The “noxious media weed” (Sinclair Broadcasting) takes a big step toward becoming Trump TV
Going way beyond the “Terrorism Alert Desk” and must-run Epshteyn and Hyman commentaries, Sinclair Broadcasting is now requiring local news anchors to attack national media for fake news and bias
CNN is reporting that Sinclair-owned stations (like local Channel 9 WTOV in Steubenville) will require their news anchors to participate in the creation of promos that will attack the “fake stories” found in other news outlets:
The promos are supposed to start airing on local stations later this month. The instructions sent to station news directors say that the 60- and 75-second spots should run frequently "to create maximum reach and frequency."
Here’s how it will work:
The promos begin with one or two anchors introducing themselves and saying "I'm [we are] extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that [proper news brand name of local station] produces. But I'm [we are] concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country."
Then the media bashing begins.
"The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media," the script says. "More alarming, national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without checking facts first. Unfortunately, some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control 'exactly what people think' . . . This is extremely dangerous to our democracy."
Then the anchors are supposed to strike a more positive tone and say that their local station pursues the truth. "We understand Truth is neither politically 'left or right.' Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever."
I can hardly wait. (It's interesting that Sinclair won’t allow the viewer to simply decide what the Truth (or truth) is and not unlike our local “newspapers,” they must proclaim it loudly as they wrap themselves in their supposed commitment to it.)
CNN reports that some Sinclair news anchors are not pleased. It will be interesting to see how the anchors at our local Sinclair station in Steubenville follows through on this requirement.
I’ve previously documented some of Sinclair’s connections to the Trump administration. New York Magazine’s article on this also has an excellent summary:
When Trump took office, Sinclair was on the cusp of purchasing Tribune media, a merger that would give the firm ownership of enough local stations to reach 70 percent of U.S. homes. But there were two obstacles to such a deal: Federal rules put a cap on the number of local news stations any single entity could own, and also prohibited any company from owning a newspaper and television station in the same media market. Taking on Tribune’s assets would put Sinclair in violation of both those laws.
But by the end of Trump’s first year in office, his appointees to the Federal Communications Commission had abolished both of those regulations. And so, in all probability, a single, superrich family of arch-conservatives will soon dictate standards of “journalistic responsibility” to local TV newsrooms from coast to coast.
Finally, Charlie Pierce suggests what should happen:
Needless to say, Sinclair should be stripped of its broadcasting privileges and broken into a thousand pieces. Its purchase of the Tribune Media should be laughed out of the room and its local advertisers should flee its local stations in droves. Every authoritarian regime needs its mouthpieces and, if you can stop it from attaining one, the regime eventually will fall to its own lies. This is what needs to happen now. Meanwhile, if you live in one of those places afflicted by this noxious media weed, be forewarned. There’s always a Law & Order rerun on somewhere.
What have we learned today about our media world? Ogden scooped up a half-dozen or so more newspapers (although it didn’t up its ante on the Gazette-Mail) and Sinclair took a huge step toward becoming “Trump TV.” Yes, it’s been quite a day for “the marketplace of ideas.”