A Political Act?

A Political Act?

This has nothing to do with books or reading, but it does deal with journalism. I can’t help but share it. I recently read (on another blog that I admire very much) about how tonight’s broadcast of ABC’s Nightline will not be aired across the country. The entire broadcast was going to consist simply of Ted Koppel reading the names of those soldiers who have died in the war, as their pictures are put on screen. The rumor is that not every affiliate is going to carry it. (From what I read, Sinclair, the company that promises not broadcast tonight’s show, only owns eight stations across the Midwest). Here is a letter about it, put out by a few liberal organizations:

“Tonight, ABC’s Nightline is doing something beautiful and courageous. The entire show will consist of a reading of the names of each soldier who has fallen in Iraq, while his or her photograph shows on the screen.

But ABC affiliate stations around the country will be prohibited from airing the special. That’s because they’re owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a company whose executives have given tens of thousands to Republicans and whose right-wing allies tout it as “the next Fox.” [1]

In a statement released earlier this week, the company said that to honor the men and women who died in this way would be a political act that is “contrary to the public interest.” Censoring images of the fallen serves the right-wing ideologues who pushed the war in Iraq, but it certainly doesn’t serve our country to hide those who were killed.

In order to highlight this censorship and let other media outlets know that it’s not OK, we’re asking you to write a letter to the editor of your local paper. It doesn’t actually take very long — you can do it in ten minutes or less.

Military families have called on Sinclair to air the special tonight. Jane Bright of Military Families Speak Out is the mother of Sgt. Evan Ashcraft, who died July 24, 2003, near Mosul, Iraq. She said: “The Sinclair Broadcast Group is trying to undermine the lives of our soldiers killed in Iraq. By censoring Nightline they want to hide the toll the war on Iraq is having on thousands of soldiers and their families, like mine.” [2]

According to ABC News, “The Nightline broadcast is an expression of respect which simply seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country.”

Yet Sinclair refuses to distinguish between public mourning and a statement against the war: “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.” [3]

Take a few minutes to write a letter to the editor to make sure the word gets out.

Nightline is also certain to get lots of nasty right-wing hate mail about this broadcast. Show them the overwhelming support for this sort of recognition of the young men and women killed in Iraq with a quick note at:

Finally, you can call on Sinclair to honor our troops and run the Nightline special at:

David D. Smith, CEO
Sinclair Broadcast Group
(410) 568-1500 x1504

Then tune in to ABC tonight to see Nightline’s special tribute to our lost servicemen and women.”

[1] http://freepress.net/news/article.php?id=3334
[2] http://www.mfso.org/
[3] http://poynter.org/forum/?id=misc