Censoring Abe Lincoln

Speaking of The Gettysburg Address, one has to wonder whether the Sinclair Broadcast Group would allow Ted Koppel to read these words on ABC's Nightline:

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Atrios has been all over this story, but for those who haven't heard, here's the short version:

Tonight's broadcast of Nightline features a tribute to the more than 520 American men and women who have died in combat during the war in Iraq. Ted Koppel will read their names and their pictures will be shown. The names and photos of the more than 200 troops who have died from causes other than hostile incidents will not be read, ABC says:

One point, we are not going to include those killed in non-hostile incidents. There’s no disrespect meant here, we just don’t have enough time in this one broadcast. But they are no less deserving of our thoughts. I hope that you will join us for at least part of “The Fallen” on Friday.

Every indication is that this will be a tasteful and moving tribute to the service and sacrifice of those who "gave the last full measure of devotion." (It's not like they're going to be playing Jim Carroll in the background.)

The show is not a pro-war statement, nor is it an anti-war statement. It is a tribute, and a statement of sad, undeniable facts.

But the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the largest owner of ABC affiliates, is refusing to air tonight's Nightline. Sinclair believes America's war dead are best honored by ignoring them. The Nightline tribute, they say, is "motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq."

Sinclair says this the same week that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, in testimony before Congress, demonstrated that he doesn't have a clue how many American lives have been lost in this war. Hopefully someone will TiVo tonight's Nightline for him.

Sinclair's stations will, by the way, still bring viewers Jimmy Kimmel Live in it's regularly scheduled slot.

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  • Lis Riba

    Update: ABC has agreed to extend the length of the broadcast so they will include those killed in non-hostile incidents.

  • Scaramouche

    I don’t agree. This is not a Gettysburg Address. This is the “They’ve Lost Conkrite Moment.”
    Think about it. Koppel is celebrating the 1 yr. Anniversary of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” (orgasmic codpiece photo-shoot) speech by honoring the dead. Slowly, solemnly reading each name out loud and showing the picture of those who have died in this war of choice.
    Just the facts, Ma’am.
    How could this not pierce the (increasingly thin-skinned) chink in the armor of this Administration? That they could let a pervert partisan like the CEO of Sinclair Co. to try and censor this and take the heat, shows how hard they’ll fight back…

  • Adam Kotsko

    No one complained when the NY Times did individual tributes to the victims of 9/11 — no one said it supported a “morbid fascination with the dead and a way of capitalizing on people’s fears by reinforcing the idea that it could happen to them” or some other such nonsense.
    I think part of the Bush administration’s strategy is to make its opponents so angry and frustrated that they can’t think straight half the time, then get Rush Limbaugh to proclaim that “liberals are angry.”

  • none

    Adam – that’s an excellent point about the victims of
    9/11. I read those out of respect for their families, who agreed to have the obits published. They were very hard to get through. My husband said it was creepy and it reminded him of a contest to pick who was the most virtuous and missed dead person.
    On Koppel – am I the only person who though his closing comment was a sell-out to the pro-war camp?