In what amounts to an insidious use of public newscasts. local television stations across the country that are owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. have been instructed to slant news coverage in support of positions and views of President Trump.
As that company closes in on owning enough local television stations to reach 70 percent of U.S. viewers, that is a big deal. It amounts to a giant propaganda machine via local news, which generally is trusted by most viewers as being fair and unbiased.
All of this came to light in an article in a New York magazine Daily Intelligencer article based on CNN's investigative reporting, which uncovered instructions and a specific "must-use" script that have been delivered by Sinclair Broadcast Group to its local stations.
As CNN reported, the instructions to local stations say that the promos “should play using news time, not commercial time.”
“Please produce the attached scripts exactly as they are written,” the instructions say. “This copy has been thoroughly tested and speaks to our Journalistic Responsibility as advocates to seek the truth on behalf of the audience.”
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.”
Then the media bashing begins. “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.”In these “anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message[s],”
Sinclair explicitly weaponizes local TV news’ reputation for impartiality to amplify White House talking points. At the end of these messages, anchors are to encourage viewers to send feedback “if you believe our coverage is unfair.” The instructions obtained by CNN stipulate that “corporate will monitor the comments and send replies to your audience on your behalf.”
I saw this message presented on a local Sinclair-owned station here in South Carolina. I wondered what it was about. Now I know. While bashing "national media outlets" for publishing "fake stories," Sinclair intends to do exactly that. It will all be disguised as news and all designed to reinforce Trump and his political supporters.
It is a perversion of local news and should be stopped.