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January 7, 2005
Staples Reverses Course? (Updated!)

After a day of capitulation to Media Matters for America, Staples must have read its e-mail this afternoon. Reversing course from its statement published in yesterday's Washington Post, Staples now claims it never intended to stop advertising on Sinclair news broadcasts:

To clarify that Staples does not have a policy against advertising on Sinclair Broadcasting news, Staples has the following statement:

Our media buying process with Sinclair Broadcasting stations has recently been misrepresented by an organization with no affiliation to Staples. Staples regularly drops and adds specific programs from our media buying schedule, as we evaluate and adjust how to best reach our customers. We do not let political agendas drive our media buying decisions.

Staples does not support any political party. We advertise with a variety of media outlets, but do not necessarily share the same views of these organizations or what they report. As we have done for a number of years, Staples will continue to advertise on Sinclair Broadcasting stations.

It appears that Staples has reversed itself, at least for public consumption. I wonder how many e-mails it took to convince them to publish that retraction. They certainly received more than a few from CQ readers. Nice job. (Hat tip: CQ reader Illini Tom)

UPDATE 1/7: Media Matters for America doesn't take kindly to Staples calling MMA's release a misrepresentation. Their latest release calls Staples' clarification into deep suspicion:

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 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 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.

Sounds like Staples hasn't been very honest to their customers, one way or the other, about its position on Sinclair. If what David Brock wrote here is true -- and the Post article substantiates most of it -- I don't blame him a bit for being unhappy with Staples' last release, which they've copied to everyone who e-mailed them to complain. They need to quit playing cute word games and make a decision on what they intend to do.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 7, 2005 1:00 PM

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