The right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group currently owns 40% of the local news stations in the United States. If they’re allowed to purchase Tribune Media, they’ll be in three quarters of the homes nationwide. They’re also a shameless right-wing propaganda machine hellbent on building a local broadcast network that rival’s Fox News’s cable, radio, and print empire.
Earlier this month, news broke that right-wing Sinclair Media was forcing anchors at their local stations to read a propaganda script attacking mainstream media outlets:
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) March 7, 2018
Well, the promos have been recorded and it’s just as terrifying as you’d expect:
You don’t need the audio for the full effect, but it’s worth untangling your headphones for because it’s bone-chilling.
The text of the original script the stations were sent reads:
“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. 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. We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left or right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.”
Twitter is as terrified as they should be about the looming threat of actual, honest-to-god propaganda:
A chorus of local news reporters reading, word-for-word, from the same Sinclair script to attack the media and defend the President. This is not what an independent media looks like. pic.twitter.com/7QEEE9ltUK
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) March 31, 2018
"we're concerned about one-sided stories" they all said, reading from the same script https://t.co/iRg7oaJCj5
— jordan (@JordanUhl) March 31, 2018
Podcast host and activist Dan Savage is calling for a boycott from the local Seattle station:
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) March 31, 2018
And he’s on the right track. The parent company literally wrote a script attacking other media outlets and forced anchors to read it. In doing so, they positioned these anchors as the sole arbiters of what’s “True,” but as the video demonstrates that “Truth” will be determined in the corporate offices and of Sinclair Media.
The instructions issued to Sinclair stations mentioned that the scripts had been “thoroughly tested” and they coordinated the stagecraft of the promos down to the dress of their anchors:
“Avoid total red, blue and purples dresses and suits. Avoid totally red, blue and purple ties, the goal is to look apolitical, neutral, nonpartisan yet professional. Black or charcoal suits for men…females should wear yellow, gold, magenta, cyan, but avoid red, blue or purple.”
And these aren’t just going to run once, these are part of a campaign. The instructions from Sinclair said the media-bashing promos should run often “to create maximum reach and frequency.”
If you think the script itself sounds innocuous and bipartisan, you’re not familiar with the rest of Sinclair’s “news” programs. They force all of their local affiliates to air “must-run” editorials from former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn aide at the end of every show. His inaccurate segments frequently bash mainstream media outlets like CNN and the Washington Post, echoing the president’s claims of “fake news.”
Another recent “must-run” segment featured former Trump advisor and current right-wing conspiracy theorist Seb Gorka attacking the FBI and Department of Justice for investigating President Trump as part of a “deep state” plot. It was produced by a woman who used to work for RT, the Russian propaganda network in the United States. (Yes, really.)
Local TV news chain Sinclair literally hired someone from the Russian propaganda outlet RT to produce a story on "the Deep State." It ran on Seattle TVs during the KOMO 6 o'clock news. (Sinclair owns KOMO).
Again, Sinclair owns local TV stations in 40% of U.S. cities pic.twitter.com/D0LCQ6r64i
— Mike Rosenberg (@ByRosenberg) March 30, 2018
These promos draw a straight line from the “unbiased” news to the must-run pro-Trump propaganda from Sinclair. Specifically, they lend the credibility of the news team to their right-wing attacks undermining other media outlets.
By forcing their anchors to read a statement condemning “fake news,” they’re siphoning off the newsroom’s integrity and objectivity to fuel a pro-Trump propaganda machine. The real news—the news Sinclair won’t report—is that 40% of local news viewers in the United States can no longer trust their stations for accurate reporting. Sinclair should be ashamed of themselves.