FCC Bails On Sinclair Decision

The FCC today announced that it would not prevent Sinclair Broadcasting from making it's television affiliates air "Stolen Honor," the Anti-Kerry film that has caused such a stir this week. MSNBC has the skinny:

The Federal Communications Commission won’t intervene to stop a broadcast company’s plans to air a critical documentary about John Kerry’s anti-Vietnam War activities on dozens of TV stations, the agency’s chairman said Thursday.

“Don’t look to us to block the airing of a program,” Michael Powell told reporters. “I don’t know of any precedent in which the commission could do that.”

Eighteen senators, all Democrats, wrote to Powell this week and asked him to investigate Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.’s plan to run the program, “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” two weeks before the Nov. 2 election.

Powell said there are no federal rules that would allow the agency to prevent the program. “I think that would be an absolute disservice to the First Amendment, and I think it would be unconstitutional if we attempted to do so,” he said.

He said he would consider the senators’ concerns but added that they may not amount to a formal complaint, which could trigger an investigation. FCC rules require that a program air before a formal complaint can be considered.

Sinclair, based outside Baltimore, has asked its 62 television stations — many of them in competitive states in the presidential election — to pre-empt regular programming to run the documentary. It chronicles Kerry’s 1971 testimony before Congress and links him to activist and actress Jane Fonda. It includes interviews with Vietnam prisoners of war and their wives who claim Kerry’s testimony demeaned them and led their captors to hold them longer.

In the letter to Powell, the senators — led by Dianne Feinstein of California — asked the FCC to determine whether the airing of the anti-Kerry program is a “proper use of public airwaves” and to investigate whether it would violate rules requiring equal air time for candidates.

Separately, the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday contending that Sinclair’s airing of the film should be considered an illegal in-kind contribution to President Bush’s campaign.

What is up with this crap that it has to air before they can investigate? Do they want people to break the rules just so they can fine them more? I don't understand that part at all. Hey, let's point out that that FCC Chair Michael Powell is Collin Powell's son, so he might have a slight conflict of interest here. Sure, I've heard Powell say before that he didn't plan to return for a second term, but I don't think it matters. Meanwhile, the Washington Dispatch posted this horribly misguided editorial about the same issue:

Chairman Powell is absolutely correct; the First Amendment should take precedence in this case. The Stolen Honor Web site bills the film as a “documentary exposing John Kerry’s record of betrayal” and is scheduled to run on 62 Sinclair stations between now and November. Most likely the documentary will air between October 21st and 24th.

Sinclair Broadcasting has offered John Kerry time on its affiliates to air a rebuttal. So far, John Kerry has passed on that offer.

Those 62 Sinclair stations reach nearly a quarter of American television households. The political left is outraged, but will now have to hope the FEC blocks the film, or a grass roots rally will pressure the stations into stopping the documentary. And that’s really how it should be. The First Amendment demands this film be allowed to hit the airwaves. Unless it is shown to break campaign finance laws, or the affiliates or Sinclair cave to pressure, the company has a right to show it, and American people have a right to view it.

...Upset folks are not enough to stop this film on First Amendment principles and it’s good to see the FCC uphold a cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution.

Ah, so a "cornerstone of our U.S. Constitution" is that we should use "public airwaves" for propoganda? Heck, stuff like this get's played on Sinclair-owned airwaves every day:

Kerry and The Communists

A significant effect of the John Kerry-led 1971 protests was it strengthened the resolve of the North Vietnamese to continue to hold American POWs (see here).

The Nhan Dan daily newspaper of the North Vietnamese Communist party wrote that the protests in the United States were "a wave among the big waves which are rising higher and higher."

The paper also referred to the Kerry group as the "millions of American troops who have participated in the criminal war in Vietnam and were sent back to the United States to the ingratitude of the U.S. administration and indifference of many of their compatriots."

In an editorial, the Saigon Post newspaper of democratic South Vietnam viewed the anti-war demonstrations in the U.S. "with sorrow." The paper went on saying "It is indeed sad when the very witnesses to aggression, terrorism and inhumanity now turn their backs on truth in the safety of home."

The Kerry-led protests emboldened Communist forces to launch offensive operations against American and South Vietnamese defensive positions only days later.

Kerry's hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe reported: "Enemy troops launched two attacks on U.S. and South Vietnamese positions in the north yesterday and staged commando and mortar assaults elsewhere across South Vietnam inflicting severe losses and ending a period of relative calm."

The most persuasive evidence of the devastating effect Kerry, his testimony, and his planned protests had on American troops are summed up by 5-1/2 year POW, Mike Benge.

Mike Benge, Vietnam War POW said, "But they (the North Vietnamese) named John Kerry themselves. Because of what he did. That gave them the encouragement to continue fighting and prolonging the war."

Kerry has a lifetime of experience in foreign policy. Unfortunately, it is a lifetime of supporting Communist forces opposed to the U.S. in Vietnam, in Nicaragua, in pushing for unilateral U.S. disarmament while the Soviets continued their military build-up or by doing their bidding by voting against nearly every major defense program in 20 years of Senate service.

John Kerry may make a good president. Just not for the U.S.

And that's The Point.

I'm Mark Hyman.

Right, he is Mark Hyman, after all. He should be allowed to spew that sort of politically pointed message to people everywhere, daily, over airwaves granted to him by the government. Airwaves intended to broadcast "news", entertainment, etc. While it is perhaps fair game to have a daily opinion dispersed, a required, hour-long, commercial-free ad pointed directly at the political candidate you'd like to see lose, during the final weeks of the campaign no less, seems a bit on the side of wrong.

Of course, the type of person who supports this type of thing is likely to make statements like the one below(quoted from the Dispatch article's "comments" section:

I find it amusing the dems are frantic about airing this on tv, where were they when Michal Moore was showing his documented lies regarding a President that has the guts to stand up and fight terrorists rather than wait for them to come and attack us again. I fear that Kerry will win the election on lies from the Hollywood left and the find it amusing that the Kerry camp has spent so much time and money trying to block this and the Swiftboat Veterans. Kerry wanted America to vote for him because he served and was'wounded' in order to get the medals he needed to run for President. I am amazed the the Kerry Media Machine hasn't made this more of an issue.

Right, asshole. Lies like Fahrenheit 9/11. President Bush said and did everything in that movie. No one has been able to debunk the pure facts that it is based on. Certainly, a few liberties were taken. It's "entertainment" and it's not all true. But it does paint a picture of a poorly run Presidency and a war that was based on false pretense that has cost thousands of lives, American and otherwise. Sure, we might win the election on "lies." If Bush wins, though, that would be a campaign based on, what exactly? Mistruths? Yeah, that sounds about right.
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