Sinclair is an ideological company — the evidence is all over the place — and it has a right to be. We certainly don’t support any of the legal efforts under discussion to block airtime for “Stolen Honor,” nor do we think any government entity should ever define what is or is not news. But by packaging “Stolen Honor” as honest news and injecting it into so many American living rooms days before a close election, the company is abusing its media power. It has discredited its own journalists and angered some of its own advertisers and investors (“I don’t want my media companies that cover the news to be making news,” Barry Lucas of Gabelli &Co., which owns about four percent of Sinclair, told USA Today). Its stock is tanking. Some of its shareholders are threatening to sue.
Like most media companies, Sinclair would like the freedom to buy more stations in more markets and reach more and more Americans. A Bush administration would help that cause; Kerry would not, and thus Sinclair would like to help Bush. By doing so in this manner, however, the company has become a poster child for the citizen groups who would like to limit such raw media power.
Therefore, one last thought — we would like to award Sinclair the Colonel Klink Marksmanship Award as well, for managing to shoot itself in both feet.
Michael Hoyt is the executive editor of Columbia Journalism Review, Campaign Desk’s parent.