In what it is billing an "anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message", Sinclair is forcing local news stations to air a spot that reeks of pro-Trump rhetoric, including the terms 'false news' and 'fake stories'.
The promos are supposed to start airing on local stations later this month. The instructions sent to station news directors say that the 60- and 75-second spots should run frequently "to create maximum reach and frequency."
But journalists are uneasy about reading the script aloud on air:
[T]he staffers who shared the documents with CNN say the promos are inappropriate -- yet another corporate infringement on local journalism.
"At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it," a local anchor said. The person insisted on anonymity because they believed they would be fired for speaking out.
Other local anchors also said the promos were a source of dismay in their newsrooms.
Sinclair informed all stations that the spot must run during 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."
But after this, the tone changes.
"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."
Considering the flack Sinclair has taken for tilting noticeably right, the word choice in its promo is interesting to say the least.
At the end of the promo, viewers are encouraged to send in feedback "if you believe our coverage is unfair."
The instructions say that "corporate will monitor the comments and send replies to your audience on your behalf."
In other words, local stations are cut out of the interactions with viewers. Management will handle it instead.