April 20, 2018

Sinclair Broadcast Group Under Fire For 'Pro-Trump' Promo Videos

04 April 2018, 01:11 | Marta Robbins

Trump laughs as liberals blow a gasket over broadcast company's 'responsible journalists' message

Sinclair tells stations to air media-bashing promos - and the criticism goes viral

"According to NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik on the future plans of the broadcasting group, Sinclair "...will also pull news coverage on those stations in a more conservative direction and explore giving full to rein to those beliefs on national platform".

President Donald Trump went to Sinclair's defense Monday, posting on Twitter that the company's stations, which often run commentary that is favorable to his administration, are more reliable news sources than CNN or NBC.

Trump tweeted Monday that it was amusing to watch "Fake News Networks" criticizing Sinclair for being biased.

"We're concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country", the Sinclair script said. "The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media", the script reads.

The script said "some outlets publish fake stories without checking facts first, and some people in the media push their own biases to control exactly what people think. This, as we've seen, is extremely unsafe to a democracy", three anchors said. As it has expanded, it has introduced conservative commentators to its local newscasts, including regular segments featuring its political director, Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump campaign official.

Scott Livingston, vice president of news at Sinclair, sent a memo to employees defending the company, and of course it was forwarded on to Bloomberg because this company is leaking more than the Titanic right now.

Despite all of the regulation relaxation, the Justice Department is still wrangling with Sinclair over how many stations the company must sell for the merger to be approved.

CNNMoney first reported on the promos - and the tensions they were creating in Sinclair newsrooms - last month.

Sinclair's efforts have received new scrutiny in the past few days after the website Deadspin assembled a short video showing anchors at dozens of Sinclair stations reciting the same fake news warning word for word. The reaction grew to a roar after Burke produced his more elaborate version of the same idea and posted it Saturday afternoon on Deadspin.

The injection of politics in Sinclair's programming was examined a year ago on HBO's "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver".

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The Columbia Journalism Review characterized Sinclair's policies of influencing local stations as an "Orwellian attack on the press".

IM reported last July that local news Sinclair markets were being forced to broadcast right-wing slanted reports tailored to their stations.

More recently, the company has mandated that its stations run a segment about the so-called "deep state" that featured former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, who has pushed a pro-America foreign policy position and claimed shadow government employees are trying to undermine the USA government.

When media giants gobble up local news stations, there are repercussions.

The video has again stirred concerns about the reach of Sinclair, which owns or operates almost 200 television stations across the country, and about its pro-Trump bias disguised in what many unassuming viewers may believe to be run-of-the-mill local news.

The anchors give no specific examples. "It illustrates a story that in some cases can read like a conspiracy theory".

"Sinclair proposed the merger after the FCC voted 3 to 2 in April of previous year to reintroduce a policy on how broadcasters" total percentage of the national market is calculated, making it easier for companies to expand.

The video's repetition illustrates Sinclair's reach in a way mere numbers can't, said Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at the City University of NY.

Although some Sinclair journalists privately grumbled about a corporate edict requiring them to air the Livingston spots on their stations, the campaign attracted little attention at the time.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. operates as a television broadcasting firm in the United States. The ability of local television news to reach a younger audience is one of its main differentiating factors with cable and network news.

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