Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

Soon to join the

Soon to join the jobless?

The DC Bureau chief of Sinclair Broadcasting, Jon Lieberman, is denouncing his employer's plan to air an hourlong, unpaid Swift Boat ad later this week, according to the Baltimore Sun.

"It's biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election ... For me, it's not about right or left -- it's about what's right or wrong in news coverage this close to an election."

Sinclair News VP Joe DeFeo has told Lieberman he risks being canned for speaking out and refusing to participate in the presentation of the 'documentary.'

While Gallup and ABCWaPo

While Gallup and ABC/WaPo are trending for Bush, Zogby is trending for Kerry. This morning Zogby has the two tied at 45%, from a 2 point Bush lead yesterday and four points the day before that.

To understand the presidents

To understand the president's trip to New Jersey and much of what's happening now in the campaign, I -- with apologies -- refer folks back to TPM's second ever post from November 13th, 2000, on Rove, his 'band-wagon' theory, and the Bush White House confidence game. This is very, very similar.

The best way to

"The best way to avoid the draft is to vote for me."

Those were George W. Bush's words yesterday on the campaign trail.

There's no better example of the tactical flexibility achieved when you completely cut campaign rhetoric off from reality.

As we've noted earlier, President Bush's policies don't necessitate a draft. But to claim that his policies make a draft less likely than John Kerry's policies is simply irrational.

If nothing else, consider the president's own rhetoric. Bush claims that Kerry will precipitously withdraw troops from Iraq. He also says that he, unlike Kerry, will pursue a more forward-leaning military-based war on terror. Those two claims simply aren't consistent with Kerry being more likely to bring back a draft.

In addition to being palpably false, what the president is saying doesn't even make sense -- at least to those of us in the 'reality-based community'. At least from the AP story linked above, the president's rationale seems to be that "The person talking about a draft is my opponent." I doubt very much that the president's folks even have a rationale for what he's saying. Words divorced from reality.

In the summer of

"In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'

Ron Suskind, "Without a Doubt", New York Times Magazine

In meetings Id ask

''In meetings, I'd ask if there were any facts to support our case. And for that, I was accused of disloyalty!''

Christie Whitman, as quoted by Ron Suskind in the New York Times Magazine.

A Lehman Brothers Equity

A Lehman Brothers Equity Research analyst report dated October 15th, 2004 makes the following comments about Sinclair Broadcast Group, Sinclair's decision to run "Stolen Honor", and the resultant boycott effort.

Under the headline "Mgmt Chooses Politics over Shareholders" the report notes the following ...

"In our opinion, Sinclair's decision to pre-empt programming to air 'Stolen Honor' is potentially damaging -- both financially and politically. In a best case scenario, we believe that this decision could result in lost ad revenues. In a worst case scenario, we believe the decision may lead to higher political risk. As mgmt has increased the co's political risk, we are reducing our 12-month price target to $9 (from $10)"

Attempts to contact the Lehman Brothers analyst, William M. Meyers, on Friday afternoon by phone and email were unsuccessful.

Reed Hundt responds to

Reed Hundt responds to Michael Powel<$NoAd$>l ...

Dear Josh:

As a former FCC chair, I read with interest -- and disappointment -- the following:

"Don't look to us to block the airing of a program," Michael Powell told reporters. "I don't know of any precedent in which the commission could do that."

Eighteen senators, all Democrats, wrote to Powell this week and asked him to investigate Sinclair Broadcast Group's plan to run the program, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," two weeks before the Nov. 2 election."

But no one has asked the FCC to bar Sinclair from showing the program. There are only two issues for the FCC and only two requests to Chairman Powell. The issues are: if Sinclair shows this anti-Kerry propaganda (which can be downloaded from Internet, lest anyone question the characterization), then (1) should it also give a free hour to pro-Kerry content selected by any authentic progressive organization, and (2) will Sinclair face at least the prospect after the fact of a review of its fulfillment of its public interest duties. And the two requests are: (1) will the Chairman of the FCC remind Sinclair and other broadcasters by word and deed that they have public interest obligations, and (2) will the Chairman of the FCC investigate now, before the propaganda airs, whether Sinclair has a duty to give an hour to pro-Kerry content selected by any progressive organization? Chairman Powell instead pretends that he has been asked to bar the showing of the propaganda -- which no one has asked him to do. His remarks are so far off the point, and he is so intelligent, that one must conclude that he knows what he is doing and intends the result -- tacit and plain encouragement of the use of the Sinclair airwaves to pursue a smear campaign. No broadcast group in the history of America has ever committed an hour to smearing a presidential candidate, and no FCC chairman before this one would have reacted with equanimity to this radical step down in broadcasting ethics. By the way, this FCC Chairman had no trouble issuing volumes of commentary about the obligation of broadcasters not to air indecent material during hours when children are in the audience. As important as that obligation is to many people, no less important to our democracy is the ability to conduct an election without the bombardment from the airwaves of station-sponsored propaganda. In any event, the current FCC Chairman is no stranger to the White House. They know who he is and what he says. So the White House can and should remind the Chairman of his duties and express publicly its expectation that broadcasters will honor our democracy by playing fair. This is what should happen. If it is not a prediction of what will happen, that's a sign of how far out of the mainstream the current Administration is. Reed Hundt, FCC Chair 1993-97


I'm here!