Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which owns hundreds of local news outlets across the country, is under fire after a video went viral over the weekend featuring a montage of their scripted promotional material anchors are forced to read.
The script features anti-media language that could have been taken from one of Donald Trump's tweets or speeches.
How America's largest local TV owner turned its news anchors into soldiers in Trump's war on the media:… https://t.co/6PJdQRO2EA— Deadspin (@Deadspin) 1522527089.0
Sinclair Broadcasting Group is a media giant whose expansion efforts have been backed by Ajit Pai, the controversial chairman of the FCC. Many across the country view Sinclair as a growing propaganda wing of Trump's political machine.
“We are focused on fact-based reporting. That's our commitment to our communities," Scott Livingston, senior vice president of news for Sinclair, told The Baltimore Sun. "That’s the goal of these announcements: to reiterate our commitment to reporting facts in a pursuit of truth. We consider it our honor and privilege to deliver the news each night. We seek the truth and strive to be fair.”
Ahem... https://t.co/rnCTz0na6f— Pé Resists (@Pé Resists) 1522610448.0
The propaganda-like promos show anchors parroting in unison from one anti-media, pro-Trump script, which reads:
"Hi, I’m(A) ____________, and I’m (B) _________________…
(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our Northwest communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that KOMO News produces.
(A) But we’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.
(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.
(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’…This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.
(B) At KOMO it’s our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left nor right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.
(A) But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to KOMOnews.com and clicking on CONTENT CONCERNS. We value your comments. We will respond back to you.
(B) We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual… We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.
(A) Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback."
John Oliver, who covered the story on Last Week Tonight, remarked that the script "is creepy enough, but when you see just how many local stations were forced to read it, and you bunch them together...you begin to realize the effect of Sinclair's reach and power."
John Oliver tears into Sinclair Broadcasting, the Trump-loving local news giant https://t.co/ZREJ7xwF6h https://t.co/d7ifjIxp7a— Mother Jones (@Mother Jones) 1522673024.0
Sinclair Broadcasting has been slowly purchasing local news networks in recent years and has enormous influence over what news people receive through their local broadcasters. Peter Chernin, who helped run Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp for nearly 20 years, said, " This is insidious. The first key to stopping it is to call on advertisers who support this propaganda and express your objections."
This is insidious. The first key to stopping it is to call on advertisers who support this propaganda and express… https://t.co/WcFlW16ulH— Peter Chernin (@Peter Chernin) 1522598801.0
"I feel bad because they're seeing these people they've trusted for decades tell them things they know are essentially propaganda," One local anchor said. Many anchors are disturbed by the script, the anchor explained, "because they have all this experience in news, and now they're being degraded like this."
The viral video is facing some harsh backlash on social media. Jimmy Kimmel called the script "extremely dangerous to our democracy."
this is extremely dangerous to our democracy https://t.co/D1T8Z7J2Wn— Jimmy Kimmel (@Jimmy Kimmel) 1522558605.0
Some have called it the start of Trump-TV, which would allegedly be dominated by pro-Trump stories running under the guise of 'combating fake news.'
Read @AndyKroll’s report on Sinclair. https://t.co/TIUNdCcPKs— Jamil Smith (@Jamil Smith) 1522593976.0
A list of stations controlled by Sinclair was posted to Twitter on Saturday.
To fight back against Sinclair's "State TV" we must first know which stations are theirs! Here's a state-by-state… https://t.co/pmJdHIdYXw— 🆘(202) 224-3121 ⬅️☎️CONGRESS (@🆘(202) 224-3121 ⬅️☎️CONGRESS) 1522543515.0
President Donald Trump weighed in on Monday morning, calling Sinclair "far superior to CNN and even more fake NBC, which is a total joke."
So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize S… https://t.co/DPVwCxlewf— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1522675722.0