Update: The original Deadspin video was removed from YouTube by the user. The CNN segment below contains a clip of the viral video.
Local TV news anchors Jeneé Ryan and Mitch Fick appear in a video that has gone viral, but neither one is likely to be happy about it. The pair, who appear on Cedar Rapids stations KGAN (CBS 2) and KXFA (Fox 28), are featured in a supercut of news anchors from stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group all reading from the same script, denouncing other networks for reporting “fake news.”
On Saturday, Timothy Burke of Deadspin published the video of the promo spots with Sinclair anchors, including Ryan and Fick, reading the script. There was no shortage to choose from, because Sinclair is the largest owner of local television stations in the county.
CNN broke the news of the mandate from Sinclair executives requiring local stations to produce the promos written at the corporate headquarters. It was just the latest effort by Sinclair to inject content that echoes statements from the Trump White House into its news programs. Unlike other media companies that own local TV stations, Sinclair requires its stations to broadcast certain news show segments. The segments, which are known as “must-runs,” uniformly follow right-wing political talking points,
CNN obtained a memo Sinclair executives sent to stations along with the promo script. It stated the scripts had to be read “exactly as they are written.” It even specified how the new anchors should dress: “Talent should dress in jewel tones — however they should not look political in their dress or attire.”
The Maryland-based corporation is owned by politically conservative members of the Sinclair family, and has been supportive of Donald Trump since he was a candidate. Following the election, Jared Kushner boasted during a speech to business executives that the Trump campaign, which Kushner helped run, struck a deal with Sinclair executives to guarantee favorable news coverage on its stations. In return, Sinclair stations would receive exclusive sit-down interviews with Trump. Sinclair executives denied any deal was struck, but its stations did provide favorable coverage, and the interviews did occur.
Little Village emailed Becky Lutgen Gardner, the news director for both KGAN, which Sinclair owns, and KXFA, which Sinclair operates, for comment on the participation of both stations in mass recitation of the corporate script, but has not received a reply.
The Deadspin video has received wide attention on social media, and on Monday, the nation’s leading tweeter felt the need to comment.
So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018
Sinclair currently owns or operates 173 local TV stations, and is in the process of buying most of the 42 stations owned by Tribune Media. The combined Sinclair and Tribune stations would reach approximately 72 percent of American households.
The Federal Communications Commission has not yet given final approval to the sale.