Now it appears as if Staples may have done corporate CYA in light of David Brock’s just released letter to the office supply giant indicating it had actually APPROVED AND EDITED Media Matter’s press release indicating it was pulling its advertising from Sinclair Broadcasting.
Now — since we ran the press release about Staples basically accusing Media Matters of misrepresentation in full last night– we offer you Brock’s letter in full here:
January 7, 2005
Mr. Ron Sargent
Chief Executive Officer
500 Staples Drive
Framingham, MA 01702
Dear Mr. Sargent:
It has come to my attention from press reports today that Staples, Inc. contends that Media Matters for America misrepresented Staples’ decision not to renew advertising on local news programming on Sinclair Broadcast Group stations as of January 10, 2005.
As you may know, Staples, Inc. officials reviewed, edited, and approved the Media Matters press release of January 4, 2005, in both draft and final form. That release stated that Staples was not renewing advertising on Sinclair local news programming due in part to concerns registered by visitors to the SinclairAction.com website, which was launched December 14, 2004, to protest the conservative slant of Sinclair’s news programming, in particular a nightly conservative commentary called "The Point."
Visitors to the SinclairAction.com site who contacted Staples, Inc. received email replies from the company informing them that as of January 10, 2005, Staples, Inc. would no longer advertise on Sinclair local news programming.
On January 4, 2005, Staples, Inc. confirmed these facts both to Media Matters and to reporters. For example, on January 5, 2005, Staples, Inc. spokesman Owen Davis was quoted as telling the Chicago Tribune: "In general, we don’t explain decisions regarding our media buys. But we did consider the concerns expressed by our customers with some political partisan programming, specifically ‘The Point.’" And also on January 5, 2005, The Washington Post quoted Mr. Davis as saying that "Staples did consider among other factors the concerns expressed by our customers" regarding the content on Sinclair news programs.
Despite Staples’ issuance of a "clarification" yesterday, January 6, 2005, an article in The Baltimore Sun today, January 7, 2005, noted that Staples spokesman Paul Capelli "still acknowledg[ed] e-mail complaints in part caused it to stop advertising on Sinclair’s local programs."
So, to summarize, Media Matters stated the following in our press release of January 4, 2005: 1) Staples won’t be advertising on local news programming on Sinclair stations as of January 10, 2005; and 2) that decision was based in part on the activism generated by SinclairAction.com. Nothing in Staples’ "clarification" negates or contradicts either of these two statements.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Media Matters for America
Mr. Paul Capelli, Vice President of Public Relations, Staples, Inc.
Mr. Owen Davis, Public Relations Manager, Staples, Inc.
Ms. Marci Grebstein, Vice President of Media and Marketing Communications, Staples, Inc.
We will never really know, of course, but it sounds to us as if Staples was caught in a political pincer and tried to placate both sides…which, of course, as we know is impossible in 21st Century America.