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"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Staples Plays Politics in Advertising 

The Washington Post reported yesterday that office-supply retail corporation Staples Inc is pulling all advertising from Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.
Office-supply retailer Staples Inc. is pulling its advertising from news programming on Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. television stations, saying the decision was fueled in part by e-mails from customers angry at what they consider to be the broadcaster's right-wing bias in news and commentary.
Yeah, well I'm angry too: Angry that Staples would cave so easily to a left-wing email campaign. Guess what, Staples? You lost my business. Just like Target lost my business for refusing to allow Salvation Army bell ringers to collect money outside of their stores before Christmas.

Sinclair, as you will recall, aired "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," a film that was critical of John Kerry's Vietnam service.

The left-wing group behind all this is Media Matters, has even set up a special website www.sinclairaction.org in which they will encourage other companies to boycott Sinclair.

Ok, fair enough. It's a free country and if a group wants to put pressure on a company, that's ok. It's also fine for a company to pull advertising from a media source.

But let's take a look at the accusations against Sinclair. Sinclair Action posts this

In a press release, The National Center for Public Policy Research President Amy Ridenour has some questions for Staples:
we have launched a campaign to protest Sinclair Broadcast Group's continued misuse of public airwaves to air one-sided politically charged programming without a counterpoint.
Without a counterpoint! Dan Rather always provided a counterpoint, right?
The campaign aims to spur action against Sinclair's use of the 62 television stations it owns or operates to systematically promote partisan political interests. Of particular concern is a nightly "news and commentary" segment titled "The Point", in which Sinclair vice president Mark Hyman consistently attacks progressives and prominent Democrats and ardently supports President Bush and conservative policies.
Well that's just terrible, isn't it?

Sinclair Action features Moveon.org prominently on their website. 'nuf said?

Amy Ridenour, President of The National Center for Public Policy Research, has some questions for Staples:
"If Staples wants to avoid supporting political media, it should start by boycotting CBS," said National Center President Amy Ridenour. "Sinclair may irritate some on the left by being openly pro-American, but, unlike CBS, it didn't team up with forgers in an attempt to play dirty politics on the eve of the last presidential race."
On her blog posting, she says that they have contacted Staples to get their side of the story, but as of this writing have received no response. They, too, are ending purchases from Staples.

I checked the Staples website, and as of this writing can find no press releases on the issue.

What really irks me about all this is how cravenly Staples seems to have capitulated to this pressure campaign. Granted their first responsibility is to their stockholders. No doubt, therefore, the executives at Staples were looking to avoid financial loss. But they have miscalculated. This is a game that two can play, and conservatives can shop at office supply retailers other than Staples.

Update

Staples denies that they have pulled advertising from Sinclair. They say that Media Matters misrepresented the situation. Looks like Staples may be the victim here. See new post above for details
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