Three Imaginary Girls

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I've taken a deep breath. My seething rage at the current situation with our so-called free press has quieted. Now, as a writer, imaginary girl, and lover of independent media, I need to calmly tell you more about a bi-partisan situation I find extremely alarming, one that might not have made it through the filter of our mainstream news sources. So here's the sitch:

The conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group is ordering its affliate stations {which broadcast into nearly 25% of our nation's homes with TV} to preempt regular programming just days before the election to air a film that attacks John Kerry's activism against the Vietnam War. It's not irrelevant to mention that the Sinclair Broadcasting Group has donated over 60,000 smackers to GWB's campaign this year.

Sinclair is forcing every one of its stations — many of them in political swing states such as Ohio and Florida — to air Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal. The film features former POWs accusing Kerry — a decorated Navy veteran turned war protester — of worsening their ordeal by prolonging the war. Sinclair will preempt regular prime-time programming from the networks to show the film {more}.

Now you might ask, "But what about Michael Moore's film? They're showing that on Pay Per View on the eve of the election too." This is true. But the difference here is, you have to PAY, privately, to see Moore's film. That is your choice and your right. There would be no issue if Stolen Honor were showing on Pay Per View. This issue is: TV airwaves are publicly owned. Sinclair is getting away with this by passing the 90 minute partisan so-called documentary off as a news story.

When confronted with the question of how Sinclair could get away with ordering their affliates stations to pre-empt their programming, their VP Mark Hyman replied, "Don't be absurd about this whole thing. Just like Sears tells all of its stores, 'You will sell Craftsman tools.' McDonald's tells all of its restaurants, 'You will have a sesame seed bun.' That's the business we're in." {more}

Excuse me??? He admitted that they dictate (read as: censor) what their local affliates can and can't show, nationwide? He just told a CNN news anchor he was absurd for expecting anything different; he equated the responsibility of keeping the nation informed and challenging our government (the proper role of the journalist) with a retailer selling hand tools???!

This is very, very scary. And this is not a partisan issue. If Sinclair Broadcasting Group were full of stauch Democrats and wanted to show Fahrenheit 9/11 or Going Upriver on public airways on the cusp of the election, without allowing equal time for the Republican agenda, I would be likewise outraged.

No matter who wins on November 2nd, I want our media balls-to-the-walls challenging him and his administration. I want to know that the men and women who went to school to learn how to interview, investigate, write, and report will be allowed to report their findings, no matter what the interests are of their affliated networks.

There is no more valuable lifeline to a democracy than the freedom of the press. None. If we allow the sort of monstrous manipulation of American minds that Sinclair is proposing in the coming weeks, we are seriously screwed. As it stands, with networks like FOX News running blatant pro-Republican messaging into millions of homes daily, it's hard enough to try to see the truth through the sound bites of spin. Which — again I say — I wouldn't mind if they were honest about it, and presented themselves as the conservative entertainment network they are. But FOX News' self-proclaimed motto of a "Fair and Balanced" news source is stupifying, at best (and terrifying, in actuality).

But the whole FOX News/abuse of media conglomeration issue will need to wait for another rant, another day. For now, I want to provide a status update and some action items regarding the Sinclair situation…

Michael Powell, the current head of the FCC announced today (Oct 14th) that Sinclair would be allowed to proceed with the broadcast. "Don't look to us to block the airing of a program," he told reporters. I hope I'm not the only one who finds that comment particularly discouraging. {more}

On the other hand, the former head of the FCC Reed Hundt is in a lather about Sinclair's horrendous decision, {"The move breaks with a longstanding tradition among broadcasters of covering presidential campaigns as part of their obligation to serve the public interest, and to do so with at least a patina of honesty." more}.


Please feel free to email me back with questions — and also to forward this article to your friends/foes/conservative uncles. This issue is far too important to get overlooked just because Britney decided today that she should take her new husband's last name….

{igDana is now officially obsessed with protecting our free press. She also sends special imaginary hugs and thanks to Julian the Mad Professor, Imaginary Bri, and the journalists who wrote the articles referenced above.}