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Integrity 1, Sinclair Broadcasting 0
October 19, 2004 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Sinclair Fires DC Bureau Chief for Speaking out Against Airing "Stolen Honor" (Baltimore Sun link, reg. req)
Sinclair Broadcasting, as has been discussed before, wants to air "Stolen Honor" (quite the appropriate title in regards to Jon Leiberman, the DC bureau chief) during primetime in a bold faced move to sway the election to Bush's favor.
Says Mr. Leiberman, "It's biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election."
The Washington Post and NY Times (both reg.req.) are also running the story.

First brought to my attention via our own Oliver Willis.
posted by fenriq (26 comments total)

 
Apologies for the doubled up "sway the (this) election".
posted by fenriq at 11:00 AM on October 19, 2004


It reminds me a good deal of this, when a Fox affiliate fired two reporters for refusing to lie.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:10 AM on October 19, 2004


Here's a non-reg version of the story at CBS News.

Also, at 1 p.m. today, shareholder attorney William S. Lerach (who you may remember from the Enron case) announced that "Sinclair Broadcasting Shareholders Demand Officers Return Profits From Insider Trading"
posted by Otis at 11:12 AM on October 19, 2004


Phone call to 5 Star Psychic Advice not required.
posted by m@ at 11:16 AM on October 19, 2004


You can register your complaint with Sinclair's advertisers. Boycott Sinclair has a list.
posted by caddis at 11:17 AM on October 19, 2004


Another non-login link
posted by dhoyt at 11:20 AM on October 19, 2004


Otis, thanks for the non-reg link. And re: Insider Trading, damn, I am really happy I don't own any stock in Sinclair or I'd be really, really furious about now.

And caddis, thanks for the Boycott Sinclair link, I'd signed up but forgotten to add it here. Good catch!
posted by fenriq at 11:23 AM on October 19, 2004


Additional stockholder action:

Glickenhaus & Co., a Wall Street investment firm holding 6,100 shares of Sinclair stock, is taking action against Sinclair on behalf of its clients holding shares in Sinclair. General partner Jim Glickenhaus mounted the action based on Sinclair's CEO and directors having a financial obligation to shareholders.

"We are not partisan. We are investors," Glickenhaus explained today. "Sinclair's decision has caused harm to the value of our investment in Sinclair. We believe Sinclair must give equal time to an opposing point of view. Otherwise the company is placing its future and the value of our investment in jeopardy, by putting the renewal of its FCC licenses at risk, alienating local advertisers, and opening itself up to libel suits against the company."

Also: New York Comptroller Alan Hevesi has sent a letter to Sinclair on behalf of the state's pension fund, which he said owns shares in the broadcasting company. From here.
posted by Otis at 11:32 AM on October 19, 2004


Their stock is tanking. The board should act now to remove the current corporate leadership: this behavior runs counter to the interest of the shareholders.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:36 AM on October 19, 2004


In related news...
posted by Pollomacho at 11:50 AM on October 19, 2004


Republican hacks make for good businessmen! Not everyone can be a Murdoch, Moon, or Scaife it seems.


posted by skallas at 12:22 PM on October 19, 2004


Its OK now.

I fired Sinclair.

There actually are some benefits to a 401k plan after all!

I hope this person gets hired by another place soon. Any company would do well to hire someone with honor and character and dignity and backbone. Except maybe WhiteHouse Inc.
posted by nofundy at 12:30 PM on October 19, 2004


I wonder if he commited a violation of some restriction to freedom of speech in contract or if he didn't , wasn't freedom of speech expecially conceived to protect political expression ?

onprv: mr_roboto: what makes you think the board gives a flying about the shareholders ? Shareholder outta out them and the board...but I wonder who is holding the controlling packet.
posted by elpapacito at 12:34 PM on October 19, 2004


Professor Bainbridge on the suits.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:48 PM on October 19, 2004


A bold faced move? How can they justify that? Sinclair is flush right. What a bunch of dingbats.
posted by O9scar at 12:55 PM on October 19, 2004


elpapacito: Because, believe it or not, the board has a legal responsibility to the shareholders. Their current behavior has directly impacted the stock's value -- mr_roboto is correct in that the proper action of the board should be to fire the CEO.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:12 PM on October 19, 2004


Sinclair has just issued a press release.
posted by Otis at 1:15 PM on October 19, 2004


Contrary to numerous inaccurate political and press accounts, the Sinclair stations will not be airing the documentary "Stolen Honor" in its entirety.

Heh. Can you say "backpedal?"
posted by soyjoy at 1:46 PM on October 19, 2004


Otis, looks like we win! Although what they are going to air looks like its going to attack Fahrenheit 9/11 and other politically based films.

I wonder if the irony is lost on them?

And soyjoy, the next line is pretty priceless as well "At no time did Sinclair ever publicly announce that it intended to do so."
posted by fenriq at 2:12 PM on October 19, 2004


From their press release:
Contrary to numerous inaccurate political and press accounts, the Sinclair stations will not be airing the documentary "Stolen Honor" in its entirety. At no time did Sinclair ever publicly announce that it intended to do so.
Take a look at WLOS ABC 13, an SBGI owned station, upcoming schedule for Friday, October 22 at 9:00 pm.



Heck, even the Stolen Honor website claims:
John Kerry and his Democratic allies are so worried that you will see this film, they have launched a major effort with the FCC to prevent Sinclair Broadcasting from airing it before Election Day. (1)
Amd what of their very own poll?
What is your opinion of Sinclair Broadcasting's intent to air Stolen Honor on all 62 of their television stations, during prime time, October 21 –24?
Unfortunately, I did not turn up the source of the original "rumor" that says that SBGI will broadcast Stolen Honor.
posted by sequential at 3:30 PM on October 19, 2004


Nice stock chart... looks like the Sinclair board has all the business acumen of George W. Bush.
posted by clevershark at 4:09 PM on October 19, 2004


fenriq, as much as I would like to break out the victory champagne, this just seems like a calculated move to slow their stock freefall. Did you see the "balanced news program" they showed in place of Nightline on their ABC affiliates back in April? Have you seen Sinclair's "News Central" programming or checked out The Point? They can't start playing "equal and impartial" now that we've had many opportunities to see their true colors.

sequential, I believe the L.A. Times broke this story and XQUZYPHYR posted it in the blue on October 9. That article cited "network and station executives familiar with the plan" as sources. The Stolen Honor people sure thought it was going to be shown. The listings (including my local) show the words "Stolen Honor" in that time slot.

They obviously planned to show Stolen Honor in its entirety. They gave themselves an out by posting on their web site, from the day this broke, that the show and its content were not finalized. Word spread fast, the stock tanked, the boycotts started en masse, and now they are using their escape valve.

This is far from over. We'll see how the insider trading charges play, and there are rumors on the internets that 20/20 has a damning piece on Sinclair execs. lined up.
posted by Otis at 4:48 PM on October 19, 2004


I love, love, love the "No baby, wasn't me" response from Sinclair. Good lord.

Here's the LA Times article about Sinclair forcing it's affiliates to run the movie. (Registration req) This is where the story started. Here's an excerpt:

"Sinclair's programming plan, communicated to executives in recent days and coming in the thick of a close and intense presidential race, is highly unusual even in a political season that has been marked by media controversies. Sinclair has told its stations -- many of them in political swing states such as Ohio and Florida -- to air 'Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,' sources said. The film, funded by Pennsylvania veterans and produced by a veteran and former Washington Times reporter, 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, which may be classified as news programming, according to TV executives familiar with the plan."

"Sinclair stations are spread throughout the country, in major markets that include Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas; its only California station is in Sacramento. Fourteen of the 62 stations the company either owns or programs are in the key political swing states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where the presidential election is being closely fought. Station and network sources said they have been told the Sinclair stations -- which include affiliates of Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, as well as WB and UPN -- will be preempting regular programming for one hour between Oct. 21 and Oct. 24, depending on the city. The airing of "Stolen Honor" will be followed by a panel discussion, which Kerry will be asked to join, thus potentially satisfying fairness regulations, the sources said. Kerry campaign officials said they had been unaware of Sinclair's plans to air the film, and said Kerry had not received an invitation to appear."

Here's the NYT article with quotes from a Sinclair VP.

Truthout has some stuff.

Try as they might...they can't rewrite history anymore than the morons at Crossfire who thought they could scrub the Crossfire transcript without anyone noticing.

Honestly...these people just don't get the whole concept of the internets do they?
posted by dejah420 at 4:50 PM on October 19, 2004


Otis, no its not a victory but they are changing course because of all the pressure. Instead of champagne, how's about a shot of rotgut and then back to the front lines?

Dejah420, they continue to think that, if they keep saying it often enough, it will become the truth. Unfortunately for them, we've all got our internets and battling green eyeshades to fight back against them!
posted by fenriq at 5:04 PM on October 19, 2004


(Hoists tumbler of Night Train)

Brief interview clip of Leiberman post-firing here (video link next to headline).
posted by Otis at 5:40 PM on October 19, 2004


> I wonder if he commited a violation of some restriction to freedom of speech in contract or if he didn't

Media is commercial, so this whole notion of fairness, reporting the facts, etc are antiquited ideas that never really applied and are less relevant everyday. What matters in a publically held company is due dilligance towards stockholders. So everytime we call Fox News, MSBC, et al on their right-leaning bullshit, they can always reply with a perfectly legal and market-happy, "We're making money, bitches. Shut up."

Exactly how the market model helps produce a media that is fair is beyond me. If anything it contributes to the problem of newstainment and does not immunize the media outlet from "ownership bias." We had the Fairness Doctrine to take care of these problems here in the US, but Reagan pulled it, thus here we are.

I see two solutions, the return of a new FD or funding public media and producing a BBC-like organzation here in the states. PBS is hardly in same league as the BBC's news operation.

Also, its probably worth mentioning that media consolidation makes abuses like these all the more powerful.

>Nice stock chart... looks like the Sinclair board has all the business acumen of George W. Bush.

It gets worse. Six months ago they were trading DOUBLE what they were trading today. You don't have to be a Wall Street insider to understand how bad that is.
posted by skallas at 7:42 PM on October 19, 2004


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