Sinclair Broadcast Group is going to the next level with its quest to Foxify—or just plain Trumpify—local news. The far-right management of the company, which owns or operates 173 local television stations, is requiring its local anchors to read a statement decrying fake news and assuring viewers of Sinclair’s “commitment to factual reporting.” This even as Sinclair runs pro-Trump commentaries by a former Trump aide during local news broadcasts.
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.” […]
“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.”
After CNN started asking questions, Sinclair changed the wording from “national media outlets” to “some media outlets.” Coming from a company that’s consistently worked to inject its right-wing agenda into its reporting, though, this is still staggeringly dishonest. It’s the new version of Fox News’s claim to be “fair and balanced” while pushing an agenda that’s explicitly political and even partisan.
Local news anchors aren’t too happy about being required to deliver the statement:
“This is so manipulative.” […]
“At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it,” a local anchor said. The person insisted on anonymity because they believed they would be fired for speaking out. […]
“I felt like a POW recording a message,” one of the anchors said.
But even if they felt comfortable speaking up publicly under their own names, Sinclair is making it pretty clear that it doesn’t care about its local anchors on this one. Not only is management dictating how the propaganda spots are produced down to the colors the anchors will wear, but all viewer feedback on whether Sinclair’s coverage is unfair will bypass local stations and go straight to corporate.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.