TV anchor joins Sinclair chorus in 'false news' attack

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". "This is extremely risky to a democracy", the script said.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group, the largest local TV owner is under fire for using it's news anchors as weapons in Trump's ongoing battle against the "fake news networks" by using them to regurgitate a promo full of Trumplike talking points. When confronted about the move, Sinclair's vice president of news, Scott Livingston, told Politico that the company had offered a similar deal to Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton, but claimed Clinton had declined the opportunity.

Sinclair employees say their parent company often pays especially close attention to its affiliates' editorial activities, meddling in how they present their stories and graphics, and sometimes going so far as to delete offensive comments on an affiliate's online articles before that station's own web editors have a chance to do so.

But Sinclair dishes up its own "news" packages and scripts and forces local stations to air the segments as "must runs". Some told the outlet they believe the promos are "inappropriate", and one felt "uncomfortable" recording them.

President Trump tweeted in support of Sinclair, criticizing other news networks for being "among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with".

"The Fake News Networks, those that knowingly have a sick and biased AGENDA, are anxious about the competition and quality of Sinclair Broadcast", the commander-in-chief tweeted. In the U.S., where Fake News and concerns over the phenomenon have been gaining traction ever since 2016's presidential election, news anchors from the various stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group have come together to read out a scripted plea and pledge against Fake News in unison.

Those concerns heightened as Trump sided with Sinclair Monday morning.


Timothy Burke, a video editor at Deadspin, said he read a CNN story last month about the script being sent to local stations and contacted a media monitoring service to collect examples of the statement being read on the air.

"It is ironic that we would be attacked for messages promoting our journalistic initiative for fair and objective reporting, and for specifically asking the public to hold our newsrooms accountable", a statement from Sinclair Broadcast Group said.

Lots of local news reporters have complained about the script. Sinclair also gave instructions on what outfits to wear while reading it in order to project neutrality and a strict mandate that any response from local audience members should be engaged with by Sinclair, not the local station.

Sinclair Broadcast Group has a conservative, pro-Trump bent, and it is quickly becoming one of the most powerful players in mainstream media.

Oliver again criticized Sinclair for pushing Epsheteyn commentaries, and aired part of the Deadspin clip of anchors reading from the script. Or what about TV reporting that's informed by stories that appeared in the New York Times or the Washington Post?

Sinclair, based outside Baltimore, began airing the promotional campaign last week during newscasts on its stations.

"Sinclair proposed the merger after the FCC voted 3 to 2 in April of past year to reintroduce a policy on how broadcasters" total percentage of the national market is calculated, making it easier for companies to expand. What's happening at Sinclair is troubling for us and problematic for our entire industry.

  • Tracy Klein