I’ve been writing about Sinclair Broadcasting’s growth for a couple of months. Here’s some recent additional material from Andy Kroll at Mother Jones:
From the 1980s to the present, Smith and his three brothers built their small family company into the largest owner-operator of TV stations in America. Sinclair’s 193 stations span the country, beaming into 2 out of every 5 households. The company’s reach will almost double if the Federal Communications Commission approves a $3.9 billion merger between Sinclair and Tribune Media. The deal would give Sinclair footholds in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago—the country’s three largest media markets.
Kroll tried to interview Sinclair’s CEO David Smith but was turned down as Smith replied:
“With all due respect, [in] my 40+ years of being in the media, I can tell you I have not seen one article written by the print or internet that was even remotely honest.”
As Kroll relates:
in Smith’s view, there hasn’t been a single “even remotely honest” story about him or his company in 40 years.
Kroll suggested a number of favorable media stories about Smith. Kroll concludes that the email exchange:
ended on a revealing note, offering a peek into the mind of a media mogul with vast influence over the most trusted form of news in the US.
Sinclair may be looking to eliminate some locally-produced local news
For economic reasons, what if news at Steubenville’s Sinclair station (WTOV) was produced in Pittsburgh by another Sinclair-owned station (WPGH)? How well do you think it would cover the Wheeling-Steubenville market if the news originated from Pittsburgh? The FCC does not currently permit this under the “Main Studio Rule” but guess who is challenging the rule? The Street documents what might happen:
The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday, Oct. 24, is set to take up a longtime broadcast industry proposal to eliminate the so-called Main Studio Rule, which requires TV station owners to keep a local staff where its antennae are based. The requirement dates to 1939, and though it was watered down in 1987 during the Reagan administration, advocates insist that broadcasters produce news and public affairs programming in exchange for using the public's airwaves.
"Broadcasters are granted licenses to serve local communities," said Chris Ruddy, chairman of conservative news organization Newsmax Media Inc. "What the FCC is saying is that it's all right not to have personnel in the community. But regardless of where you are politically, this a threat to free press and diversity of press at the local level, which leads to a centralization of news."
Sinclair has countered that it's not economically feasible or necessary to retain local staff at all of its TV stations, and that TV broadcasters are already overmatched by large tech companies such as Facebook, Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet, owner of Google and YouTube, which have fast entered the media business.
This is the first that I’ve seen mention of this possibility and it strikes me that it would certainly hurt the citizens of small markets like Wheeling-Steubenville. (I can’t recall ever agreeing with the conservative Newsmax but in this case, I think its chairman has it right – this would greatly hurt local news.)
It appears to be getting less subtle in its racist approach to news
Today’s Salon features a story by Taylor Link about a recent segment by Sebastian Gorka, one of Sinclair’s “must run” commentators:
Sebastian Gorka warns of “black African gun crime” in Sinclair Broadcast appearance
As the sub-headline explains:
The former Trump adviser is bringing his xenophobia and bigotry to local news stations
From the article:
Gorka's "black African crime" statement was just another racially-charged media hit for the former Breitbart editor. Gorka appeared on Sean Hannity's show in September to denounce the NFL protests, using fascistic language to get his point across.
"The red of that flag, the stripes in that flag, that's the same red as the blood of Americans that fought and died for this nation," Gorka told lawyer Daryl Parks.
Right-wing websites such as the Federalist and Breitbart have come under fire in recent years for using a "black crime" tag to describe news stories about crimes involving black suspects. The practice was racist for emphasizing crime in the black community — a way to scaremonger readers who may already hold white nationalist beliefs. Gorka has now introduced that "black crime" section to America's broadcast stations.
Update 10/25 -- NBC News reports Bill O'Reilly is negotiating with Sinclair
Given the two parties, this isn't all that surprising. As NBC News reported earlier today:
Bill O'Reilly, the former Fox News anchor, has been negotiating for a position with the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation's largest television-station owner, according to two sources familiar with the talks.
Sinclair, known for its conservative commentary, is continuing with the talks despite the sexual harassment cases that cost O'Reilly his job at Fox this year, the sources said. Last week, The New York Times reported that O’Reilly had settled a $32 million sexual harassment claim against him by a former legal analyst, Lis Wiehl. The sources said the news does not appear to have sidelined the talks.