Archive | October, 2004

Sinclair Doesn’t Mess Around: Reporter Fired for Speaking Out

The boys over at Sinclair don’t miss a beat in emulating their heroes in the Bush Administration — they’ve already shit-canned their Washington bureau chief (click here for the registration-free version of that article) over comments he made that were critical of Sinclair’s decision to force its stations to air an anti-Kerry program in prime time . Apparently, there’s no room for deliberation or debate in the Sinclair newsroom — just like the GW Bush White House.

Even if Sinclair is maintaining strict control over its own house, the bosses sure aren’t doing their stock any favors — it’s down another 12% since Oct. 11, when the anti-Kerry program plans came to light. USA Today lists out some other boneheaded antics that have investors pissed:

…[I]n at least 11 regulatory filings last year and this year, Sinclair blamed the Iraq war for $2.2 million in lost ad revenue. Sinclair’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission say the Iraq conflict prompted advertisers to cancel or forced stations to pre-empt ads for news. …

Investors also challenged Sinclair’s decision in 2002 to invest $20 million in Summa Holdings, an auto dealership controlled by CEO David Smith. This year Sinclair said it would make no additional investments in Summa.

Sinclair’s attempt to use the Iraq war as an excuse for lost ad revenue is especially ironic (or moronic) since the company heralded its coverage of “positive” news from Iraq filed in special reports by VP and reserve Naval intelligence officer Mark Hyman, who otherwise has no journalism training whatsoever. Sinclair claimed that other news organizations were focusing on the bad news — like continued terrorist attacks and US soldier deaths — at the expense of the so-called good news of newfound Iraqi freedom, which Sinclair would choose to highlight in these special reports.

Perhaps advertisers prefer to sponsor news that is a little more crafty about hiding its propaganda?

Even though I have no love for Wall Street, I’m glad to see that investors are also crtical of Sinclair’s more egregiously partisan and corrupt actions. It helps demonstrate the lie of ideological neo-conservatism — that somehow conservatives are better at running things due to “sound busines practices.”

Rather, neo-conservatives are better at lining their own pockets, rewarding cronies and punishing enemies. Sinclair is showing itself to be amongst the best at all of that within the broadcast industry. And that’s no easy feat when you’re up against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for the prize.

Continue Reading

Sinclair’s Lead Political Reporter Denounces Anti-Kerry Program

Today the Baltimore Sun reports that the Washington bureau chief for Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group’s news division has come out to denounce his employer for forcing all of its owned and operated stations to air an anti-Kerry program:

“It’s biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election,” said Jon Leiberman, Sinclair’s lead political reporter for more than a year. “For me, it’s not about right or left — it’s about what’s right or wrong in news coverage this close to an election.” …

Leiberman spoke out yesterday after a mandatory staff meeting attended by Sinclair’s corporate news division at company headquarters in Hunt Valley.

“I have nothing to gain here — and really, I have a lot to lose,” Leiberman said. “At the end of the day, though, all you really have is your credibility.”

It’s too bad that it’s rare event when a commerical news media journalist dares to speak up about journalistic ethics, especially directly to his employer and at the risk of losing his job. Leiberman should be commended, however I wonder how the guy has managed to hang with Sinclair as long as he has, since the company is infamous for cutting corners with its news operations. Of course, to some extent, I’m sure the guy is just glad to have a job as a journalist in the first place.

Given the relative silence of corporate-employed journalists about the compromises and restrictions they face at the hands of their masters, it should be apparent that things at Sinclair must be pretty damn bad in order to force Leiberman to speak out so clearly.

You can read the full article at the Baltimore Sun, but you’ll need yet another registration. If you want to forgo that, the kind folks at Free Press have archived it under the auspices of Fair Use.

Continue Reading

Talkin’ to the Press about Sinclair

Oh the joys of living in a small town… It means that if you do a local community radio show on the media, then you, too, can become a media pundit.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was interviewed by a Daily Illini reporter for a story on Sinclair airing the anti-Kerry documentary. I’m relieved to say that the reporter did an OK job and I don’t end up sounding like too much of an ass, except that he has me saying that the Urbana-Champaign IMC condemns Sinclair’s actions, which I didn’t say at all, and isn’t true. (even if most individual IMCistas would themselves condemn Sinclair).

It’s always a roll of the dice talking to the mainstream press, since reporters don’t have much time to research and write an article, and 5 or 10 minute phone interview typically gets boiled down to one or two quotes. It’s not a great venue for making fine distinctions or nuanced comments. (although, it sometimes suprises me at how blind to nuance the process can be).

Continue Reading

Comment On Sinclair

Free Press has set up a page to help you find your local Sinclair-owned TV station in order to contact it and also send a comment to the FCC.

I can get with the canned e-mail they have to send to the FCC:

Sinclair Broadcasting’s decision to force their stations to air an anti-Kerry documentary days before the election is a clear example of the dangers of media consolidation.

Sinclair uses the public airwaves free of charge, and is obligated by law to serve the public interest. But when large companies control the airwaves, we get more of what’s good for the bottom line and less of what we need for our democracy. Instead of something produced at “News Central” far away, it’s more important that we see real people from our own communities and more substantive news about issues that matter.

But I can’t help but think something a little more guerrilla is in order — like hijacking an STL, or sending a bogus press release that looks like it’s from your local Sinclair station, annoucing how they’ve reconsidered and will play a documentary on Che Guevara instead.

Continue Reading

Problems with Radio Show archives solved

In order to lighten the load on the server that hosts, I was using’s Freecache service to cache the 64 kbps mp3 and ogg archives of the radioshow. Unfortunately, Freecache died without any real notice, putting these archives off-line, and I didn’t figure it out until today.

Luckily, it’s an easy problem to solve, and all the affected archives are back on-line now.

Continue Reading

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes