Central Casting: The Times covers Sinclair

Today, as the FCC votes to relax media ownership rules, The New York Times writes about "central casting," the format Sinclair Broadcast Group uses to simulate local news. From their offices in Maryland, the company uses a stable of on-air talents--from the weatherman who pretends to be in Flint to a corporate VP who offers right-wing commentaries to close off a newscast--to provide content to 62 local news stations (you might have read about it here or here).
To the company, it is an efficient way to cut the costs of local journalism, bringing news to small stations that otherwise would go without.

But to opponents of a proposal before the Federal Communications Commission to loosen media ownership rules, the set in Maryland is a frightening sign of things to come.

Today the commission is expected to enact new rules that will allow media companies to increase the percentage of the national television audience they can reach from 35 to possibly 45. It is also expected to make it easier for companies to own two or even three stations in a single market--or a newspaper and television station in a single market.

Traitors and Sympathizers

"If you do not support our President's decisions, you are a traitor," proclaims the website ProBush.com. Its "Traitor List" includes the usual cast--Michael Moore, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon--but also a few surprises: Dr. Patch Adams, artist Laurie Anderson, guitarist Bill Frisell, dancer Bill T. Jones, Jimmy Carter, and James Abourezk. Who? Abourezk is a senator from South Dakota, and he's not pleased about being included on the list. According to The Progressive, he's suing the website and its editor/publisher, Michael Marino, for defamation. He's seeking $2 million in actual damages, $3 million in punitive damages, plus attorney's fees and the removal of any reference to Abourezk on the website. "They've impugned my integrity and my patriotism," says Abourezk.

Tom Tomorrow makes an excellent point about the logic of the likes of Marino--or, rather, his cousins who defame anti-war activists like Sarandon and Noam Chomsky as "terrorist sympathizers." Refering to those who feel for the plight of accused Olympic Park pipe bomber Eric Rudolph, he writes, " I wonder how soon the vociferious denunciations of these actual terrorist sympathizers will begin":
Betty Howard made many people happy today, and it was not for her daily special. Around noon, Mrs. Howard walked outside, glanced up at the sign in front of her diner and decided to change the lettering on the marquee from "Roast Turkey Baked Ham" to "Pray for Eric Rudolph."

"Bless his heart," Mrs. Howard said. "Eric needs our help."

* * *

"I didn't see him bomb nobody," said Hoke Henson, 77. "You can't always trust the feds."
Concluded Tomorrow: "Except when it comes to WMDs in Iraq, and then you can trust the federal government implicitly because they'd never lie. Speaking of which, it appears that--at least, according to the hard right NewsMax site--Paul Wolfowitz is now floating the idea that Saddam was not only the mastermind behind 9/11, but was also responsible for Oklahoma City and the 1993 WTC bombing. Wonder if the folks in Peachtree are gonna trust the feds on that one."

No comments: