Sinclair Broadcasting Group television stations, including KGAN (CBS 2) and KXFA (Fox 28) in Cedar Rapids, will be running promotional spots for their news broadcasts later this month that denounce other networks for reporting “fake news,” CNN reported on Tuesday.
According to CNN,
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.”
Then the media bashing begins.
“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.”
If the script sounds like something that could have come from the White House, there’s a reason for that.
Sinclair, which controls 173 TV stations around the country, is owned by a politically conservative family that strongly supports Donald Trump. Unlike other media companies, Sinclair requires its stations to broadcast political content generated by its corporate headquarters as part of their news shows. That content has always been of an extremely conservative bent, but it has also echoed White House talking points since President Trump took office in Jan. 2017.
“At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it,” one local news anchor at a Sinclair station told CNN. Another said, “I felt like a POW recording a message.”
The anchors would only speak to CNN on the condition of anonymity, “because they believed they would be fired for speaking out.”
CNN also obtained Sinclair memos containing instructions on how the promos are to be produced and aired.
Stations are told to follow the scripts from Sinclair corporate headquarters “exactly as they are written.” The memos also state, “Talent should dress in jewel tones — however they should not look political in their dress or attire.”
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.
The memos specify that the 60-to-75-second promos should run during newscasts, during time that normally would be devoted to the news, so as not take up any time that can sold for commercials.
Sinclair is already the largest owner of local TV stations in the nation, 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.