Stop Sinclair

Guest Post by Tim Ross

Many of you have probably heard about the controversy regarding Sinclair Broadcast Group and its plans to require the 62 local TV stations that it owns to broadcast an anti-Kerry "documentary" shortly before the November 2nd election. The film, Stolen Honor, is reportedly a blatant political hatchet-job on John Kerry - it might as well be called Swift Boat Vets: The Movie. But while the Bush/Kerry race is on everyone's mind at the moment, this particular controversy is much more than just another development in the 2004 presidential race. The real issue at hand is the considerable effect that corporate media consolidation can have on local TV markets. Including this one.

Many of us in Orange County receive 2 of Sinclair's 62 stations: WRDC (UPN 28, the UPN affiliate) and WLFL (WB 22, the WB affiliate), both based out of Raleigh. If you've watched the WLFL 10 o'clock "local news" recently, you may have noticed that only a portion of the news is actually "local." Most of the stories come from a remote "NewsCentral" desk that pipes out the same "local news" to dozens of other Sinclair stations. The nightly commentary ("The Point") is done by Sinclair Vice President of Corporate Communications Mark Hyman, and Hyman's editorials tend to be extremely biased right-wing propaganda masquerading as a "fair-and-balanced" viewpoint. Like Sinclair, Hyman is based out of Baltimore, MD. To help put this into perspective, consider that at least Jesse Helms' infamous WRAL editorials were actually expressing a local opinion.

So, what can you do? Well, if you as a resident of Orange County are bothered by the fact that our local airwaves are being misused by a large media corporation with considerable financial and political ties to both the defense industry and the Bush administration, you have several courses of action:

  1. Sign the Stop Sinclair petition at This first one's really easy. Personally I'm not that sure how effective a petition will be, but since it will be presented to the FCC, to Sinclair, and to Sinclair's major advertisers, it would be great for this petition to have at least 100,000 signatures. 
  2. Contact advertisers directly, especially local advertisers, and politely let them know how you feel about Sinclair and their plans to air an anti-Kerry program. A growing database of advertisers specific to WLFL and WRDC is available here. Feel free to add to it while watching TV! And remember when you call or email these advertisers that some of these folks are probably sympathetic to your concerns - they just may not realize who or what their advertising dollars are going to support. I called the Raleigh-based Law Offices of James Scott Farrin on Tuesday afternoon after seeing an advertisement. I was at least the second caller that they had received that day, and by Wednesday afternoon the firm had pulled all advertising from both WLFL and WRDC. This may not work with all advertisers, but if just a few advertisers pull their ads out, the stations will definitely take notice, as this directly effects their bottom line. 
  3. File either an informal objection or a formal "Petition to Deny" with the FCC regarding the upcoming license renewals of both WLFL and WRDC. As luck would have it, the licenses for both of these Raleigh stations expire on December 1st of this year. As Steve Soto of The Left Coaster has pointed out, the FCC rules allow anyone with an interest, presumably a local interest, to file a formal or informal objection as long as it is received one month before the license expiration date. For the Raleigh stations, that is November 1st. These objections must meet specific FCC requirements....I don't know these specifics, unfortunately, and it would be great to have a communications/media law expert weigh in here with more details. Remember, the FCC grants licenses to local TV stations and allows them to use goverment-owned airwaves with the expectation that the stations serve the public interest of their local community and that they provide reasonably accurate and balanced coverage of political races. If you do not feel that the Orange County community is being properly served by Sinclair's franchised version of homogenous "local news" or by right-wing propaganda designed to influence pre-election opinion, you have the right to tell the FCC this as they consider whether or not to renew the licenses of these stations! 
  4. Finally, call or write the stations directly and let them know how you feel. They may refer you to Sinclair's corporate headquarters, but it can't hurt to let them know that there are local TV viewers who do not approve of Sinclair's actions. Here is the contact info for WRDC and WLFL:

    WLFL: (919) 872-9535

    WRDC: (919) 878-6198

    Address for both stations:

    3012 Highwoods Blvd, Ste 101
    Raleigh, NC 27604

Tim Ross blogs at Tuba City.



Thanks for the post, Tim. I had earlier seen the list of advertisers but had not noticed that it could be sorted by market-area. Now I've got a concise list of avertisers to call tomorrow! Rawk-on!

Thanks again,
John Bonitz

You guys kill me. 99% of the media is liberal and working for the Kerry campaign, so you guys go after the 1%.

You certainly can dish it out, but can't take it.

Any outrage from this crowd over Dan Rather making up the news about Bush?

I don't understand your comment Todd. From what I understand about your politics, you are a political conservative. I thought conservatives valued the constitution in a very literal way. Do you really think big business, political values should be driving the public media? CBS screwed up--and apologized. Sinclair is, in effect, lobbying for a candidate using your public airwaves to do so. This is a total abuse of power and everyone, regardless of political party, should be outraged.

When you combine Sinclair's actions with those of Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor in the
Valerie Plame affair, anyone who is old enough to have lived through the Nixon years should be having deja vu. I just can't see this as a Republican vs Democrat or liberal vs conservative issue.


Instead of outrage, let me say that I am severely disappointed in Rather & CBS. That whole episode exposed to me how clearly biased at least some people at CBS News are. (I'm not being sarcastic here.) Anyone 45 or older at CBS should have recognized the formatting of that document as clearly from the PC era. On the other hand, as opposed to consistent liberal bias, I see the three old networks as being careful enough not to offend either side, that their news is way watered down. I don't bother with them.

Sorry for the digression, everyone, but the analogy is relevant, tangentially.

I am sure you guys would be just as outraged if a network had picked up Michael Moore's smear piece?!?

While we talk about big business, let's reflect on the millions of dollars pumped in by George Soros into

Why can't you engage in conversation instead of just throwing out accusations and one liners Todd? I really want to know WHY you think Sinclair's actions are acceptable. If it's wrong for CBS, shouldn't it be wrong for Sinclair too? My dad, who has similar political positions to yours, gives me the 'liberal media bias' routine all the time. So I started watching Fox. I don't ever see the kind of bias on CNN as I see on Fox. If the conservative position is that the media should be unbiased, I just don't get the Republican rationale of 'they do it, so it's OK for us to do it too."

Dear Toddtheblog,

The press, by its nature, should be more "liberal". It should be questioning societal norms. That is how we get better as a society, discussion and introspection. Just think of all the change that would not have happened if it were not for some good "liberal" muckraking. If the "conservative" ideas they question are valid and strong those ideas will survive.

And no, the media is not in Kerrry's hip pocket. They are mostly corporations. They are concerned about advertisers. They care about money. I have no problem with Sinclar showing the documentary. I do have a problem with it being a corporation. But I think if it would loose him advertisers he would not do it.

Aside, I am dismayed by the name of your web site. What is the differece between labeling yourself left or right? Nothing. Why use labels at all? If you do not like Kerry why have him in front of a Soviet flag and say he was worse then Lenin? That does nothing for your valid points.


C-BS lied to us. They used fake documents to try and take out Bush. Neither of us have seen the documentary Sinclair will play, so how can either of us say it's not fair?!? Sinclair aslso offered Kerry equal time to answer any claims in the documentary. Sounds fair to me. I did not hear about C-BS inviting Bush over to trash the fake docs.

After the debate the other night, I watched Fox and CNN by flipping back and forth. Fox had commentators on from both sides, and took no side on the outcome. Over at CNN they were celebrating the self-proclaimed Kerry victory with glee. Not just the pundits, but the news staff. I suggest you do a better job comparing the bias of CNN with Fox.

Bottom line is that I believe in freedom of speech regardless of whether its Michael Moore, George Soro's, Swift Vets for Truth, or Sinclair. You guys appear to only support freedom of speech that you agree with.


Read the link to the Communist Party USA site and you will find the Kerry campaign talking points exactly as we have heard them over and over. I think I make a valid point on this post.

As for the name of my site, what's your problem? As for me being labelled conservative or liberal, that is for readers to decide. I am pro-choice, pro-gay marraige, and pro certain gun laws. Call me whatever you want, just don't call me late for dinner.

In cae y'all didn't check out the link in Tim's item #2, here is the list of current Sinclair sponsors. You may have some relationship with these companies that would would make your input especially important. Any BlueCross BlueShield customers out there?

Academic Financial Solutions 800-437-5000
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina 1-800-250-3630 919-489-7431
Burch, Joneth, & Rogers 1-800-662-8702 919-571-8855
DS parada hair salon (919) 546-9111 (919) 870-6601
Henson & Fuerst, P.A. 1-800-4LAWMED
Henson & Fuerst, P.A. Attorneys At Law 1-800-452-9633 919-781-1107 252-443-2111
HomeVestors 972-761-0046 1-866-IWANTUG 1-800-44BUYER
LA Weight Loss Centers 1-800-526-SLIM
Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Atlanta (770) 938-4711
Martin and Jones 1-800-662-1234
Medicaid Dental Center 919.773.3002
NC State Fair 919-821-7400
Titan TV / Decisionmark (319) 365-5597
Wide Shoe Warehouse 919.787.7778

Scratch these Ruby:
Martin and Jones
Burch, Joneth, & Rogers

It's working, sort of? ....

Todd, if they'd show Fahrenheit 911 along with Swift Veterans, I'd be willing to call it a draw.

So Sinclair is going to 'edit' and already 'edited' story? Jeez--here's the highlights of what we see as the worse aspects of this candidates history? In a sound-bite society, shortening the message makes it more memorable!

Question: How do you stop a right wing Republican corporation?

Answer: Shoot them in the wallet with a silver bullet.

Sinclair Retreats on Kerry Film
Top Stories - Los Angeles Times

By Elizabeth Jensen Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Facing advertiser defections, a viewer boycott and a plummeting stock price, as well as strong opposition from Democrats, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. scrapped its plan to air a film that attacks the 1970s-era antiwar activities of Sen. John F. Kerry (news, bio, voting record), and will instead run a special produced by its news division incorporating parts of the movie.

The decision not to run all of "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" came after several shareholder complaints against the company were announced Tuesday, sending Sinclair shares down 3.5% after a nearly 8% slide Monday.

Sinclair, which owns or controls stations that reach nearly a quarter of all American homes with televisions, also scaled back the number of outlets that would air the revised program, called "A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media." It will air Friday on 40 of Sinclair's 62 stations, including three each in the crucial swing states of Ohio and Florida.

According to a Sinclair news release issued late Tuesday, the program would look at the use of documentaries to influence voting in the 2004 campaign, as well as at media bias and the content of "certain of these documentaries." "Stolen Honor" was the only film cited in the news release.

Sinclair's announcement caps 10 days in which the company found itself under assault as a symbol of the effects of media consolidation. Its plan to air the film — never announced publicly but communicated widely to its employees, its stations, its network partners and "Stolen Honor" filmmaker Carlton Sherwood — drew sharp criticism after it was disclosed in The Times, partly because the proposed air date fell so close to election day in an intensely fought presidential race.

Democratic senators and representatives protested to the Federal Communications Commission (news - web sites), and the Democratic National Committee (news - web sites) complained to the Federal Election Commission (news - web sites) that the broadcast would be an improper in-kind contribution to the Bush reelection effort. FCC (news - web sites) Chairman Michael K. Powell said the agency wouldn't intervene.

Sinclair executives are top donors to the Republican Party, and the company has previously been criticized for eschewing localism in favor of a centralized news operation run from its Maryland headquarters. Critics and even some Sinclair employees said that approach had blurred the line between journalism and right-skewing commentary.

The Sinclair news department got the assignment to do the news program on Sunday, according to Jon Leiberman, Sinclair's Washington bureau chief. Leiberman was fired Monday for violating company policy by telling the Baltimore Sun he had refused to work on the program. In an interview with The Times, Leiberman said he thought the program should be labeled commentary, not news.

Critics said the new program would probably still represent a wide airing for the charges that Sherwood made in the 42-minute "Stolen Honor" — namely that Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activities prolonged the ordeal of American prisoners.

"Why do you need to report this issue in a special on a Friday night in prime time before the election?" said Jay Rosen, chairman of New York University's journalism department. Sinclair's centralized newscast seems "invented just for this purpose, when the bosses think some story is being neglected and they want to be sure it gets out to its stations," Rosen said.

Kerry's campaign, which had demanded equal time on Sinclair stations to counter "Stolen Honor," had turned down Sinclair's request to have the Democratic candidate appear to discuss the "Stolen Honor" charges.

Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton said of the new development: "It remains to be seen whether they decide to put their own narrow interest ahead of the public's trust."

Bill Kovach, founding director of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, said the Sinclair case represented the "fear of the opponents of media consolidation — that ownership could do just this."

Joshua Micah Marshall's, a Web log, had been encouraging the protests, said the activists forced Sinclair to change course: "This wouldn't have happened four years ago," he said, noting that "an infrastructure for mobilization" now existed among Democrats.

Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, said in a statement that the company had "backed down." "It seems as if the public pressure was more than it could bear," he said.

Sherwood, the filmmaker, said, "Of course I would have hoped that the entire film would have been aired," adding that the company's executives had his "highest respect for all the criticism and financial losses and difficulties they have had to endure as a result of this." He declined further comment until he could confer with Sinclair.

Sinclair executives didn't return calls for comment. According to the press release, the program will air at 8 p.m. Friday (7 p.m. Central time) on stations including Sinclair's only California outlet in Sacramento. Previously, Sinclair had told the networks with which it was affiliated that its stations would preempt network programming for "Stolen Honor" beginning Thursday.

The company said it would limit the airing of the special to one station in each city to "minimize the interruption of normally scheduled programming." The firm has been a beneficiary of relaxed federal limits on the number of stations one company can control in a market; Sinclair runs two or more outlets in 21 markets nationwide.

Sinclair's actions came after a day of increased shareholder pressure and evidence that the controversy was drawing wider attention to its already-sinking share price.

On Tuesday, Glickenhaus & Co., an investment firm holding 6,100 Sinclair shares, sent a letter to Sinclair's board and its chief executive, David D. Smith, asking that they immediately "provide those with views opposed to the allegations in the film an equal opportunity to respond." The letter threatened legal action to stop the broadcast otherwise, citing Sinclair's obligation to shareholders. The action was underwritten by the left-leaning advocacy group Media Matters for America.

Also Tuesday, William Lerach, a San Diego attorney with Democratic ties who represents major institutional investors, wrote to Sinclair on behalf of clients — the only one he would name was the 1199 Service Employees International Union Greater New York Pension Fund — saying it was "extremely troubled" by the company's recent downward revision of its expected third-quarter earnings, due out Nov. 4.

Lerach asked that the board take action against what he said was possible insider trading by three senior executives in the last year. Such a request is standard prelude to a shareholder suit, which Lerach said could be filed soon.

New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, a Democrat, sent Sinclair a letter Tuesday in his capacity as trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which holds 256,000 Sinclair shares, questioning how the controversy "will improve performance and add to shareholder value."

Sinclair's Smith, in the press release, called the experience of preparing the special "trying for many of those involved. The company and many of its executives have endured personal attacks of the vilest nature," he said, as well as the boycott threats and calls for shareholders to sell stock.

"More shockingly," he said, "we have received threats of retribution from a member of Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites)'s campaign."

Kerry spokesman Clanton called the charge "ridiculous," saying, "The only threat here is Sinclair Broadcasting who's trying to use the airwaves for partisan political purposes."

Smith added in his statement, "We cannot in a free America yield to the misguided attempts by a small but vocal minority to influence and trample on the First Amendment rights of those with whom they might not agree."

We are one of the markets in which the 'special' will be aired. Friday, 8pm, WLFL (WB 22).

Sinclair probably needs more convincing.

In addition to the local advertisers, there are national companies that advertise in other markets:

These include BEST BUY and CIRCUIT CITY. Any suggestions on where else to buy bargain computers and stereos around here?

(That website also lists email addresses for the advertisers, so that you can let them know about your purchasing intentions.)

I am sure since folks like Ruby have helped to squalch free speech, others may want to to watch Stolen Honor!

For those of you who believe in free speech that you may not agree with, you can watch it right now, free on your PC along with millions of others:

And who is being a hypocrite?

Look back at some of the things Ruby (and others) had to say about my suggestion that people let adverisers on Frankin's show know they don't approve:

Ruby said: "All these complaints about “getting political” really appear to be complaints about views that one disagrees with. I am faced with viewpoints (and actions) that I find repugnant every day, and yet somehow I am able to go on breathing and make room in the world for ideas other than my own. I don't find it threatening that others don't always agree with me. Name-calling and yelling “shut up” the loudest doesn't promote my values or my views. (This is why I don't really enjoy most talk radio.)"

Hmmm...guess that only applies to Frankin, not Stolen Honor.

Re-reading that entire thread is funny when you consider this one!

Yep, some more of that "it's no good for them but it's okay for us" thinking.

WCHL's Hate Radio Sponsors

So far, Chapel Hill Tire, and Franklin Street Realty are the two main advertisers on Al Franken's show on WCHL 1360 AM. Let these two businesses know what you think about them sponsoring hate radio.

Email Chapel Hill Tire

Email Franklin Street Realty

UPDATE: Reply from my email to Chapel Hill Tire:



Consistency is maybe too nuanced?

“…a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander in Chief."
- Former President G. W. Bush

Two MAJOR differneces.

1) I had heard hours of Frankin before judging the show. You have no clue what is on Stolen Honor, you never watched it!

2) I did not encourage legal action, or FCC blocking the show. Just encouraged notification of sponsors.

Guess you missed those two key differences, which does not surprise me a bit.

Call Stolen Honor propoganda or whatever you want to call it, but it's Kerry's words and actions ALONE that kills his credibility. You can turn off the volume of the 42 minute documentary when others are speaking, and you should still be sick by what Kerry alone did and said in 1971.


I think a better analogy to your boycott of Franken sponsors would be a (theoretical) boycott of Fox News sponsors. SwiftVets are in a league of their own.

Last I heard, when Kerry was active in the 1970s, Bush was fighting off DUIs, pregnant girlfriends, and ... yes, Alabama Guard duty (still no real-time confirmation of duties performed, notwithstanding ex post facto exonerations).


Sounds like I gave you too much credit on my own site the other night calling you a cut above.

Knowone is discrediting Kerry's four whole months in Nam. What Stolen Honor does, is shows video PROOF of Kerry's HORRIBLE actions upon arriving home from Nam in 1971.

As for Bush, if anyone could prove the allegations you assert above, they would have done so already. Stolen Honor offers video proof of Kerry making horrible and false accusations upon his return. He even calls himself a war criminal!

If we can discuss this as the role of media and deregulation instead of partisan presidential politics, I think we can see that there is threat to everyone when a particular media outlet becomes blatent advocates for a particular political perspective. I know Todd will say that the media has a liberal slant and that Sinclair and Fox are evening the playing field. That may be true....How would we have responded if it was Farenheit 9/11 being shown instead of Stolen Honor?
Is media deregulation (less government) good for our society?

This isn't necessarily an Orange Co issue--but as Ruby said yesterday on another thread all politics are local and the media is all around us.

I thought there was a distinction between a documentary replete with lies and the attempts of a show like Franken's, which tries to put out a "reality-based" POV. But we live in dangerous times and the Swifties obviously understand we need to be scared straight and that the "means justify the ends". I stand corrected, we should be very frightened of both Kerry's treasonous behavior and the danger we face.

Farenhype 9-11 was shown in movie theaters all over the country, and set box office records.

When Stolen Honor was offered to theaters FREE, many needed to turn it down based on threats of "civil" disobedience.

Not only that, how can you repeat anything about Stolen Honor without watching it????????

Todd--your article references ONE theater that was threatened with a lawsuit by someone other than Kerry. I don't care about Stolen Honors. I was around when Kerry was participating in his anti-war protests and I respect him for doing so. I also think it's fair to raise his participation as part of this campaign. The point I was asking you to discuss was media deregulation. If you want to have a discussion about this, you have to move off your soapbox just as you want us liberals to do.

Kerry is not being blamed for being anti-war after returning fron Nam. He is blamed for calling our own baby killers, war criminals, and thugs.

As for media deregulation--I support almost any deregulation that threatens a free market.


So here's the documentary evidence of Bush's DUI (he even pleaded guilty):

Turns out, Cheney's got two such arrests in his past.

Larry Flynt was never able to prove the Bush-girlfriend-illegal-abortion claim, although he did assert that after his own year 2000 pursuit of this case, the woman in question suddenly moved from working-class digs to a very plush house.... As so many things these days, different interpretations of the circumstantial evidence are grounded in differences in whom we tend to trust.

Anyone who was interested in stopping Sinclair may also be interested in Clear Channels recent decision to contract with Fox News.

Clear Channel owns the following stations in Raleigh:
WDCG-FM (G105)
WRDU-FM (106.1)
WRSN-FM (Sunny 93.9)
WRVA-FM (100.7--The River)

Although I don't listen to any of these channels, I would encourage anyone who does to consider contacting the stations and letting them know that you would prefer anothing, less biased news service. Better yet, contact the advertisers on these stations.

Democracy depends upon an informed public. Between media consolidation and programming that filters out anything that may challenge the Administration's view of the world, our democracy is at risk. This is not a liberal/conservative issue. Our media should be reporting on both sides of the political spectrum--not taking one side or the other. Fox in conjunction with Clear Channel is a bad combination.


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