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Thursday, May 6, 2004 02:57 pm

quick takes 5-6-04

"OBVIOUSLY, I'M BIASED"

Sinclair Broadcast Group, in a move that captured national headlines, pre-empted last Friday's broadcast of Nightline on its eight ABC Television affiliates. The reason? Anchor Ted Koppel planned to read the names of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq, and that was deemed unpatriotic.

On Sunday, Sinclair's Springfield station, WICS-TV (Channel 20), ran a news story about the POW-MIA remembrance ceremony at Oak Ridge Cemetery. Veterans read the names of the missing. The station didn't describe the vigil as unpatriotic.

Obviously, Vietnam is yesterday's news. The occupation of Iraq, and the killing, will be in the headlines for some time to come.

In an effort to explain the company's reasoning for blacking out Koppel, vice president for corporate affairs Mark Hyman told the Baltimore Sun that "standing on principle can sometimes be a lonely endeavor."

"Obviously, I'm biased about this. This is my fiber," said Hyman, the editorialist featured in Sinclair's nightly "The Point" segment.

Obviously.

Sinclair corporate executives are significant campaign contributors to President George W. Bush and his allies. And Hyman, a former government intelligence agent, is a strong supporter of the president's war policy. Back in February, Hyman did a series of reports from Iraq designed to show the "positive, untold stories" about the occupation that the liberal media supposedly weren't sharing with the public. That was 200 deaths ago.

Not so long ago, liberals were the ones complaining about Koppel. A survey of Nightline guests by the liberal organization Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting concluded that the show was largely a vehicle for conservative white men -- and that it ignored labor and consumer advocates, as well as critics of U.S. foreign policy.

Times have changed.

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