Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Sick & Twisted Mind behind Sinclair

At The Nation, John Nicholls takes a look at the Orwellian culture of Sinclair, a culture so putrid with fanatical right-wing bias that it makes Fox look 'Fair and Balanced':

If you want to see the Orwellian media future that the Bush administration envisions, pay close attention to Sinclair. This cobbled-together collection of television "properties" is not a network but a media holding company that owns 62 of the most miserable excuses for broadcast outlets in the country. "Quality" has never been a watchword for Sinclair, a firm that pioneered the one-size-fits-all approach to mass media. When Sinclair buys a station is some long-suffering community, it fires the local staffers and begins feeding the locals a steady diet of disembodied and disengaged "content" spewed out of the company's media mill near Baltimore.


Much of the hatred and distortion Sinclair contaminates the information stream with issues from the ugly, twisted soul of its corporate vice-president for corporate relations, Mark Hyman. Nicholls has a great turn of phrase:

But the main product of Sinclair's media mill is the slurry of right-wing dogma drooled from the lips of corporate vice president for corporate relations Mark Hyman. Ideologically in-synch with the bosses at Sinclair -- who have given over $170,000 to Republican causes over the past decade, including $59,000 so far in this year's campaign -- Hyman force feeds editorials to all 62 company- owned stations in order to shore up the conservative cause. A good deal of shoring up those editorials can do, as those stations reach 25 percent of all American households.

Hyman makes Sean Hannity sound like a sensible moderate. The Sinclair mouthpiece specializes in scorched-earth attacks on anyone who sees through the distortions of the Bush administration. He refers to members of Congress who criticize the war in Iraq as "unpatriotic politicians who hate our military." Whenever mainstream media outlets practice anything akin to journalism, Hyman condemns the offending outlets as the "hate America crowd." During the current campaign, Hyman has been a one-man propaganda machine, spinning out anti-Kerry commentaries and repeating even the most discredited lies about Kerry's Vietnam record on stations that broadcast in at least eleven of this year's seventeen battleground states.

Over the past month, Hyman has produced eleven broadcast editorials that explicitly attack Kerry, one that explicitly attacked Teresa Heinz Kerry, two that explicitly attacked Democratic candidates for Congress and two that generically attacked Democratic candidates for Congress. If Hyman's goal is to make Fox look "fair and balanced" by comparison with Sinclair, he's succeeding. And, in recent days, he has spun into overdrive.

When the controversy about Sinclair's decision to scrap regular programming in order to air Stolen Honor heated up, Hyman went spinning into Orwellian overdrive. He accused the nation's broadcast and cable networks -- including, presumably, Rupert Murdoch's Republicans Uber Alles Fox network -- of collaborating to "suppress" anti-Kerry news. Because they have not aired "Stolen Honor" or given time to the embittered Kerry critics featured in the production, Hyman says: "They are acting like Holocaust deniers..." When Democrats suggested that Sinclair's decision to air the anti-Kerry documentary so close to the election should be seen as an in-kind contribution to Bush and the Republicans, Hyman replied. "if you use that logic and reasoning, that means every car bomb in Iraq would be considered an in-kind contribution to John Kerry."

Orwell would have had to stretch even his creative powers to come up with a propagandist who compares the decisions of news departments not to cover discredited claims with the denial of Nazi genocide.

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