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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bloggers Flex Their Muscle Yet Again

Last month it was the conservative bloggers who called CBS on the forged documents purportedly showing that President Bush did not fulfill his National Guard obligations. Now, it's the liberals' turn.

Democrats are up in arms about plans by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group to pre-empt its normal programming to show a film critical of John Kerry a few days before the general election. As a result, blogs such as Boycottsbg.com are organizing boycotts of network advertisers. Boycottsbg.com claims to have persuaded 80 advertisers to pull out so far. The Kerry campaign, having gotten up to speed on blogging, is in on the act as well.

Historically, advertiser boycotts have a dubious record, being ineffective at best, conterproductive at worst. However, something is having an effect on Sinclair, as its stock has plummeted from approximately $7.75 per share last week to $6.26 at close of trading today -- near an all-time low (before a late-afternoon rally, shares had fallen to as low as $6.12).

Not all of this can be blamed on (or credited to) the Kerry controversy; other technical factors have contributed to give Sinclair a poor investment rating. Also not helping matters is a report of a spoofed e-mail that is supposedly from Sinclair CEO David Smith. Sinclair claims the e-mail is a forgery and is telling anyone who receives it to disregard it, though Sinclair is declining to say exactly what the e-mail contains.

Sinclair executives are unabashed Bush supporters, and recently fired a reporter who was critical of showing the Kerry documentary. So we seem to be looking at a true battle of the wills here. If the bloggers continue to play a key role in this boycott, and if the boycott proves successful, it would likely be the first time that blogs were responsible for bringing down a corporation.

Source: WorldChanging