Kerry Opts Out of Sinclair Program

Oct 21, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s campaign announced Thursday that it will not participate in a Sinclair Broadcast Group program slated for Friday evening that is expected to include criticisms of Sen. Kerry’s Vietnam-era antiwar activities.

In a statement earlier this week, Sinclair said it had been negotiating with the campaign to include Sen. Kerry “or his designee” in the program, which is scheduled to air on 40 of the company’s 62 TV stations. But in a press release Thursday, Chad Clanton, a spokesman for the campaign, said, “The Kerry campaign is in no way cooperating with this discredited, partisan effort that Sinclair is poorly disguising as ‘news.'”

Under a barrage of criticism, Sinclair announced earlier this week its news special would air only parts of “Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal,” a documentary critical of Sen. Kerry’s antiwar role. Instead, Sinclair said its special, “A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media,” will focus “in part on the use of documentaries and other media to influence voting, which emerged during the 2004 political campaigns, as well as on the content of certain of these documentaries.”

Said the Kerry campaign’s Mr. Clanton in response: “Sinclair’s latest spin on this premeditated political attack is just a panicked attempt to appear fair and reasonable. Sinclair Broadcasting’s only motivation is political — they are committed to a one-sided smear. Their actions make it clear that promoting the fortunes of George W. Bush trumps any sense of obligation to the public trust.”

Andrew Schwartzman, president of the watchdog Media Access Project, said the Kerry campaign’s announcement did not moot a pending campaign request for equal air time to respond to Sinclair’s broadcast. “The Kerry campaign is saying, ‘We’re not going on where they [Sinclair] are controlling the format,'” Mr. Schwartzman said. “The time they have requested can be controlled by the candidate.”