Sinclair Forces Local Affiliates To Send Right Wing Message

Ken AshfordRight Wing and Inept MediaLeave a Comment

Sinclair is already the biggest owner of local television stations in the country — with 173 it either owns or operates. It is seeking a merger with Tribune Media, which will give Sinclair access to dozens more markets.  If the purchase is approved, Sinclair will be able to broadcast to at least 70 percent of American households.

Some analysts believe Sinclair wants to rival Fox News, although officials at Sinclair have rejected those suggestions.

The FCC is currently reviewing the Tribune deal. Sinclair critics — Democratic lawmakers and some of the company’s Republican rivals — have alleged that the FCC has given Sinclair preferential treatment.

This all came to the fore this weekend, as local Sinclair Stations were required — required — to make promos decrying “fake stories” from national news outlets.  Internal documents call the new initiative an “anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message.”

But the staffers who talked about it said it 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.

Deadspin did a service by putting these promos together in this now-viral video:

The script, as transcribed by ThinkProgress based on the KOMO (Seattle) version, reads:

Hi, I’m(A) ____________, and I’m (B) _________________…

(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our Northwest communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that KOMO News produces.

(A) But we’re 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.

(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.

(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’…This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.

(B) At KOMO it’s our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left nor right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.

(A) But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to and clicking on CONTENT CONCERNS. We value your comments. We will respond back to you.

(B) We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual… We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.

(A) Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback.

For a list of stations owned or operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, check here

On its face, some of the language is not controversial. But that’s precisely why some staffers were so troubled by it. The promo script, they say, belies Sinclair management’s actual agenda to tilt reporting to the right.

“I felt like a POW recording a message,” one of the anchors said.

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.”

The promo requirements are the latest reason why some Sinclair journalists are upset with the company’s Maryland-based management. In recent years Sinclair’s owners, the Smith family, have made several programming decisions that reflect a right-wing agenda.

You might remember Sinclair from its having been featured on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight last year, or from its requiring in 2004 of affiliates to air anti-John Kerry propaganda, or perhaps because it’s your own local affiliate running inflammatory “Terrorism Alerts” or required editorials from former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, he of the famed Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that failed to mention Jewish people. (Sinclair also owns Ring of Honor wrestling, Tennis magazine, and the Tennis Channel.)

With all that in mind, these mandated promos show how the company wants to position itself in local markets from coast to coast.

“Spectrum News on ABC 45” is the local Winston-Salem-Greensboro-High Point affiliate.