Update 10/18 -
1: A one click e-mail to Sinclair advertisers, from grassroots nation.com
2: From Lawrence Lessig's blog: An in-depth analysis of the obligations of broadcasters, & the difference between network TV & other media invoking the 1st amendment:
In the last week, the stock price of the Sinclair Group has fallen by 10%. The company has lost $60,000,000 in market cap. Josh Marshall has a great clip from a Lehman Brothers research memo attacking the decision from a business perspective.
This drop is no doubt in part a calculation about how Sinclair will fair if the election goes for Kerry. But in part it may also be the product of a large citizen reaction to this corporate partisanship. Among the groups creating pressure on the company are:
The First Amendment does not mean people have to like you for what you say. Nor does it protect you if people decide not to buy your product because of what you say, or advertise on your network, because of what you say. All it means is that the government can’t punish you for what you say (or at least, that’s at least what it should mean, “indecency” notwithstanding).
But “free speech” is more than what the First Amendment says. And I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t confess a bit of anxiety at all this “punishing” for what people — including corporations — say. The most that can be said in its defense is, I should think, this: In a world where “mainstream” broadcasters such as CBS are too timid to broadcast a plainly relevant story about war “too close” to an election, or where NBC refuses to license clips from “Meet the Press” because it wants to stay “neutral” in a political debate, the action by a concentrated, powerful, rightwing network to use its power to direct the election is bad. If we could break up the government supported monopolies of broadcasters, and change the culture among broadcasters generally, I’d have no problem with it. But now, in this culture, in an election this close, the decision stinks. And I for one won’t shed any tears for the “punishment” Sinclair receives from the market, or even the plaintiffs’ bar.