to persuade shareholders to protest to Sinclair and request their fund manager “immediately divest from any Sinclair investments.”
A week later Sinclair decided to drop the airing of Stolen Honor in its entirety. It followed the receipt of a demand letter underwritten by MMFA and presented by investment firm Glickenhaus & Co. whose firm was holding 6,100 shares of Sinclair stock. The letter threatened legal action if Sinclair aired the documentary.
Now, in conjunction with top Democratic activists, MMFA has formed a front group to keep pressuring Sinclair–via advertisers–over its airing of a conservative op-ed segment called “The Point.” They say they simply want to pressure Sinclair to offer opinion pieces with alternative views.
Media Matters claims it never intended to launch a boycott. Then why does this sentence appears on the SinclairAction site: “Sinclair Action is specifically targeting Kraft, Staples, Target, Geico, McDonalds and Sprint.” These are all advertisers on Sinclair stations
The hypocrisy lies in Media Matters for America claiming to be looking out for the Sinclair shareholder while targeting advertisers. John Berlau, the Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., comments, “This exposes the hollowness of the activists’ earlier campaign to ‘protect’ Sinclair’s shareholders from the purported fallout that would supposedly happen if the network aired Stolen Honor. They cannot claim to be on shareholders’ side while they are trying to depress the company’s advertising revenues. The investor community would do well to remember this should the anti-Sinclair activists launch another ‘shareholder action.'”