More Enrons, Anyone?

To borrow a phrase from Senator McCain himself (no hard thing to do, as he appears in the news constantly, on a seemingly limitless variety of topics), I found Senator McCain’s letter to the Sinclair Broadcast Group “deeply offensive.”

I believe reasonable, patriotic people can differ about the degree to which the April 30 Nightline is appropriate, whether it was intended or will be perceived as a statement against the war, and/or whether the fact that it was scheduled for the first day of sweeps week instead of Memorial Day was influenced by a desire for ratings.

But the Senator doesn’t appear to believe that reasonable people can disagree on this matter. He told Sinclair in his letter that “there is no valid reason” for Sinclair to “shirk its responsibility” by not broadcasting Nightline tonight.

First, the “no valid reason” comment is a gratuitous insult to everyone with concerns about the broadcast. Clearly, a lot of people believe there are valid reasons for concern. McCain dismisses them all. He doesn’t bother to discuss any of the concerns; he simply declares them invalid. Coincidentally — or not — that’s the same kind of condescending attitude for which Ted Koppel is known. It is insulting to be talked down to, regardless of who is doing it.

Second, Sinclair does not have a “responsibility” to broadcast whatever Ted Koppel wants them to broadcast. Because Sinclair believes the broadcast is unpatriotic, and our nation is at war, one can reasonably take the position that it would have been “irresponsible” for Sinclair to run it — even if every other adult in America thought the broadcast was as American as apple pie. McCain essentially is saying that Sinclair executives have a responsibility to do something it believes is wrong.

It is an interesting world when a U.S. Senator lectures business executives for following their consciences.

(Sinclair’s response to McCain is worth reading. It’s on the main page of their website right now; probably temporarily.)

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