Confessions Of A Political Junkie: Sinclair v. John Q.

October 12, 2004

Sinclair v. John Q.

No one is screaming foul for TNT making "John Q." its movie of the month right before the election. At least "Stolen Honor" is based on actual Senate testimony that is documented.

Sinclair Broadcasting is taking a lot of flack from the left and the mainstream media for intending to show Stolen Honor, the documentary on John Kerry. Sinclair Broadcasting has, in fact, invited John Kerry to rebut the charges in the documentary, which are based on Kerry's Senate testimony in the 1970's.

What has gone unnoticed in all of this is another mainstream media outlet peddling Democratic propaganda. TNT, Turner Network Television, is showing "John Q" repeatedly throughout the month of October. "John Q," starring Denzel Washington, is a movie about a father, John Q. Archibald, who takes an emergency room hostage until his son can receive a heart transplant. The lead character's health insurance company refuses to pay for the transplant, necessitating the hostage crisis.

Tom Sanders, writing for the South Floirda Sun-Sentinel said, "The filmmakers have made a blatant piece of hard-core, unapologetic, heavy-handed political propaganda, one that whips viewers into a frenzy. It plays out almost like an overripe two-hour public service message to voters by Hillary Clinton on the need for tax-paid universal health care."

Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press wrote "As an argument for national health care, "John Q." is embarrassingly one-sided; as a movie, it's just one-dimensional. Notable only for Denzel Washington's ability to turn the most unplayable of characters into someone resembling a human being, "John Q." may seek to represent the public interest but really represents the condescending cluelessness some filmmakers have when it comes to dramatizing social issues."

Todd McCarthy, writing for Variety, wrote that "John Q." is "a rare case of blatant political propaganda . . . a shameless manipulative commercial on behalf of national health insurance."

In the course of the movie, Hillary Clinton has a cameo advocating national healthcare and news clips cast aspersions on evil Republicans who refuse to permit national healthcare. Tomorrow night's last debate will feature domestic issues, including concerns over healthcare. No one is screaming foul for TNT making "John Q." its movie of the month right before the election. At least "Stolen Honor" is based on actual Senate testimony that is documented.

I guess its only when Republicans might benefit that the media take notice and cry foul.

Posted by Erick at October 12, 2004 10:06 PM | TrackBack

Polemic arguments are not news, and that's what everything to come from this group so far has been. If George Soros or MoveOn made a film about George Bush's cokehead/AWOL/DUI days in Texas, would you call that news?

As I said, I would have no problem with them paying for their airtime at rates equal to those offered to the Kerry campaign, like all other political groups making political statements on public airwaves do. Equal time is an issue. The distinction between movie theaters showing Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sinclair TV stations showing an hour-long political advertisement is that Sinclair is a licensed broadcaster while movie theaters are not under any such licensing agreement. Those licenses Sinclair has been awarded come from the FCC with the stipulation that they not be used to push one particular political agenda over another. Sinclair is abusing the terms of its broadcasting license by making an in-kind contribution to Bush's campaign. That subverts democracy because they are not offering the same opportunity for a pro-Kerry film, such as "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry."

And save the hot air about Sinclair offering Kerry's campaign the opportunity to appear during the program as an attempt to offer equal time. Is Bush going to get a fair shake out of George Soros? Not so much. The questions would be along the lines of "Do you still beat your wife?"

Posted by: Rusty at October 15, 2004 12:41 PM

Hey Rusty:

Stolen Honor is a documentary that publicizes remarks made by a Naval officer, and how that officer's band of brothers reacted to those remarks. The Naval officer has never recanted, repudiated, or otherwise made statements discounting those remarks. As a matter of fact, the self-confessed baby-killing Naval officer in question is shown uttering those remarks, and verifying that the remarks are true. Isn't this what we call news?

Where is the democracy-subversion?

Posted by: Remy Logan at October 15, 2004 04:11 AM

"Equal time" is, thank goodness, pretty much a dead issue now.

Are we prepared to start demanding that all the theaters that showed "Fahrenheit 9/11" this summer be forced to show "Celsius 41.1?"

Yeah, I thought not.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at October 15, 2004 02:42 AM

It is one-sided political speech about a candidate presently running for office, and that falls under equal time laws. So the makers of Stolen Honor should have to pay for it, like everyone else does. If they were paying for it, I would have no problem with it. You haven't heard me complain about the Swift Boat Veterans' right to free speech, even though I generally think what they've done is reprehensible.

The part that subverts democracy is when someone who has consolidated public airwaves unlawfully uses his position of ownership of those airwaves to impose his agenda on viewers. And, as I said earlier, that goes for Democrats too.

While the movie hasn't come out yet, to say that the Swifties have generally offered an accurate portrayal of Kerry is the same as saying Michael Moore offered an accurate portrayal of Bush. Saying Kerry will have a chance to rebut is weak. That's like saying Bush had a chance to rebut in Fahrenheit 9/11.

The Sinclair position on this is untenable, but I guess that doesn't really matter, does it, since buzz is being built from the absolutely righteous indignation the broadcaster's actions have created.

Posted by: Rusty at October 13, 2004 10:25 AM

Funny, I thought limiting political speech during election years is "democracy-subverting stuff."

Posted by: Christopher Cross at October 13, 2004 01:07 AM

Rusty... From what I have heard, Stolen Honor, reports the effects of JF Kerry's 1971 testimony. It is simply a matter of fact.

I assume the only tigger for federal equal time would be if the Bush campaign were to demand equal time for his campaign, just as a broadcast of a Schwarzenegger movie would have tiggered equal time for Cruz Bustamante last year.

The Kerry documentary is neither a campaign commercial nor campaign propaganda.

I have heard that Sinclair will allow time for the point of view of the Kerry camp, that his 1971 slander did not affect the treatment of POW's, etc.

Posted by: Mark Kilmer at October 12, 2004 10:48 PM

The distinction is John Q. doesn't attack a specific candidate running for office in this election, while Stolen Honor does. That's the difference between violating equal time laws and not. This Sinclair business should scare the piss out of everyone. It validates all fears of the negative effects of media consolidation. This is democracy-subverting stuff. No one, regardless of ideological slant, should have that much access to public airwaves to push their own agenda. That goes for Democrats too.

Posted by: Rusty at October 12, 2004 10:27 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?