Sinclair stock in free-fall

By Eric Boehlert
Published October 19, 2004 2:02PM (EDT)

Stock in the Sinclair Broadcast Group continues to drop like a rock. Since the company announced its unprecedented move to air a one-side hit piece on its 62 stations nationwide on the eve of a presidential election (i.e., "Stolen Honor," the anti-Kerry documentary), Sinclair shares have plummeted from nearly $8 to $6.50, losing nearly 20 percent of their value in just six trading days. The current value not only marks a 52-week low for the company's stock, but it's the lowest level since February 2001, and comes dangerously close to surpassing the stock's five-year low. Sinclair's Republican stunt proves once again that mass communications and partisan politics don't always mix, especially with irate Democrats voicing their outrage over Sinclair's move and urging advertiser boycotts. As one Sinclair employee told Salon last week, "They have no idea what they've unleashed."

The picture for Sinclair shareholders is even grimmer if they step back and look at what the stock was valued at just six months ago: $13. That was the last time Sinclair decided to use the public airwaves for blatantly political purposes, barring its ABC affiliates from airing a special "Nightline" during which the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq were read off. Since then, the stock has lost nearly half its value. Of course if longtime Sinclair shareholders really want to gnash their teeth over the company's inept management, they can just think back to the glory days of 1995 when their $6.50 Sinclair stock was worth ... $45.

Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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