It’s not the America I left 3 1/2 years ago

The country is so engulfed in politics that all rational thought and reason have come to a standstill. The latest scandal: the huge Sinclair Broadcast Group, which delivers TV programs to 24 percent of America’s homes, has declared it will not air ABC’s Nightline this evening, when Ted Koppel will read the names of the US soldiers killed thus far in our piece-of-cake war in Iraq. Sinclair says naming the soldiers’ names is “disrespectful” and politically motivated.

Sinclair is deeply in the sack with Shrub. Not only is it a heavy campaign donor, but it has broken all the rules of journalism, demanding that reporters not criticize Bush and refusing to run political ads they see as overly critical. Get all the sordid details here. (Update: You can call Sinclair Broadcast Group at 410-568-1500 to let them know how you feel.)

This comment from a reader over at BuzzFlash says it all:

To the White House and Its Mainstream Propaganda PR Megaphone and Major GOP Contributor, Sinclair Broadcasting:

If it’s disrespectful to name all those servicemen who have been killed in action, what in the world are we going to do with the Vietnam Memorial?

And take a guess who wrote the following letter to Sinclair’s CEO:

I write to strongly protest your decision to instruct Sinclair’s ABC affiliates to preempt this evening’s Nightline program. I find deeply offensive Sinclair’s objection to Nightline’s intention to broadcast the names and photographs of Americans who gave their lives in service to our country in Iraq.

I supported the President’s decision to go to war in Iraq, and remain a strong supporter of that decision. But every American has a responsibility to understand fully the terrible costs of war and the extraordinary sacrifices it requires of those brave men and women who volunteer to defend the rest of us; lest we ever forget or grow insensitive to how grave a decision it is for our government to order Americans into combat. It is a solemn responsibility of elected officials to accept responsibility for our decision and its consequences, and, with those who disseminate the news, to ensure that Americans are fully informed of those consequences.

There is no valid reason for Sinclair to shirk its responsibility in what I assume is a very misguided attempt to prevent your viewers from completely appreciating the extraordinary sacrifices made on their behalf by Americans serving in Iraq. War is an awful, but sometimes necessary business. Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war’s terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.

John Kerry? A lefty columnist at the NY Times? Wrong. It’s from Senator John McCain, one of the last remaining voices of sanity over at the Republican Party. Is anyone listening? Does anyone else see how unrestrained partisanship is wiping out America’s brain cells? What will it take to restore even a modicum of sanity in a country that’s endured four years of Bush brainwashing?

Things are ugly here. I could blog 24/7 about the daily outrages I’m seeing, direct results of the scorched-earth mentality of the Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft axis of evil. The “kinder, gentler nation” envisioned by George Bush Sr. has been shelved, usurped by a self-righteous, arrogant country that believes anything that stands in its way, be it in Iraq or in the United States, should be bulldozed over. But they couldn’t be doing this alone; their partner in crime is the US media, which has deteriorated into a mindless, spineless sycophant that seems to exist only to hump George Bush’s leg. More on that topic to come.

Update: One of the constant thorn in the left’s side, Howie Kurz of the Washington Post, rejected rumors that Nightline’s controversial broadcast last nioght was about ratings.

Mr Kurtz scoffed at his colleague’s accusations that this was a ratings stunt.

“This isn’t going to get big ratings. This isn’t scintillating television. This is a moving gesture,” he said.

And he pointed out that several executives of Sinclair are donors to President Bush’s Republican Party and to Mr Bush’s re-election campaign.

“If there is anybody has a political agenda here, it’s the people who don’t want the American public to see this particular 30-minute reading of the names of the fallen,” Mr Kurtz said.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 5 Comments

i just blogged abouot this, too.

i was taken aback by the idea that Sinclair Broadcasting felt that “Nightline’s” move was politically motivated.

So, that means that the public that feels “nightline” should have a right to do this must be politically motivated, too?

well, then, let the public be politically motivated. and let journalism feed the people.

April 30, 2004 @ 2:33 pm | Comment

Richard, ABC News personnel (Nightline’s producer? Have to search news.google.com…) and Koppel have claimed they are doing it now and not Memorial Day because “few people watch TV them”, and denied being aware that May 1 is the start of May Sweeps!

So they are either 1) lying or 2) imcompetant.

“Oh, I had No Idea sweeps started when we just happened to schedule it!” is their line. Those very thin denials of scheduling motive are what clearly says to me that the motive is political.
We’ll have to see how the actual presentation comes off.

When’s Ted gonna read the names of everyone killed in the Pentagon on 9/11?

April 30, 2004 @ 7:28 pm | Comment

David, my point wasn’t to say Koeppel and his crew are doing a saintly thing with no motives of their own. It was that Sinclair’s blocking out the show was a dangerous and ugly sign, especially considering how eager they are to slant the news in favor of Bush. Producers always come up with creative ways to boost ratings. Should we block them because we don’t think they’re being sincere?

I think there have been ceremonies when names of the WTC victims have been read; I know I’ve heard about this but can’t be sure. But to do that on Nightline wouldn’t be possible, as the list is too long. They aren’t going to read the names of the soldiers who were killed in noncombatant situations for the same reason. There just isn’t time.

I’m sure the producer knows all about the sweeps. But does that make the idea invalid? I don’t think so. There’s been a wave of protest about Sinclair’s move to censor from the left and the right alike. Even David Brooks tonight on the News Hours said he thought reading the names was a good idea.

April 30, 2004 @ 8:07 pm | Comment

Well, let’s also see if they mention even how many died under Saddams rule from his various genocidal internal repressions, hmm?

May 1, 2004 @ 3:15 pm | Comment

let’s also see if they mention even how many died under Saddams rule from his various genocidal internal repressions, hmm?

Reports of Saddam’s cruelty, of the death camps and mass graves, were a staple of US journalism for many months leading up to the war, and in the months following. There has never been an attempt that I know of to hide Saddam’s brutality from the public or to supress the number of his victims. I’ve read countless articles on his massacre of the Kurds using chemical weapons, not to mention his torure and murder of political enemies. The US mainstream media covered this zealously, as it should.

This murderousness, this barbarity was the main reason that I supported the invasion and liberation, even if i constantly complained about how Bush was handling it. Saddam was a monster and I always wanted to see him gone by whatever means possible. I’ve just been in shock for the past year as we took the most spectacular victory and promptly turned it into a disaster for all.

May 1, 2004 @ 3:38 pm | Comment

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