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Federal Communications Commission member Michael J. Copps issued a statement today criticizing a television chain’s plan to preempt programming on 62 stations to broadcast a documentary featuring testimony by former POWs of the demoralizing impact of John Kerry’s 1971 war-crimes accusations.
Copps called the decision by Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcasting to air “Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal an “abuse of the public trust.”
The FCC commissioner said Sinclair’s plan “is proof positive of media consolidation run amok when one owner can use the public airwaves to blanket the country with its political ideology – whether liberal or conservative.”
The station group, which reaches about 24 percent of U.S. households and is known for its conservative commentaries, has coverage in crucial battleground states.
As WorldNetDaily first reported, the 42-minute documentary by Vietnam veteran and award-winning journalist Carlton Sherwood presents former POWs who tell how Kerry’s 1971 testimony was used as propaganda against them by their North Vietnamese captors, intensifying their persecution and possibly prolonging imprisonment.
Yesterday, the FCC received a letter from 18 Democratic senators urging an investigation into Sinclair’s decision.
“To allow a broadcasting company to air such a blatantly partisan attack in lieu of regular programming, and to classify that attack as news programming as has been suggested, would violate the spirit, and we think the text, of current law and regulation,” the Democratic senators wrote.
The Democratic National Committee filed a complaint today with the Federal Election Commission, arguing Sinclair’s broadcast would be an illegal contribution to President Bush’s campaign.
But Sinclair says it has invited Kerry to partipate in the broadcast and insists it is reporting news relevant to the campaign.
“Would they suggest that our reporting a car bomb in Iraq is an in-kind contribution to the Kerry campaign?” asked Vice President Mark Hyman. “Would they suggest that our reporting on job losses is an in-kind contribution to the Kerry campaign?”
“It’s the news,” Hyman continued. “It is what it is. We’re reporting the news.”
The Kerry campaign has rejected Sinclair’s invitation, calling the film “lies” and “a smear.”
Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton issued a veiled threat to Sinclair today on the Fox News program “Dayside” with Linda Vester.
“I think they are going to regret doing this, and they had better hope we don’t win,” he said.
Copps noted Sinclair is the same company that last April ordered seven of its ABC-affiliated stations not to air a controversial “Nightline” segment that consisted solely of reading the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.
“It is the same corporation that short-shrifts local communities and local jobs by distance-casting news and weather from hundreds of miles away,” Copps said. “It is a sad fact that the explicit public interest protections we once had to ensure balance continue to be weakened by the Federal Communications Commission while it allows media conglomerates to get even bigger. Sinclair, and the FCC, are taking us down a dangerous road.”
Over the weekend, left-wing media critic and journalist David Brock warned Sinclair to cancel its plans to air the anti-Kerry film, contending it could violate campaign broadcast regulations.
Sinclair’s Hyman said the company decided to broadcast the film after it was rejected by the major broadcast networks.
“This is a powerful story,” Hyman told the Washington Post. “The networks are acting like Holocaust deniers and pretending [the POWs] don’t exist. It would be irresponsible to ignore them.”
On the forum for the website Democratic Underground, contributors were up in arms over the planned broadcast, with some writing they would like to see drastic action taken to prevent it.
“Anyone have friends at the power company so they could cause a blackout or something? Like make a trasformer [sic] blow? I think that could be the only way to stop this is to make the power go out.”
Another contributor, responding to a post suggesting such an act would constitute terrorism, replied, “Its not THAT outrageous.”
“How would THEY know if it was Dems or not. And what is up w/ equating this w/ terroism? [sic] We are just helping our chosen leader and STOPPING a smear campaign and Bush contribution. We have to fight fire w/ fireballs. If the Reps can write PC programs [to] rig polls then … .”