Every day, Sinclair Broadcast Group broadcasts "The Point," a one-minute conservative commentary by Sinclair vice president Mark Hyman, on the 62 TV stations Sinclair owns or operates. "The Point" contains a steady stream of one-sided anti-progressive and pro-Bush rhetoric that is broadcast without a progressive counterpoint.
Media Matters for America examined all segments of "The Point" that have aired since the November 2 presidential election. Hyman repeatedly attacked Senator John Kerry, former President Bill Clinton and his administration, and other prominent Democrats and progressives. Hyman charged liberal media bias and made repeated references to "The Angry Left." Hyman's commentaries also served to promote President George W. Bush and his policies and proposals with little critique. And several contained misleading claims.
On eight occasions, Hyman attacked Democrats, including ...
Prior to the November 2 presidential election, Hyman repeatedly attacked Kerry in "The Point," as Media Matters documented (here, here, and here). Despite the fact that the presidential campaign is over and President Bush won, Hyman has continued to attack Kerry.
On November 16, Hyman quoted an anonymous "senior Bush-Cheney campaign official" who called Kerry "arrogant" and claimed "that there were very few principles on which Kerry would take a stand" to support Hyman's claim that Kerry was a weak candidate.
On November 12, Hyman defended Ken Cordier, a member of the anti-Kerry group Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, against criticism that he gave a purportedly partisan talk to a group of federal employees prior to the election (partisan political activity by federal employees is regulated by the Hatch Act). As Media Matters has noted, Cordier appeared in Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (now Swift Vets and POWs for Truth) ads as well as the anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, both of which falsely attacked Kerry. Cordier represented one of many ties between the anti-Kerry group and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, having served as a member of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign's National Veterans Steering Committee, an appointee to a Bush administration advisory committee, and the vice chair of Veterans for Bush-Cheney '00. Controversy over Cordier's dual role with the campaign and Swift Boat Vets led to his resignation from the Bush campaign.
On November 15, Hyman pointed out that "Bill Clinton never once broke the 50 percent barrier in his two elections, garnering only 43 percent in 1992 and 49 percent in '96 and losing control of both Houses of Congress along the way" to support claims of a Bush "mandate," adding: "Yet, in their [Democrats'] eyes, Bubba had a mandate." But Hyman's statement was misleading because the 1992 and 1996 elections were three-way races that included H. Ross Perot, who received a substantial percentage of the vote -- 18.9 percent of the electorate in 1992 as an independent candidate and 8.4 percent in 1996 as the Reform Party nominee. Further, Clinton's margin of victory in both 1992 and 1996 was larger than that of George W. Bush in 2004. In 1992, Clinton won by a margin of 5.8 million votes over Republican George H.W. Bush despite the 19.7 million votes Perot received. In 1996, Clinton won by 8.2 million votes over Republican Bob Dole, while Perot received 8.1 million votes. In 2004, George W. Bush won by 3.5 million votes.
On November 15, Hyman echoed Senator-elect John Thune's (R-SD) attacks on Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), whom Thune defeated in the 2004 South Dakota Senate race. Hyman referred to Daschle as "Washington's top Democrat and Obstructionist-in-Chief" who "now has weekends and weekdays free." As CNN.com noted on November 3, "Thune has defeated Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle after portraying the incumbent as an obstructionist who was out of touch with South Dakota voters."
Hyman smeared financier and philanthropist George Soros on November 9, accusing him of having "helped [to] shut down the political speech of labor unions and corporations representing the views of millions of Americans" by supporting the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which Hyman referred to as "McCain-Feingold-Soros legislation." Hyman stated: "The 240 Representatives and 60 Senators who voted for its passage are officially the chumps of billionaire currency trader George Soros. ... He funneled millions of dollars into Public Campaign, Democracy 21 and other groups in order to pass legislation severely restricting political speech."
On three occasions, Hyman attacked "the Left" and "the Angry Left":
Hyman claimed on November 15 that the Democratic Party is in "the clutches of the Angry Left" and that "Mainstream America will not vote for a [Democratic] party run by Hollywood liberals, greedy trial lawyers and clueless academia." Hyman also claimed that "The Angry Left and its media partners are in total denial" about the results of the November federal election that showed that "voters sent a message" in support of Bush and Congressional Republicans. Hyman stated, "Despite Democratic losses, the Angry Left argues that it is Bush and not the Democrats who must compromise."
On November 18, Hyman claimed that "Religion, particularly Christianity, has been under attack by the left for several years. And the presidential election results have already led to increased attacks." As Media Matters has documented, the media has given conservative religious leaders a disproportionate voice since the November 2 election. In many cases, conservative religious leaders have used these media appearances to attack Democrats and progressives (see here, here, here, and here).
Hyman said on November 23 that "The Angry Left is still steaming over the presidential election results." He went on to state that "they ridicule what red-staters see as moral values and in their arrogant and superior way, the Angry Left substitute their own topics they claim to represent real moral values: unjust war, tax relief and indifference to the environment." As Media Matters has noted, MSNBC host Deborah Norville pointed out on the November 8 edition of Deborah Norville Tonight that on three of the issues generally grouped under the "moral values" category -- abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research -- Democrats are actually more aligned with the American public than Republicans are.
On three occasions, Hyman complained of liberal media bias:
On November 8, Hyman said that a recent study showed that "A record breaking 77% of the networks' stories on Kerry were positive during the month of October, constituting the three networks' own 'October surprise'" benefiting Kerry. Hyman went on to state: "Observing the national news networks report on this year's presidential race is like watching a set of referees tackling the visiting team in a football game. They've definitely chosen sides." As Media Matters has noted, the study Hyman cites, by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University, used questionable methodology.
On November 12, Hyman commented on ABC News President David Westin's statement warning against too much opinion in news programs. Westin said, "The more time we express our opinions, the less time we have to talk about the facts." Hyman asserted that "Westin may have watched a few episodes of ABC World News Tonight or Nightline to come to the conclusion that anchors often replace facts with their own political views." In April, Sinclair forbade its ABC affiliate stations to air a broadcast of Nightline that showed the names and photographs of the 700 American soldiers who had died in Iraq up to that point. In a statement explaining its decision, Sinclair declared: "We do not believe political statements should be disguised as news content."
Hyman referred to media outlets including the Philadelphia Daily News and the online opinion site Slate.com as "The Angry Left's media partners" on November 15.
On five occasions, Hyman stated support for Bush and/or Bush policy proposals:
On November 15, Hyman mocked progressives who questioned claims that the November 2 election constituted a Bush mandate. Hyman stated: "Campaign for America's Future is seemingly ignorant that an election had even taken place. It issued a post-election press release based on a poll of 2,000 announcing 'NEW POLL: NO MANDATE FOR BUSH.' Just two days prior a nationwide poll of 114 million voters told a different story." As Media Matters has documented, Bush's claims of a mandate are weak in the context of previous victorious presidential candidates' election totals. Data from Campaign for America's Future's post-election poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, found that a "majority of voters who returned President Bush to office believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Kerry adviser and Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg said that Bush succeeded in making the election about something other than his performance, and won the battle over which issues drove voters' choices."
Hyman hyped Bush's reelection by stating on November 16, "Election Day was two weeks ago and no presidential candidate in history had received as many votes as did George W. Bush. More than 59 million voters sent the Texan back to Washington for a second term." Hyman did not mention that the candidate who received the second-highest number of votes in history was Kerry. Former Vice President Al Gore received the third highest vote total in history, while President Bush won the fourth highest total in 2000.
On November 21, Hyman expressed support for Bush administration proposals to "overhaul our nation's tax code".
On November 24, Hyman claimed that "placing caps on medical malpractice damages" would result in significant savings for health care consumers. But as Media Matters has noted, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has documented the minimal impact that increases in medical malpractice insurance premiums have on overall health care costs. The 2004 CBO report concluded that capping awards at $250,000 for non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits "would basically save only 0.4 percent of the amount that's spent now" on health care. According to the report: "[M]alpractice costs amounted to an estimated $24 billion in 2002, but that figure represents less than 2 percent of overall health care spending. Thus, even a reduction of 25 percent to 30 percent in malpractice costs would lower health care costs by only about 0.4 percent to 0.5 percent, and the likely effect on health insurance premiums would be comparably small." Further, as FactCheck.org has noted, claims that "defensive medicine" drives up medical costs -- a principal Bush administration argument for tort reform -- have been dismissed as inconclusive by the General Accounting Office (GAO) and the CBO. The CBO report went further, declaring that there is "no evidence that restrictions on tort liability reduce medical spending."
On November 30, Hyman continued to hype Bush's reelection, referring to the November 2 results as "George Bush's convincing reelection."
On just two occasions, Hyman offered mild criticism of Bush:
On November 9, Hyman noted that "The Point was deeply opposed to McCain-Feingold and to President Bush signing it into law." As noted above, Hyman has also stridently attacked progressive financier George Soros for supporting the campaign finance reform legislation.
On November 22, Hyman stated that Bush shares in the blame for the federal government's misspending and overspending:
While Congress bears the bulk of the blame it is not alone in sharing responsibility for misspending taxpayer dollars. The Bush Administration - like all presidential administrations before it - sends a proposed budget to Congress each January. Government grew faster under the Bush administration than it had in the prior decade. Although 9/11 costs and post-9/11 defense investments played a large part in this spending spree, spending in other areas jumped a whopping 11 percent from 2001 to 2003. This is not a good trend and one this president should change.
In October, when Sinclair intended to air the distortion-filled anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, Hyman made numerous television appearances defending the company's plan. Sinclair ultimately caved to a massive grassroots advertiser boycott effort, threatened shareholder litigation, and numerous other actions (including some led by Media Matters), instead presenting an hour-long program on 40 of its stations, titled A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media. The program used only five minutes of footage from Stolen Honor; it included more than 30 minutes focusing on Kerry's Vietnam War record, during which Kerry attackers and the program's host made numerous false statements about Kerry's record, followed by less than four minutes purporting to examine President George W. Bush's service during the Vietnam era.
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