Joined: 06 May 2004
|Posted: Fri Jan 14, 2005 11:31 am Post subject: NCTimes.com: "The distinct odor of hypocrisy"
|The distinct odor of hypocrisy
By JIM TRAGESER - Staff Writer
Serving San Diego and Riverside Counties
When filmmaker Michael Moore was uninvited to Cal State San Marcos last fall, our self-appointed guardians of free speech rose in fury at this ham-fisted act of censorship.
When the Federal Communications Commission fined a bunch of radio stations for Howard Stern's excretory oratory around the same time, many of the same voices howled about how dissent was being silenced.
And when conservative groups successfully pressured CBS to pull a reportedly unflattering documentary on President Reagan last year, the network was accused by free-speech activists of caving in to private censors on the right. Those critical of CBS' decision complained that viewers were being robbed of an opportunity to hear a dissenting point of view.
Yet with an avowedly liberal, activist organization now trying to punish Sinclair Broadcasting Group for airing portions of a documentary critical of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry on the eve of the election, all we hear is ---- silence.
Media Matters for America has gotten Staples to pull its ads from Sinclair's newscasts, and the group is bringing pressure to bear on other advertisers as well, in protest of Sinclair's airing of portions of "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," a documentary critical of Kerry's anti-war political activities in the 1970s ---- a documentary that never received the media attention that Moore's anti-Bush "Fahrenheit 9/11" got.
It is difficult to reconcile the hue and cry in the above examples with the virtual silence on the Sinclair campaign. Given the above statements of support for diversity of discourse, the lack of public outrage toward the Sinclair campaign has the distinct odor of hypocrisy about it.
Interestingly, when the L.A. Times published last-minute accusations against Arnold Schwarzenegger on the eve of the recall, many free-speech groups came to the Times' defense in dismissing charges of bias made by Arnold's supporters. The same went ---- at first ---- for CBS' airing of a story about President Bush's National Guard records shortly before the election, although that story later turned out to have been based on what were likely forged documents, and CBS retracted it.
So the issue here apparently isn't last-minute reportage of a critical or even controversial nature, because most free-speech groups supported the Times and CBS. Yet there has been virtual silence on the Sinclair campaign ---- no protest of "censorship," no demands that the sacred right to disagree be defended.
If students in North County had ---- as the free-speech crowd argued ---- a constitutional right to hear open criticism of a sitting president about to face the voters, then surely Sinclair's viewers had a similar right in regard to that president's major opponent.
The only question is, who will stand up to defend that right?
Contact staff writer Jim Trageser at (760) 740-5424 or email@example.com.