For the past two weeks, Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign has waged a multi-pronged attack on the Sinclair Broadcast Group even as the Democratic nominee’s representatives privately have engaged in negotiations over the airing of “Stolen Honor,” an executive with the television chain contends.
Mark Hyman (Courtesy Fox News)
In an interview with WorldNetDaily, Sinclair’s vice president for corporate relations, Mark Hyman, said the discussions have taken the form of meeting face-to-face with Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill, telephone calls and written correspondence.
Hyman, who said the latest contact with Kerry’s campaign was today, asserts “flawed reporting” repeated by numerous outlets has contributed to the perception that Sinclair planned to run the entire 42-minute program as a right-wing hatchet job on Kerry and then scaled back as Democrats launched a full-fledged attack.
“We told [the Kerry campaign] the entire show format was on the table and it was contingent on the level of [their] participation,” Hyman said. “We also told them we were willing to travel to any location in order to accommodate the senator’s campaign schedule. We finally left it that we will accommodate the senator right up until air date should he change his mind and elect to participate.”
The only requests have been, he said, that Kerry “or a reasonable designee with some standing on the subject” participate and that the interview would not be restricted by requiring provision of questions in advance or narrowing the topic.
Cahill did not respond to WND’s request for comment.
John Kerry in scene from documentary ‘Stolen Honor’
Sinclair announced yesterday that stations in its markets, covering 24 percent of the country, will broadcast a program Friday titled “A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media,” examining allegations concerning Kerry’s anti-Vietnam War activities and the role of media and the use of documentaries in influencing voters.
The company has issued a list of the local stations and broadcast times.
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, allegedly intensifying their persecution and prolonging the war and imprisonment.
Democrats have responded on many fronts to Sinclair’s announcement to air the charges in “Stolen Honor.”
“All of this has been intended to draw attention away from the heart of the matter which are the allegations made by the 13 men — including two Medal of Honor winners — who appear in the documentary,” Hyman said. “These POWs allege that John Kerry’s 1971 testimony before the Senate had a direct impact on them during their captivity in North Vietnam.”
The challenges to Sinclair include:
- The Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission charging that the broadcast would amount to an illegal campaign contribution.
- A group of 18 Democratic senators asked Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell to probe whether the program would violate regulations on the use of public airwaves.
- 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 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.
- A Vietnam veteran and anti-war activist who appears in the documentary has announced the filing of a libel suit against filmmaker Carlton Sherwood, claiming he was falsely characterized as a “fraud” who charged soldiers with war crimes but “never set foot on the battlefield.”
- A Democratic party donor, William S. Lerach, sent a letter yesterday to the news company calling the broadcast plan “reckless,” alleging insider trading by officers and threatening a shareholder lawsuit.
Hyman said he is perplexed by Kerry campaign officials and surrogates referring to the POWs statements as “lies” and “scurrilous.”
“We’re not certain what part of the POWs story they label as lies,” he said. “Is it that they served in Vietnam? Were captured? Were held in captivity? Or that they suffered horrific abuse and
unspeakable torture for years?”
He also noted that critics have referred to Sherwood as a “Washington Times reporter” in an attempt to show the left he is beholden to a conservative bias.
“They don’t mention that he has had a 36-year career in journalism that includes winning both the
Pulitzer and the Peabody, the most prestigious journalism awards in both print
and television, respectively,” Hyman said. “He also has Emmys in TV journalism. He has
worked for Gannett, CNN and at local television stations. Out of a 36-year
career they cite the less than one year he spent at the Washington Times.”
Hyman maintained no one has earned the right to speak out on Vietnam more than the POWs.
“For the news gatekeepers to ignore them when they’ve ended 31 years of self-imposed silence is
shameless,” he said.
News and politics
Hyman sees hypocrisy in news organizations advancing the contention that Sinclair has a political agenda.
According to Sherwood, he notes, ABC News had no interest in speaking to the POWs in the film. Yet, last week “Nightline” aired a program based on Vietnamese villagers’ accounts of disputed claims surrounding Kerry’s Silver Star medal.
“ABC can send a crew halfway around the world to interview people in a communist country, but it declines to speak to American servicemen — including two Medal of Honor winners — who collectively spent
almost 84 years in the same communist country being tortured and abused,” Hyman said.
“Tell me ABC News isn’t pursuing a political agenda. Of course they are.”
Jerome Corsi, co-author of “Unfit for Command,” said he sees the Kerry campaign operating in a similar manner to its reaction to the Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth best-seller, which documents the charges of more than 250 of Kerry’s colleagues in Vietnam.
“It’s John Kerry who doesn’t want both sides of the story told,” said Corsi, who helped line up Sinclair with Sherwood’s film. “He wanted ‘Unfit for Command’ pulled off the bookshelves, and he went to all the stations showing television ads, threatening to sue.”
The swifboat vets group has produced nine television commercials that have run in crucial swing states and nationally on cable channels.
“Kerry’s band of lawyers is trying to reinterpret the First Amendment, trying to suppress any view that is unfavorable,” Corsi said. “Even when they get a forum offered, they turn around and attack Sinclair.”