Atrios and Steve Soto at the Left Coaster and Chicago Progressive at the Daily Kos are recommending ways to put pressure on Sinclair and its TV stations in response to the plan to broadcast an anti-Kerry documentary next week.
I'm certainly in favor of angry letters and reminding these guys that we're free to take our TV watching elsewhere. But I wonder if there's really a chance we can stop the airing of the movie -- the Michael Powell FCC certainly isn't going to intercede on our behalf, and Sinclair has obviously made a corporate decision that being on Bush's good side is the best choice for the bottom line. And I have mixed feelings -- part of me wants to stop the broadcast, a 90-minute in-kind contribution to the Bush campaign disguised as news, but I wonder if stopping it, or trying to, would create the impression that (a) we're the side that silences people and/or (b) we're afraid that Kerry can't win if the movie is seen.
Whatever we do about Sinclair, I think we ought to be looking at the movie, the filmmaker, and the people behind the film.
I've told you that the filmmaker has been a journalistic whore for the Moonies, that he's a friend and sometime employee of Tom Ridge, and that the film can be tied directly to the Swift boat liars. But look at what seems to be the film's most damning charge -- that Kerry's words led directly to the torture of POWs. I alluded to this over the weekend, but in this Hardball transcript Phil Butler -- a POW for eight years -- says it's a crock:
PHIL BUTLER, FORMER PRISONER OF WAR: Yes. I was captured on April the 20th of 1965 and released on February the 12th of 1973, just a little short of eight years. I‘m the eighth longest-held prisoner of war in Vietnam. And I was in Camp Unity, which was the camp that was mentioned earlier, I think, after the San The raid, from November the 20th of 1970 to May the 25th of 1972. During that time, I lived in room 2 of that camp with Ken Cordier (ph). And next to me in room 3 were Paul Galante and Jim Warner for a while, and also, Bud Day (ph) and Robert Shoemaker (ph) were in room seven of that camp.
And I can assure you that in Camp Unity -- there were several hundred of us there --during all that time period, from 1970 up through May of 1972, we absolutely never heard of John Kerry. And if John Kerry's name was used or mentioned in other camps, I can assure you that, certainly, in my opinion, John Kerry has absolutely no connection whatsoever either with anybody being tortured or with prolonging the war in any way, shape or form.
[CHRIS] MATTHEWS: Let me ask you generically, Phil, did you ever experience as a POW the kind of threats that Mr. Warner suffered, where they said to you, We're going to try some of you guys after this war is over, we're going to execute some of you guys after this war, and then show that kind of material, show that kind of propaganda, which for them was propaganda, testimony from Jane Fonda or anybody in the anti-war movement? Was anything like that ever done to you?
BUTLER: No. They never really used anybody in the anti-war movement to torture me. I was tortured numerous times between 1965 and 1969, for which I received Purple Hearts and -- real Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars, and so on and so forth. But other POWs have, as well...
MATTHEWS: From the other POWs, sir, did you ever hear stories of them being told that testimony by people like John Kerry back home was threatening them or could be used against them in future war criminal trials?
BUTLER: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I did not know the name John Kerry until quite a while after I came home.
This is what we need to get out.
Also this, from an unfortunately muddled news story that preceded the Hardball conversation:
...[REPORTER DAVID] SHUSTER: ... Kerry's testimony from 30 years ago is edited, making it seem he claimed to have witnessed heads and arms being cut off by U.S. soldiers, when, in fact, he always attributed those dramatic allegations to others.
As for the news conference, former senator Bob Dole was originally slated to join the veterans at the unveiling of the film, but he didn't appear. Sources close to Dole say he changed his mind after learning the film was not just a project to praise former POWs but also a sharp attack on John Kerry. And the Reserve Officers Association, which rented out the room, issued a statement saying their hospitality was not an endorsement of the film.
We need to talk about deceptive editing. We need to talk about why Dole and the Reserve Officers Association distanced themselves from the film. People who know the subject need to write about the movie -- the DVD is readily available -- and, if appropriate, pick it apart. If, as seems likely, this is a dishonest work, let's discredit it before it ever airs.