Gage Skidmore / Flickr Donald Trump...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The incredibly creepy video produced by Deadspin, showing a chorus of dozens of local newscasters intoning the same propagandized script from their owner—Sinclair broadcasting—has been making waves all over cable news. Which means, of course, it’s on Trump’s TV. Which means, of course:

Sinclair’s propaganda, produced by Sinclair’s Kristine Frazao, who just before joining the broadcasting behemoth was a reporter and anchor for the Russian-government funded RT news network, is tailor-made for oligarch-wannabe Trump, set up for him back in his campaign when they “struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage, his son-in-law Jared Kushner told business executives Friday in Manhattan.”

The deal in the campaign gave Sinclair greater access to Trump, and in return they would run their interviews with Trump without commentary across their huge local network of 173 stations. If Sinclair’s proposed acquisition of Tribune Media is allowed by the FCC, they’ll get as many as 42 new stations, and end up with coverage over a whopping 72 percent of the national audience. The law says that a single broadcaster can only cover 39 percent of the country, but there’s a loophole that Sinclair can exploit. Before cable and satellite dominated how people get their TV, a rule was adopted that allows ultra-high-frequency stations get counted at only 50 percent of their coverage, and a good portion of Sinclair’s stations are UHF.

The FCC should reject this acquisition, but the agency headed by Ajit Pai seems likely to approve it, despite that fact that Pai is under investigation by the FCC’s own inspector general for “improper coordination” with the broadcaster following a rule change allowing television broadcasters to greatly increase the number of stations they own. Pai and his staff met with Sinclair executives and used language from a Sinclair lobbyist in the rule change. Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has argued that “all of [the FCC’s] media policy decisions have one thing in common: They are all custom built for the business plans of Sinclair Broadcasting.”

Sinclair is dictating the pro-Trump ideological line that local anchors are forced to parrot to the local-news consuming population. The likely growth of the Trump-approved Sinclair propaganda network and the FCC’s decision to gut net neutrality, and with it an internet open for the free flow of information and activism, makes Ajit Pai’s FCC a direct threat to our democracy.

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