National boycott of Sinclair Broadcasting targets Simpson

by Kate Paulman

Simpson College has been put on a national boycott list due toits advertisements on KDSM, the Sinclair Broadcasting Group-ownedFox affiliate in Des Moines.

The boycott list is made up of national and local groups thatadvertise on all Sinclair-owned stations. A boycott Web site, calls for protestors to send letters or e-mailsto advertisers, asking them to pull their ads.

“Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal,” a documentary thatpurportedly smeared John Kerry, was supposedly going to air onSinclair’s stations last Friday. Instead, “A POW Story: Politics,Pressure and the Media” was shown. The presumed partisan nature ofthe original documentary was the catalyst for the boycott list.

According to a press release from Sinclair, “A POW Story”included all viewpoints and was made in cooperation with GeorgeButler, a close friend of Kerry’s.

Simpson’s public relations department was inundated with e-mailsregarding the boycott last week.

“First I had five, then 10, and then 20,” said Michael Adams,assistant vice president and director of public relations. “Theletter is usually the same, but some people add their own personaltwist.”

Before Adams knew it, the trickle of e-mails had mushroomed to1,500 e-mails last Wednesday alone. Despite the massive response,Simpson did not pull its advertising from KDSM.

“From an institutional perspective, we put together a marketingplan … and our whole idea behind that is to inform people aboutSimpson,” Adams said. “Our goal is to continue to help others learnabout us.”

Pulling the advertisements would put Simpson in a difficultposition, Adams said.

“Simpson’s institutional perspective is non-partisan,” Adamssaid. “If every time a group advocated a boycott – regardless ofwhatever political perspective they’re coming from – we respondedto it willy-nilly, Simpson would be put in an awkward position.We’d be constantly in the wind depending on political whims.”

Adams said that if the Federal Communications Commission ruledthat Sinclair’s broadcast of either documentary was illegal,Simpson would pull its advertisements.

“Individuals within Simpson can have their own personalopinions, but when it comes to Simpson as an institution, thestance is non-partisan,” Adams said.

Simpson’s advertisements did not appear during the program.

As of last Sunday, 110 advertisers had pulled commercials fromSinclair stations, according to

The Des Moines boycott list is comprises 26 advertisers.

Simpson was not the only institution of higher learning on thelist – Drake University’s Athletic Ticket Office and VaterottCollege were also on the list.