Partial 'Honor'?

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," October 21, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: In the past week, Sinclair stock has been down a lot, then up a lot. It finished with a gain of 2 percent on the entire week, but it's been volatile. Sinclair says that it now plans to run only portions of the John Kerry documentary "Stolen Honor" and it's tonight as part of an hour-long special.

With us now is Mark Hyman, the vice president of Sinclair Broadcast Group's corporate relations. Sir, good to have you.

MARK HYMAN, VP, SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP (SBGI): Neil, it's my pleasure to be here.

CAVUTO: Did something change? This was supposed to air the night before the election, all of your stations were going to do it in its entirety, or so I was told. This seems to be a middle ground, or what?

HYMAN: No. Actually, it was inaccurate reporting right from the get-go. We had never planned on airing it the night before election. That was just bad, bad reporting. There wasn't a single journalist who put out a store who spoke with us that got an informed account of what actually we were going to put out. You may recall originally it was The Los Angeles Times press report that had many of the facts wrong, and everybody kind of picked up on that and ran without confirming what the real story was going to be.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you something, Mark. We were getting reports that advertisers were pulling out, and that was concerning your company. In Minneapolis, in Portland, Maine, in Madison, Wisconsin, Springfield, Illinois and maybe other places I'm not aware of. Did that affect your decision at all?

HYMAN: The decision to air the documentary? Well, we stood firm on doing this one-hour special right from the get-go. We have never changed from that.

The one thing that has changed is that once we became part of the story, we said it's important for us to now turn the camera on us, because we are now part of the story, and that's how we're going to frame this entire special. So we're looking at not only the allegations that were surfaced in this documentary and exploring the whole issue of documentaries in general and how they affect the elections, but then what about the role of the media? So we thought it was absolutely critical that we turn the camera on ourselves. So that portion of the documentary — or I should say that portion of the special — has changed.

CAVUTO: Mark, would you say you and your colleagues, particularly your chairman, are conservative?

HYMAN: I can answer for myself. I happen to be a conservative. I'm a conservative commentator on our TV stations. I make no bones about that, I'm very open about it. The rest of my colleagues, I can tell you, I probably have more Kerry-Edwards bumper stickers in our parking lot than Bush-Cheney.

CAVUTO: But do you understand how some people could misconstrue your own political position and your boss' political position and seeing it as an agenda?

HYMAN: I'm not sure that is necessarily true. I believe the president and chief operating officer of News Corporation, your parent company, is a huge John Kerry supporter. [News Corp COO] Mitch Stern has held several fund-raisers for him. So to suggest that the guy at the top drives the editorial policy we know, well, really isn't true.

CAVUTO: Well, that's a good point. The reason why I mention is, remember, there was the fuss some months back when "Nightline" aired the Iraq special on the casualties and those who lost their lives in Iraq, and you, or some of your stations, I believe, at the time did not air that. I am wondering whether there was a reason for that, beyond the fact that it might have looked poorly on the administration?

HYMAN: Well, certainly if we wanted to hide this fact from the people, we could have just simply preempted that program and done nothing about it. That originally came about based on comments made on "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos who addressed that this program was going to air, coincident with the anniversary of the mission accomplished speech. That raised concerns for us, and we contacted ABC News, and asked them, what are your plans with this particular program? If it's commentary, fine. Tell people it's commentary. If you want to run it on the anniversary of the war, March 19th, that makes sense. If you want to run it on Memorial Day, that makes sense. And we'll support you.

CAVUTO: Mark, thank you very much. Appreciate your coming here.

HYMAN: My pleasure, Neil.

CAVUTO: Mark Hyman of Sinclair.

All right, now joining me from the Kerry side, Howard Wolfson. Howard is a former Hillary Clinton campaign manager and a senior adviser to the DNC. I don't know how much of that you heard, Howard, what did you think?

HOWARD WOLFSON, DNC SR. ADVISER: Heard it all. It was interesting to hear Mr. Hyman say that Sinclair was going to be turning the cameras on itself. I wonder if they are going to be interviewing their lead Washington reporter, who spoke out against this biased attempt by Sinclair to influence the election, and was subsequently fired. So I wonder if that gentleman is going to be interviewed as part of the documentary this evening.

CAVUTO: But Howard, would you argue there are some legitimate points being raised in this documentary, that some people can respectfully disagree with you on?

WOLFSON: Oh, I think that there is always room in America for respectful discussion and disagreement on the issues. Our concern here all along was that Sinclair planned at the beginning of this process, despite what Mr. Hyman says now, to run a 45-minute documentary that was essentially an anti-Kerry political commercial. One-sided, inaccurate, no attempt at journalistic objectivity. I'm on the fair and balanced network right now, you talk about being fair and balanced, because that is what the American viewers expect from TV news. This was not an effort to be fair and balanced. It was an effort to smear John Kerry in a one-sided and biased fashion, run by a network that chief executives have given over $100,000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign.

CAVUTO: So you think it was all rigged?

WOLFSON: It was absolutely rigged.


WOLFSON: I've seen the documentary, and there is absolutely no pretense of objectivity.

CAVUTO: Well, people can look at "Fahrenheit 9/11" and say the same thing. But your points are well taken, Howard. I wish we had more time. Thank you very much.

WOLFSON: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Howard Wolfson.

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