Sinclair Critic Denied Unemployment Pay

The Maryland Department of Labor has denied a claim for unemployment benefits filed by former Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. political reporter Jon Leiberman, who was fired last fall after he spoke out against Sinclair’s plans to air a documentary featuring Swift Boat Veterans’ allegations against Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

Sinclair did not air the documentary, but included parts in a news special, Stolen Honor.

A document released by Sinclair Tuesday says the state’s Department of Labor concluded Leiberman was discharged from Sinclair’s news operation News Central for “speaking to the press/media without permission and sharing of propriety information outside the company.”

Leiberman gave an interview to the Baltimore Sun lambasting Stolen Honor as “biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election.” He was axed the next day.

The Department of Labor report found the reporter’s conduct “was either a deliberate and willful disregard of the standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect” or “a series of repeated violations of employment rules” with a “wanton disregard” of his obligations to Sinclair. Under the Maryland Unemployment Insurance Law, it concludes, Leiberman’s behavior “constitutes gross misconduct.”

Leiberman told B&C he collected unemployment for three weeks and, after Sinclair challenged the claim, was ordered to repay about $1,000 to the state.

“I was just trying to support my family until I found some freelance work,” Leiberman told B&C Tuesday. “I just want this whole thing behind me.” 

He is currently freelance producing for Fox’s popular reality series, America’s Most Wanted.