Sinclair Broadcast Group says it will not air an anti-Kerry documentary in its entirety but plans to include excerpts in a special news program Friday.
The television chain, however, which has 62 stations covering 24 percent of the U.S. market, insisted the announcement does not amount to a change of plans amid pressure by Democrats and the Kerry campaign.
“Contrary to numerous inaccurate political and press accounts, the Sinclair stations will not be airing the documentary ‘Stolen Honor‘ in its entirety,” the Maryland-based company said in a statement.
As WorldNetDaily first reported, “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal” presents former POWs who tell how Kerry’s 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was used as propaganda against them by their North Vietnamese captors, intensifying their persecution and possibly prolonging imprisonment.
Sinclair said it will broadcast a program titled “A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media,” examining allegations concerning Kerry’s anti-Vietnam War activities. The company’s statement included a list of the local stations and broadcast times.
The hour-long show will focus in part on the role of media and the use of documentaries in influencing voters, Sinclair said.
Charlie Gerow, a spokesman for “Stolen Honor” producer Carlton Sherwood, affirmed to WorldNetDaily that Sinclair “never said they were going to show it in its entirety.”
But asked if he previously had the impression the company would air the whole 42-minute documentary, Gerow said only: “My impression doesn’t matter.”
In an interview with WND last week, Sherwood said Sinclair last month “came to me and asked if I would mind if they ran this.”
Referring to pressure on Sinclair from Democrats and the Kerry campaign, Gerow said, “Every person should ask, what is it that John Kerry doesn’t want people to see?”
Last week, the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission charging that the broadcast by Sinclair would amount to an illegal campaign contribution. Also, a group of 18 Democratic senators asked Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell to probe whether the program violated regulations on the use of public airwaves.
In addition, the Kerry campaign wrote a legal brief to the president of Sinclair, insisting the Democratic presidential nominee should be given equal time and allowed to run his own program. Sinclair had invited Kerry to appear on the program after the film is shown, but his campaign has declined.
Sinclair also received a letter from a Democrat comptroller in New York on behalf of a retirement fund that holds 256,600 shares of the broadcast company, warning the controversy could damage the investment.
And a Vietnam veteran and anti-war activist who appears in the documentary has announced the filing of a libel suit against Sherwood, claiming he was falsely characterized as a “fraud” who charged soldiers with war crimes but “never set foot on the battlefield.”
Gerow sees the moves as “part of an attempt to silence these POWs who were heros of our nation and want to speak out against John Kerry’s betrayal.”
“What is it in this film that is so disturbing to John Kerry?” Gerow asked. “I would think he’d be proud of his actions, but they’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to block people from seeing it.”
Gerow said he didn’t recall seeing Republicans or George Bush “going to these lengths” to block the showing of Michael Moore’s anti-Bush film “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
“Something in ‘Stolen Honor’ has exposed a raw nerve in John Kerry and his campaign,” he said.
Gerow said he had no idea how Sinclair would use the film in its program Friday but believes they have “good judgment and will fairly and accurately depict it.”
In a statement, Joe DeFeo, Sinclair’s vice president of news, said, “As with all news programming produced by Sinclair’s News Central, ‘A POW Story’ is being produced with the highest journalistic standards and integrity.”
“We have not ceded, and will not in the future cede, control of our news reporting to any outside organization or political group,” he said.
DeFeo said Sinclair is “endeavoring, as we do with all of our news coverage, to present both sides of the issues covered in an equal and impartial manner.”