In the end, did Sinclair stations' feature about an anti-John Kerry documentary have any impact on the presidential election? Sinclair CEO David Smith doesn't know and doesn't care.
“What was its effect? I haven't got a clue,” he says. “That's not my issue.”
Smith does have an issue with publications, including this one, that characterized the program as a retreat from original plans to air a full version of Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal. Sinclair officials insisted throughout the controversy that they never planned to run Stolen Honor in its entirety.
“My news department produced a television show that the vast majority of my audience characterized as a pro-Kerry piece,” Smith says. “In fact, that's what I saw it as. Lots of people saw it that way. We produced a piece we regard as fair and balanced. There were no lies, no words put in people's mouths.”
In a conference call with analysts, the voluble and controversial Smith recently crowed that the controversy gave Sinclair “probably tens of millions” of dollars' worth of promotion that will increase the audience of Sinclair's newscasts.
Now that the 2004 political warfare has abated, maybe at least the wounds from this skirmish will begin healing soon.