The Sinclair Broadcast Group has been buying up TV stations throughout the country, and though Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has been under investigation for pushing rule changes that would benefit media companies with right-wing agendas, Sinclair’s impact is being felt.
With Sinclair now owning more than 170 news outlets in the U.S., making it the largest owner in the country, the fact the company’s executives are making local stations run pro-Donald Trump stances while bashing the media for delivering fake news is making much of the journalism community uncomfortable. Now, Deadspin has put together a supercut of the promo the anchors must read.
Why is this a big deal? As the left-leaning Think Progress writes:
Sinclair has long produced ‘must-run’ segments for its stations, dispersing them to its various subsidiaries and requiring the local stations to run controversial, typically conservative commentary promos alongside their regular news coverage. However, in recent weeks, it’s begun turning its sights on the competition, throwing in mentions of ‘fake news,’ among other things …
Sinclair regularly runs disinformation segments favorable to President Trump: one of its staples is a recurring pre-taped segment featuring Sinclair’s chief political analyst, Russian-born former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn. As ThinkProgress previously reported, those segments frequently include misleading talking points and misinformation from the Trump administration, packaged as actual political analysis and news coverage.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, said in 2016 that the Trump campaign had agreed to a deal with Sinclair where Sinclair would get more access to Trump in exchange for more Trump-centric coverage.
Sinclair is also in the process of buying Tribune Media, which would give Sinclair another 42 TV stations and would give it the ability to broadcast to least 70 percent of U.S. homes.
As one anonymous anchor told CNN, “At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it.” Said another: “I felt like a POW recording a message.”