Censorship American Style

David Farber writes to the Interesting People list,

I gather that there is a report that Sinclair Broadcast ordered its ABC affiliates to preempt tomorrow's broadcast of Nightline which will air the names and photos of U.S. military personnel who have died in combat in Iraq, saying the move is politically motivated designed to undermine the efforts of the US in Iraq.

Sinclair owns 62 US TV stations.

And so there is.

Is it legal? Probably — we impose only the loosest public interest requirements on the beneficiaries of the publicly created broadcast oligopoly, and what little I know of broadcast law this doesn't come close to violating it.

Is it in good taste? I think reasonable people might differ about the good taste involved in refusing to broadcast the show, especially if those people didn't see it as honoring the dead. (Not my view at all, but people differ.) I do think that accusing ABC (of all bodies!) of what amounts to treason (in effect the old accusing them of giving aid and comfort to the enemy) is not only not in good taste, but contemptible.

Are we not allowed to talk about the costs of this war project? Especially as the goals diminish from a free and democratic Middle East, to a free Iraq, to less violence, to getting out without humiliation?

Apparently not on Sinclair stations.

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