— Deadspin (@Deadspin) March 31, 2018
A viral video showing dozens of local news anchors recite ultra-conservative, pro-Trump rhetoric as if from a script, and in unison, has a lot of folks concerned.
It turns out conservative media giant Sinclair Broadcasting Group has been quietly buying television stations across the country and changing their programming to promote a right-wing stance, according to Deadspin, which published the damning video over the weekend. The minute-long clip reveals dozens of anchors from Sinclair-owned stations uttering the exact same speech warning viewers against “biased” and fake news.
” … We’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country,” the anchors say. “The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.”
The company, which owns nearly 200 stations in the U.S., has reportedly been forcing its affiliates to run conservative commentary segments, including those by former advisers of President Donald Trump. Why is this so dangerous you ask?
Sinclair stands as America’s largest TV owner and is set to acquire several more stations with its purchasing of Tribune Media, NPR reported. The $3.9 billion deal would swallow 14 Fox, six CBS, two NBC and three ABC affiliates, turning dozens more anchors “into soldiers in Trump’s war on the media.”
Sinclair has previously decried fake news in a segment, shot by a company executive, that local affiliates were instructed to air last year, according to NPR. Requiring anchors to read a script essentially attacking their chosen professions as part of a recorded promo is a new move by the media conglomerate.
The script, shared by Deadspin, mirrors this version aired by local station KOMO in Seattle:
Several local reporters have reportedly spoken out since the news broke, saying they were uncomfortable with being forced to recite a script echoing Trump’s inflammatory remarks about so-called “fake news.”
“An all-newsroom email from one station news director read: ‘Let me be absolutely clear here… These MUST Run. If they do not, my job is on the line. I don't say that to scare you by any means but I do say this so you understand how serious [Sinclair] is about this project.’” https://t.co/xDZn7SW5rz
— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) April 1, 2018
I'm not betting the house on hearing back from @CBS6Albany, but here's what I wrote to their feedback and news email addresses after finding out a station in my old hometown was among those broadcasting Sinclair propaganda.
I'm a journalist with ethics. This is not acceptable. pic.twitter.com/5Y4uQnQ0Sp
— Andrew Champagne (@AndrewChampagne) April 3, 2018
Unsurprisingly, Trump has tweeted his support for the media group, arguing “Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC.”
So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018