Sunday, October 17, 2004

American News | Fairness, balance should matter all the time

American News | Fairness, balance should matter all the time: "A question for supporters of George W. Bush.
Have you heard that CBS is planning to air Michael Moore's ''Fahrenheit 9/11'' next week? And that, in order to get around equal time guidelines, they're going to classify it as news programming?
Does that hack you off? Good. Hold that thought.
The fact is, you haven't heard that news because it's not happening. But something similar is. It involves the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. That Maryland-based company, a major donor to the Republican Party, owns, programs or operates 62 television stations in 39 U.S. markets. It's ordered those stations to air a film next week that's reported to be harshly critical of John Kerry's activities as an anti-war protester in the early 1970s. ''Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,'' is said to portray Kerry as, in essence, a traitor. Filmmaker Carlton Sherwood gives voice to former prisoners of war who claim Kerry's protests gave aid and comfort to their Vietnamese captors.
Sherwood offered Kerry no chance to rebut the charges because ''he's had 33 years of all the press coverage he's wanted.''
Which is about as journalistically irresponsible as it gets.
Yet Sinclair is calling the movie a news program in order to skirt an FCC rule requiring television stations to provide equal time to candidates for federal office. Frankly, it's unclear whether the film would have violated at least the letter of that regulation. After all, ''Stolen Honor'' provides plenty of time to Kerry; it's just that it's all negative. But since news broadcasts are exempt, Sinclair has chosen to take no chances and has slapped that label on."


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