Raging Against the Machine

By now, you know that Nightline will devote tomorrow’s broadcast solely to reading the names of those brave souls killed in action in Iraq. Their pictures will be shown on screen while Ted Koppel reads their names. I’ve urged you to see, as I think it’s a great way to pay tribute on the night prior to the anniversary of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech–you know, the one that celebrated the end of “major” combat operations.

But if you’re in a market where the ABC affiliate is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, you’re out of luck, because those stations–save for one–won’t broadcast Nightline tomorrow night. Here’s what Sinclair Broadcasting had to say:


The ABC Television network announced on Tuesday that the Friday, April 30th edition of “Nightline? will consist entirely of Ted Koppel reading aloud the names of U.S. servicemen and women killed in action in Iraq. Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.

While the Sinclair Broadcast Group honors the memory of the brave members of the military who have sacrificed their lives in the service of our country, we do not believe such political statements should be disguised as news content. As a result, we have decided to preempt the broadcast of “Nightline? this Friday on each of our stations which air ABC programming.

We understand that our decision in this matter may be questioned by some. Before you judge our decision, however, we would ask that you first question Mr. Koppel as to why he chose to read the names of the 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorists attacks since and including the events of September 11, 2001. In his answer, you will find the real motivation behind his action scheduled for this Friday.

To which I say: Bollocks. I’d say something a bit stronger, but I observe a no-cursing policy on this blog.

I’m beyond certain that if Nightline were broadcasting a triumphal welcome home parade for us, Sinclair Broadcasting would be falling all over itself in a desperate attempt to plaster coverage of that all over the place.

But the minute news coverage turns to something that will force us to consider whether our excellent Iraqi adventure is worth the ultimate sacrifice of so many of our loved ones, the pro-war claque starts screaming about how biased coverage is.

Look, personally, like Anthony Zinni and so many others, I think we need to stay in Iraq, for a variety of reasons. But in order to make that decision responsibly, we need to have all the facts at our disposal. By refusing to display pictures of our dead, by refusing to broadcast anything but the most saccharine displays of we-love-the-troops boosterism, and by refusing to discuss the very real costs of war, supporters of the Administration’s actions deny us the ability to judge whether persevering in Iraq is truly worth it.

In addition, they deny us the opportunity to properly grieve–and honor–those Americans who gave the last full measure of devotion for what the Administration has called a battle for freedom and liberty. If that is the case, if we are truly battling for freedom, liberty, and democracy, then we should honor that sacrifice.

If you’re interested in letting the heads of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group how you feel about their decision not to honor the 522 dead Americans in Iraq, here are their emails:

Daniel Smith–dsmith@sbgnet.com (Chairman & CEO)
Matthew Hyman–mhyman@sbgnet.com
John Leiber–jleiber@sbgnet.com

And here’s the phone number for the executive group (that’s the three blokes above): (410) 568-1500 x1504.

I’d write more, but I’m just too angry to do so. I just might say something I regret.


2 responses to “Raging Against the Machine

  1. Rich Puchalsky

    There are certain statements so breathtakingly cynical, such obvious lies, that you feel almost more angry at those taken in by them then at those issuing them. This Sinclair Broadcast Group statement is one such.

    Note the perfection of reversal. It denounces an action that “appears to be motivated by a political agenda” and it is itself defending an action undertaken in pursuit of a political agenda. It claims that the Group “honors the memory of the brave members of the military” while suppressing the news show designed to honor them. And finally it asks the reader to question before they judge — but, of course, the statement presents a judgement of Mr. Koppel before hearing or presenting his answer.

  2. Prancing the edge of fascist-like press control here. Throttling the flow of information and ideas…

    Sorry, my head’s going to explode.