Sinclair Responds To "Unfounded Media Criticism" Over Local Journalists' Scripted Mantra
07 April, 2018, 00:54 | Author: Constance French
Amid the growing controversy, President Donald Trump came out in support of Sinclair on Twitter Monday. They gained widespread attention over the weekend on social media after the websites ThinkProgress and Deadspin edited together dozens of Sinclair anchors reading the identical words on the air.
No matter how much Sinclair tries to deny these obvious similarities and claim to be nonpartisan, the fact that it is forcing local reporters to recite a piece of corporate propaganda is troubling. The hire was skewered in a 2017 segment on HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver".
Sinclair wrote promos for its network of local broadcasters.
The controversial promo has run on Sinclair stations across the country and includes Trump-sounding bits such as "national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without checking facts first".
Sinclair has previously decried fake news in a segment, shot by a company executive, that local affiliates were instructed to air previous year, according to NPR.
The focus on Sinclair comes after Deadspin published a montage video of the company's anchors across the US reciting a promo that sounds a lot like President Trump's take on the news media.
"It sickens me the way this company is encroaching upon trusted news brands in rural markets", an investigative reporter at Sinclair told CNNMoney on condition of anonymity.
It also describes Sinclair stations as an apolitical source of credible, factual reporting. The group says it found at least 62 Sinclair stations reaching 29 states and the District of Columbia that have broadcast their own versions of the scripted segment.
A person in Sinclair management confirmed that tensions are on the rise.
The senior director also pointed out that while it might not require stations to advertise its ownership, they do mandate that stations broadcast "must-run commentary". The Terrorism Alert Desk about security threats around the world is another regular feature.
The new promo campaign took it to another level, causing even more consternation in local newsrooms.
While the policy, which many staffers have referred to as embarrassing and pushing a pro-Trump agenda of its own, started nearly a month ago, it went viral this past weekend and President Trump tweeted support for the stations this morning. For example, a December 2016 story by Politico said that The Trump campaign "struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage".
Employees are letting their displeasure with being used to help advance the companies agenda and speaking anonymously at the fear of losing their jobs.
Ultimately, how can a press remain free and objective when those who are put in control of it are most interested in profit and advancing a political agenda?
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