October 21, 2004

Stolen Honor

I have not seen Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal, the controversial anti-Kerry documentary that Sinclair Broadcast Group wants to show all over the country. I've had no desire to see it. I’m a lot more interested in the war we’re engaged in now than the one that ended before I was old enough to read.

But my interest is piqued by the review it received in The New York Times.
“Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” the highly contested anti-Kerry documentary, should not be shown by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. It should be shown in its entirety on all the networks, cable stations and on public television.

This histrionic, often specious and deeply sad film does not do much more damage to Senator John Kerry's reputation than have the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's negative ads, which have flooded television markets in almost every swing state. But it does help viewers better understand the rage fueling the unhappy band of brothers who oppose Mr. Kerry's candidacy and his claim to heroism.

Sinclair, the nation's largest television station group, reaching about a quarter of United States television households, backed down this week and announced that it would use only excerpts from the 42-minute film as part of an hourlong news program about political use of the media, “A P.O.W. Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media.'' That's too bad: what is most enlightening about this film is not the depiction of Mr. Kerry as a traitor; it is the testimony of the former P.O.W.'s describing the torture they endured in captivity and the shock they felt when celebrities like Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden visited their prisons in North Vietnam and sided with the enemy.
I wish I didn’t take a person’s political leanings into account when I read stuff like this. The article ought to stand on its own. And to an extent, it does. But this review is a bit more credible (at least for me) because it looks like it was written by a liberal.

I had never heard of Alessandra Stanley, the reviewer, before. So I punched her name into Google. The first search engine hit is a page devoted to her at Timeswatch.org, a conservative Web site that monitors “liberal bias” at The New York Times.

It wasn’t at all predictable that she would find this movie important. At least it wouldn’t have been predicted by people who watch her career. She is not “the converted.” At least she wasn’t until after she watched it.

I don’t need “permission” from a liberal to watch an anti-Kerry movie. I’m not voting for him. And I’m not about to become defensive about his history or his record – at least not overly defensive. But this film has at least some bipartisan appeal. If it were nothing but election-year hack work the liberal reviewer at the Times would surely have said so.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 21, 2004 9:59 PM
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