"I felt like a POW recording a message," said a local news anchor when their right wing bosses at Sinclar forced them to read a script of Trump talking points on air. Back in 2016 Sinclair news struck a deal with Trump, trading intimate access for flattering coverage. In return, Trump’s appointees to the FCC wiped away laws preventing Sinclar’s giant merger, allowing them to own TV stations and newspapers in the same markets. What could possibly go wrong?
Trust is often not even earned, people just give it freely. Back in ye olden days, I would sit on the fuzzy yellow carpet listening the local news caster’s syrupy schtick and believed every word of it. Seeing her at the local movie theater made me trust her even more; after all, there she was, a real live person in our midst. I’ve outgrown the belief that local newscasters are more honest, but a Pew study shows that most Americans still believe. Now the arbiters of hairspray and corny kitten adoptions are being forced to act as mouthpieces for partisan propaganda benefiting Trump.
Sinclair Broadcast Group is owned by the benignly named Smith family, conservative multimillionaires whose local news stations will reach 70% of American households after their latest acquisition. Their stations are required to broadcast commentary from former Trump spokesman Boris Epshteyn and a segment called the “Terrorism Alert Desk,” which is just as bad as it sounds. This partisan propaganda has been going on for a year, but internal documents show They are about to push the owner’s agenda even further.
Local news directors are being given a script to follow exactingly that calls out national media outlets and claims they publish “fake stories...using their platforms to push their own personal bias.” The conservative bosses are telling the trusted local Jasons and Jennifers to air the segments as often as possible, “to create maximum reach and frequency.” The anchors who leaked the internal documents to CNN weren’t happy, "At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it," said one, another called it manipulative and a third anchor mentioned earlier, felt like a POW.
Creepy. When asked to comment, Scott Livingston the Sinclair Vice President of news told CNN that this is perfectly normal. When he sent them a copy of the script though, he had changed the bashing from “national news sources” to “some news sources.”
So, who are these spineless anchors who complain but seem to still cooperate? Can they maybe twitch their eye during filming to undermine the message? Or, I don’t know, quit?
By Being Liberal contributor: Sarah Ficca