Tags: Liberals | Still | Targeting | Sinclair | Hyman

Liberals Still Targeting Sinclair, Hyman

Wednesday, 15 December 2004 12:00 AM

Sinclair Broadcasting Group – a TV broadcast group whose 62 stations reach about one-quarter of the U.S. market – became the focal point of Democratic attacks this fall when it announced it planned to air “Stolen Honor,” an unflattering documentary of John Kerry’s anti-Vietnam war days.

In the end, Sinclair aired only four minutes of the documentary as part of a larger news program that even critics said was overly fair to John Kerry.

But Sinclair’s efforts still haven’t mollified some in the Democratic camp.

John Kerry, in a post-election broadcast, may have sounded the war cry against Sinclair when he singled out the network.

“You moved voters, helped hold George Bush accountable, and countered the attacks from big news organizations such as Fox, Sinclair Broadcasting, and conservative talk radio,” Kerry said in his November “thank you” address to his supporters.

Now verbal criticism has turned into active measures against Sinclair. Media Matters for America – a liberal non-profit organization – is leading a movement of other liberals and liberal groups, including MoveOn.org, MediaChannel, Working Assets, Robert Greenwald (director of the documentary “Outfoxed”), Campaign for America’s Future, Free Press, and AlterNet, to begin a “nationwide initiative” to draw attention to what they claim is the conservative slant in Sinclair Broadcast Group’s television news programming.

The coalition is particularly angry about Mark E. Hyman, vice president for corporate relations for Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., and the host of the nightly news and commentary segment “The Point,” which airs on the network’s News Central program.

Media Matters complained in a release that Sinclair’s "news and commentary" segment hosted by Hyman “espouses one-sided, conservative rhetoric without any counterpoint.”

The liberal group offers a form letter on its website for grassroots activists to send to Sinclair’s advertisers. The form letter does not suggest a boycott but complains of what it claims is Sinclair’s bias.

“You may not know this, but your advertising supports a television news broadcast that claims ... ” the form letter begins, and then cites this statement as an example of bias made on Sinclair: “Religion, particularly Christianity, has been under attack by the left for several years."

In an interview with NewsMax, Mark Hyman indicated he was not surprised by the anti-Sinclair activities.

“Sadly, these people appear to be confused over the differences between news and commentary,” he said. “Open-minded individuals recognize that 'The Point' is the counter-point to the daily opinion broadcasts from Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel, Dan Rather, Katie Couric and many of their colleagues at the network newscasts and cable news channels.”

Hyman suggests the anti-Sinclair coalition is mostly a “collection of obscure organizations” that are still angered by the election result.

“The presidential election was over six weeks ago,” he said. “Their constant whining is getting old. It's time for them to move on. If they want to organize a letter-writing campaign, I recommend they send letters to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and to those deployed to other locations around the globe.”

Hyman added that neither he nor his company is planning any type of formal rejoinder to the group’s charges and demands.

“So far we’ve not seen any media firestorm,” he told NewsMax. The Sinclair executive disclosed that at the telephone news conference held by Media Matters, there “were only two questions asked by the media representatives.”

Media Matters seems undeterred by the lack of media interest in their case.

“‘The Point’ contains a steady stream of one-sided, anti-progressive and pro-Bush rhetoric that is broadcast without a progressive counterpoint,” David Brock, president of Media Matters, said in the telephone news conference.

Referring to a recent Media Matters content survey of Hyman editorials, Brock added, “Our analysis found that Hyman repeatedly attacked Sen. John Kerry and other prominent Democrats and progressives, charged liberal media bias and made repeated references to the ‘angry left,’ while promoting George W. Bush and his policies.”

Brock noted that the group would like to have a “dialogue” with Sinclair, with the goal of possibly getting the TV group to allow rebuttals to “The Point” or even add another commentary with a more liberal point of view.

Conservative groups have long requested the major networks like ABC, NBC, and CBS allow for rebuttals to their liberal news spin, but that has not happened yet.

Hyman said liberal groups would not be given an outlet on Sinclair.

A boycott “might be considered down the road” if the first approach doesn’t work, Brock advised.

Hyman finds Brock’s contention of bias humorous.

“I’m a little amused that in a 160-hour programming week, anybody would be concerned with my comments, which run one or two minutes long on a daily basis for a total of 10 to 15 minutes a week,” Hyman said in an interview.

Hyman further noted that he’s one of the few commentators on television who has the word “commentary” flashing on the screen.

“I think the word ‘commentary’ must flash across the screen – about 58 times – and the word is on the screen the entire time that I appear; we go out of our way to make sure people know it’s purely opinion.”

Under federal regulations broadcasters are not required these days to present both sides on any controversial issue. The Fairness Doctrine, which dated back to 1949 and required such balance, fell off the books with deregulation in 1987.

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Sinclair Broadcasting Group - a TV broadcast group whose 62 stations reach about one-quarter of the U.S. market - became the focal point of Democratic attacks this fall when it announced it planned to air "Stolen Honor," an unflattering documentary of John Kerry's...
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Wednesday, 15 December 2004 12:00 AM
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