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A message from "Noah T. Winer, MoveOn.org"

Tonight, ABC's Nightline is doing something beautiful and courageous. The entire show will consist of a reading of the names of each soldier who has fallen in Iraq, while his or her photograph shows on the screen.

But ABC affiliate stations around the country will be prohibited from airing the special. That's because they're owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a company whose executives have given tens of thousands to Republicans and whose right-wing allies tout it as "the next Fox." [1]

In a statement released earlier this week, the company said that to honor the men and women who died in this way would be a political act that is "contrary to the public interest." Censoring images of the fallen serves the right-wing ideologues who pushed the war in Iraq, but it certainly doesn't serve our country to hide those who were killed.

In order to highlight this censorship and let other media outlets know that it's not OK, we're asking you to write a letter to the editor of your local paper. It doesn't actually take very long -- you can do it in ten minutes or less.

We've added some tips and talking points below. Once you've written, please let us know at:

http://www.moveon.org/sinclair.html?id=2761-1446529-EtygGahP3iCZABn6jHZXNg

Military families have called on Sinclair to air the special tonight. Jane Bright of Military Families Speak Out is the mother of Sgt. Evan Ashcraft, who died July 24, 2003, near Mosul, Iraq. She said: "The Sinclair Broadcast Group is trying to undermine the lives of our soldiers killed in Iraq. By censoring Nightline they want to hide the toll the war on Iraq is having on thousands of soldiers and their families, like mine." [2]

According to ABC News, "The Nightline broadcast is an expression of respect which simply seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country."

Yet Sinclair refuses to distinguish between public mourning and a statement against the war: "Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq." [3]

Take a few minutes to write a letter to the editor to make sure the word gets out. Tips and talking points are below.

Nightline is also certain to get lots of nasty right-wing hate mail about this broadcast. Show them the overwhelming support for this sort of recognition of the young men and women killed in Iraq with a quick note at:

http://www.moveon.org/r?494

Finally, you can call on Sinclair to honor our troops and run the Nightline special at:

David D. Smith, CEO
Sinclair Broadcast Group
(410) 568-1500 x1504

After you take action, let us know at:

http://www.moveon.org/sinclair.html?id=2761-1446529-EtygGahP3iCZABn6jHZXNg

Then tune in to ABC tonight to see Nightline's special tribute to our lost servicemen and women.

Sincerely,
- Carrie, Joan, Noah, Peter, and Wes
The MoveOn.org Team
Friday, April 30th, 2004

Sources:
[1] http://freepress.net/news/article.php?id=3334
[2] http://www.mfso.org/
[3] http://poynter.org/forum/?id=misc

---

RESOURCES FOR LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

I. Tips

II. Talking Points

I. Tips on how to get your letter published:

- Your own words, written from the heart, are always best.

- Brevity is the soul of wit.

- The key to publication is to pounce on something specific you've seen in the newspaper -- anything that seems related to you.

- Be sure to include your name and address, and especially your phone number when submitting your letter. Editors need to call you to verify authorship before they can print your letter. They don't print your phone number.

- Your newspaper's letters page should give you an email address or fax number to use, or you can try this website:

http://congress.org/congressorg/dbq/media/

- Please let us know when you've sent your letter by going to:

http://www.moveon.org/sinclair.html?id=2761-1446529-EtygGahP3iCZABn6jHZXNg


II. Talking points

* According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, Sinclair executives gave $136,000 to Republicans and the Bush administration since 2000. It's clear that their partisan bias is outweighing their responsibility to the public.

* Sinclair is essentially saying that any public recognition of the fallen soldiers is a political act against the war in Iraq. That trivializes the sacrifices these men and women made for us. Honoring the dead is not a partisan act.

* In a news environment often focused on celebrity and pop culture, Nightline's willingness to take time out of their usual schedule to pay tribute to the dead is a great service. Civic-minded journalism like this should be encouraged, not censored.

Comments

Yes, I received this from MoveOn as well and I just finished sending my letter to our local paper! Every day I am more ashamed and appalled by our so-called government. I swear its almost worse now than when Nixon was in office and I was protesting the war in Vietnam!

McCain Rebukes Sinclair Decision

http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/TV/04/30/abc.nightline/index.html

(CNN) -- The decision of Sinclair Broadcast Group, which ordered its seven ABC stations not to broadcast Friday's "Nightline," has received criticism from U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona).

Friday's show will air the names and photographs of the more than 500 U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war.

"Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces," McCain, a Vietnam veteran, wrote in a letter to David Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group. "It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves."