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Vet Group Will Pull Sinclair Complaint

A pro-John Kerry veterans group won't push its complaint against Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. over its news special critical of John Kerry, but it wasn't particularly happy with the broadcaster either.

The Veterans Institute for Security and Democracy plans to dismiss its complaint against Sinclair Wednesday, but also plans to attach a press statement expressing dissatisfaction with the program.

The group filed the complaint with the FCC Oct. 18. In that complaint, which anticipated that Sinclair would air the entire anti-Kerry documentary, Stolen Honor, the group had asked the FCC to rule that the program should not merit a media exemption from the equal opportunities clause of the Communications Act. That clause requires a station that allows one candidate to use its airwaves to offer an equal opportunity for the opposing candidate.

The group had been prepared to refile the complaint Monday if it concluded the show, which aired Oct. 15, was an "attempt to dishonor the military record of John Kerry and affect the outcome of the election."

Instead, Sinclair aired a special combining the original subject of Kerry's anti-Vietnam War protests with the flap that had arisen over its planned airing of all or part of a documentary on some POW's reaction to the protests.

It also offered something of an olive branch to the group last week, agreeing to interview the institute's president, Dick Klass, at its D.C. studios. It included part of that interview in the show and, Crigler says, promised to deliver a copy of the show to Klass soon after its airing.

"They don't think {the show] rises to legal objection anymore," said John Crigler, an attorney for the group, "but it does rise to journalistic objection."

Crigler says his client is still unhappy and believes the show was slanted, but gives Sinclair credit for trying "a little bit."