Warm Relations With Trump Appear To Benefit Sinclair Broadcasting

Sinclair Broadcast Group owns over 200 local news stations across the United States including WGN

Last week, Deadspin dropped a chilling viral video of almost 200 local news stations and affiliates owned or operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group from across the United States reciting identical speeches warning their audiences of "fake news", and sounding an terrible lot like Trump propaganda. The group owns nearly 200 local television stations across the country and if they buy out Tribune, they will get control over 42 more stations.

Journalists at Sinclair-owned stations have been rankled by corporate-mandated "must run" segments like the anti-fake news one and pro-Trump commentary from Boris Epshteyn, which cut into local news time, CNN reported. "And this is extremely risky to our democracy".

Sinclair is the largest owner of local TV stations in the United States, but it's not just its size that makes it influential, it's also how the USA audience views local news compared to other media.

I've written quite a few data-driven stories tracking conservative media, but it's been hard to track Sinclair because it owns hundreds of local stations.

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During the 2016 presidential campaign, its stations in key swing states landed numerous exclusive interviews with Trump and his surrogates, and the company produced a number of news reports that were favorable to Trump or were critical of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The video's repetition illustrates Sinclair's reach in a way mere numbers can't, said Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at the City University of NY. "I've been talking with staffers at Sinclair-owned stations for several weeks - here's my brand new story about all this".

The script read by the various news anchors included: "We're concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country".

Sinclair did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Newsweek. The hire was skewered in a 2017 segment on HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver".

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So why, you may be wondering, would so many journalists willingly go along with such ham-fisted propagandizing?

Sinclair owns or operates 193 TV stations in 89 U.S. markets, and it has repeatedly required them to run segments that spread right-wing messages. The message decries false and misleading news.

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? And Trump's tweet just yesterday essentially praising them over CNN and NBC as much fairer and much better, you know, has cast a certain light on the decision that his lawyers at the Justice Department are now poised to make.

Sinclair also has pushed to ease regulation of the broadcast industry and approve its plan to buy Tribune Media, a move that would dramatically increase the company's reach.

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