Monday, July 25, 2005

Story=Bad? Story ABOUT Bad Story=A-OK! 

This story about a story about a story is itself a bit old (it ran on Saturday I think) and the ruling itself is about a little incident so far back that it seems downright Jurassic. Before getting any more meta-storical here, let's look at the item:

(via Atlanta J-C) (registration, sorry):
BALTIMORE — Sinclair Broadcasting did not violate federal election law by running portions of a documentary critical of John Kerry's Vietnam-era anti-war activities, the Federal Elections Commission announced Friday.

Sinclair... was criticized for what the Democratic National Committee said was a plan to order its stations to show the documentary, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 2 presidential election.

The DNC filed the FEC complaint on Oct. 12,
contending that showing the film would be an illegal in-kind contribution to President Bush's campaign. Kerry's campaign asked that each station carrying the program give a similar amount of time to Kerry supporters.

After shareholders complained such a broadcast could hurt their investment in the company,
A bit of selective memory here, eh? The way I remember events, we here in the blogosphere raised unholy hell about this, and it was only then that "stockholders complained" blah blah blah. Anyway....
Sinclair announced that only segments of the documentary would be shown during a program examining the use of such documentaries to influence elections. The program aired Oct. 22 on 40 Sinclair stations.
Sigh. See headline above.

Now we get to what seems to me to be an oddly buried item--the FEC's rationale for the above decision:

The FEC said the commission's media exemption applied in the case.

Commissioner Ellen Weintraub wrote in a statement about her decision on the case that it was "important to emphasize that the press exemption shields press entities from investigations into alleged coordination."

"This agency cannot and should not attempt to arbitrate claims of media bias or breaches of journalistic ethics," Weintraub said.
In fact the longer I look at it the odder Weintraub's first comment is. There is a "press exemption" which allows "press entities" to "coordinate" with...uh, who exactly? Might one presuppose, given that one of the accusations was that Sinclair was, if not "coordinating," at least "giving a big fat sloppy blowjob" to George W. Bush and the RNC in general by demonizing his opponent, they mean "coordinating with one candidate in an election without any trace of balance or fairness"?

Sure sounds like it to me. I must need another seminar on blogger ethics.

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