Media, Politics, and Fairness

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photoThe Sinclair Broadcast Group owns 62 stations in 11 of 17 swing U.S. states. Sinclair was set to preempt regular programming and air a documentary highly critical of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry the week before Election Day. A Sinclair reporter voiced his concerns about the fairness of the documentary's broadcast to the Baltimore Sun newspaper and was promptly terminated by the media conglomerate.

Though Sinclair has now decided to broadcast only parts of the documentary, the media conglomerate is nonetheless taking a financial and public relations beating. Supporters of Sinclair say it has the right to do as it sees fit as holder of the broadcast licenses. Critics argue that because ownership caps have been lifted, broadcasters have an even more pronounced responsibility to maintain balance in political coverage.

Hear from the reporter who was fired by Sinclair for voicing his concerns and from a Sinclair senior executive who continues to defend the company's decision to air the anti-Kerry documentary and terminate the reporter.


David Folkenflik, media reporter for the Baltimore Sun

Jonathan Leiberman, reporter fired by Sinclair Broadcasting after voicing concerns about balance and fairness

Reed Hundt, former chairman for the FCC

Jesse Walker, associate editor and columnist at Reason Magazine, a libertarian monthly, and author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America.

This program aired on October 21, 2004.


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