by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

I just heard some news that hardly seems fair. President George W. Bush is going to get slammed in a new “documentary” that is little more than a propaganda film.

Apparently, this documentary takes a one-sided view of his National Guard service and his later years as a party boy. There are “interviews” — if you can call them that — with angry National Guardsmen who never saw him show up for duty. There are “interviews” with people who claim they drank and did cocaine with him.

The piece is so clearly one-sided, it doesn’t even try to talk to anyone who doesn’t have a beef with Bush.

And here’s the worst part. This one-sided bashing of our president is going to run on network TV — in prime time! — in nearly 25 percent of the nation’s households. It will pre-empt shows like “Joey” and “Lost” and “My Wife and Kids” and “ER.” There won’t even be any commercials!

Oh. And one more worst part. This ham-handed insult airs next week, before the election, in time to poison the voters’ minds. On public airwaves!

Doesn’t this make you furious, the way these liberals try to take down George W. Bush?

The power of television

Well, you should be furious. But I lied. There is no documentary about the president. The documentary is about Sen. John Kerry. And instead of National Guard service, it’s about Vietnam. But the rest, sadly, is pretty accurate. More than 60 TV stations — one in Flint, many in swing states such as Ohio — will be forced to air this 42-minute, commercial-free piece of near-propaganda in prime time. No complaining. You just do it.

So why did I lie? Because your outrage shouldn’t depend on your political party. When a huge company — in this case Sinclair Broadcast Group — gets to order its TV stations to air political diatribes in prime time, “conservative” or “liberal” is the least of our worries.

Let’s get a few facts straight. Sinclair is a big company. It gives lots of money to politicians, almost exclusively Republicans. It ordered its stations not to run the “Nightline” program that listed the names of the dead American soldiers in Iraq. One of its top executives also doubles as a conservative commentator. It has a sad record of using its public broadcasting license — yes, Americans, not conglomerates, still own the airwaves — to regularly promote Republican causes.

Another fact. This documentary is not “news.” That is the defense used by Sinclair and its supporters. But it is simply a lie. The narrator and producer of this film works in a homeland security service. He’s on leave from his job. There are 17 men interviewed in this piece, all of one opinion. There is no balance. No fairness. No attempt at such.

Propaganda is propaganda

Now some people say, “This just balances out Dan Rather.” Sorry, but Rather works for a news organization. Regardless of his point of view — or that of Fox, ABC or NBC anchors — news programs employ journalistic standards (that’s why Rather apologized) and they air nightly, bringing you a wealth of information.

That is hardly the same as thrashing the prime-time lineup and ordering your stations to air a one-sided documentary, commercial free.

Imagine the end game of this. A huge company like Microsoft buys 100 TV stations. Then, during election time, it airs slanted critiques of any politician who dares to support legislation Microsoft doesn’t like. You are told you’re watching “news.” In truth, it’s closer to brainwashing.

Pretty soon, a bigger company than Microsoft buys 200 stations, and orders them to air “documentaries” with its point of view.

You see where this is going.

Folks, this is not about “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which you had to pay to see in a movie theater. This is about free, network television and its abuse by a rich, brazen company.

It’s funny. CBS was going to air a TV movie about the Reagans, and it was hounded off the air — after critics insisted it was an unflattering portrait. Where are those critics now? After all, you can’t be against propaganda and be for it, too.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or”


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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