- The Washington Times - Monday, October 11, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Democratic Party and 18 senators are objecting to a broadcasting company’s plan to air on 62 television stations a critical documentary about John Kerry’s anti-war activities after he returned home from Vietnam three decades ago.

Sinclair Broadcast Group has asked its television stations — many of them in competitive states in the presidential election — to pre-empt regular programming to run the documentary as part of an hourlong program two weeks before the Nov. 2 election.

Based near Baltimore, the company owns or manages affiliates of major broadcast networks in several states, including Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Mark Hyman, a vice president of corporate relations at Sinclair and a conservative commentator for the company, said yesterday that the show would contain some or all of the 42-minute documentary as well as a panel discussion of some sort. He said final details had not been settled.

The documentary, “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” chronicles Mr. 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 say Mr. Kerry’s testimony — filled with “lurid fantasies of butchery in Vietnam” on the part of U.S. troops — demeaned them and led their captors to hold the POWs longer.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) planned to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission today contending that Sinclair’s airing of the film should be considered an illegal in-kind contribution to President Bush’s campaign. Also, 18 Democratic senators sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission asking that it investigate whether Sinclair’s plan was an improper use of public airwaves.

However, Mr. Hyman said, “The documentary is just a part of a special news event that we’re putting together. We’ve invited one person to be a guest. That’s Senator John Kerry.” The company posted a note on its Web site yesterday afternoon urging people to call Mr. Kerry’s headquarters to request his participation.

Chad Clanton, a Kerry campaign spokesman, said, “Everything is on the table, but it’s hard to take an offer seriously from a group with such a fierce partisan agenda, a group that’s clearly not interested in the truth.”

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe said the company was acting as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party rather than a legitimate news outlet.

“In this election cycle, they have put their money where their right-wing mouths are,” he said. “Sinclair’s owners aren’t interested in news. They’re interested in pro-Bush propaganda.”

Campaign-finance records show that the company’s executives have donated thousands of dollars to Mr. Bush’s campaign. In April, Sinclair was in the news for refusing to run a “Nightline” show in which hundreds of names of American troops killed in Iraq were read by ABC anchor Ted Koppel.

Mr. Hyman called the accusations about the documentary “absolutely absurd.”

“Would they suggest that our reporting a car bomb in Iraq is an in-kind contribution to the Kerry campaign? Would they suggest that our reporting on job losses is an in-kind contribution to the Kerry campaign?” he said. “It’s the news. It is what it is. We’re reporting the news.”

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