In One Ear, Out the Other

Propaganda and recycling—a great combination for Sinclair

In the last frantic month of the presidential campaign, the GOP has finally caught on to recycling—even while it continues to spew irritants at us through its monopoly enterprises.

Call this episode an example of swing-state Swift-boat economics—recycling as only the GOP would do it: The Sinclair Broadcast Group, a GOP sugar daddy and the prime producer of its own Swift boat swill (last week's Stolen Honor pseudo-show), is also raking in revenue from other Swift boat propagandists.

It's a good way for Sinclair to recoup some of the money it lost for pre-empting prime time last Friday to sprinkle its own fairy dust on cathodized Americans.

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And this set-up just keeps recycling wads of money from one anti-Kerry operation to another, paying for hit pieces every time the cash lands on someone's desk.

Sinclair's station in Pensacola, Florida, WEAR-TV, raked in a cool $142,111.50 on October 19 for airing anti-Kerry ads placed by the Swift Boat Vets for Truth, according to Federal Election Commission records of Section 527 "electioneering" committees. This specific 105-page report, covering only the week of October 15-21, shows that the Swift Boat Vets took in $3.8 million, mostly from millionaires, and spent $3.4 million on propaganda campaigns. Do we even have to point out how insane this spending is? (Yes, pro-Kerry forces do the same thing.)

Back to Sinclair: On the same day, October 19, the huge pro-Bush chain, the nation's largest single cluster of TV stations, also scored $4,471 through WTWC-TV in Tallahassee, Florida, from the Swift Boat Vets.

And in the other major battleground state, Ohio, Sinclair's WSYX-TV, in Columbus, hauled in $59,925. On October 20.

Keep in mind that we're talking about only one campaign committee giving money to one media conglomerate in one short period of time. And whatever cash Sinclair might take in from anti-Bush committees is just so much gravy.

For more information on the increasing corporatization of media outlets—electronic or otherwise—consult Columbia Journalism Review's Who Owns What.

One of the best watchdog orgs these days is Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), which recently reported on the flip side of the Sinclair sordidness: Viacom's refusal to air anti-Bush ads. Check out the story here, in which FAIR notes that Viacom czar Sumner Redstone announced support of Bush over Kerry, after which its networks, which include MTV and Comedy Central (it also owns CBS), rejected anti-Bush ads. FAIR adds:

The independent progressive group Compare Decide Vote produced an ad comparing the presidential candidates' policy positions on issues important to young people, which the group says was accepted for placement by MTV Network's Comedy Central. Two days later, the station rejected the ad, citing an MTV Networks policy against running advocacy ads (Washington Post, 10/13/04).

"The reason behind our policy distinction between issue-ads and political campaign ads is simply that across all our properties, we talk about these issues every day," explained a Viacom spokesperson (Media Daily News, 10/13/04).

That reasoning—that outside perspectives on important political issues are blocked because Viacom's own coverage of the issues is sufficient—is undermined by CBS's recent decision to hold until after the election a 60 Minutes story on forged documents that the Bush administration used to sell the Iraq war. The network said it "would be inappropriate to air the report so close to the presidential election." (See FAIR Action Alert, 9/28/04.)

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