Sinclair: How it promotes its agenda
Trust me, Sinclair Broadcast Group is just as sinister as it looks, said Aaron Weiss in HuffingtonPost.com. I was briefly a news director with Sinclair, which, the country learned last week, ordered news anchors working at its 193 local television stations to all read the same Trumpian script denouncing “fake stories” and rampant media bias. The company, which is owned by wealthy Republican donors, has actually been forcing local anchors to read dictated political propaganda for years. In 2004, it forced its stations to run an anti–John Kerry “Swift Boat” documentary just before the presidential election. Nevertheless, when I joined a Sinclair-owned station in 2013, I was shocked by just how blatantly the company pushes stories that, if they ran in other countries, “we would rightly dismiss as state propaganda.” That’s why I, and many other journalists, have quit the company.
The “paranoid freak-out” over Sinclair is unwarranted, said Jonah Goldberg in USA Today. Sinclair’s warning about “one-sided news” wasn’t “Orwellian propaganda.” It was the kind of self-serving corporate ad copy that media companies spout all the time, such as the Washington Post’s hyperbolic Trump-era slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Sinclair’s sole sin is having “the wrong bias,” said David Harsanyi in NationalReview.com. The company is hardly alone in promoting “openly partisan journalism.” Supposedly objective CNN, for example, has engaged in “a full-blown push for gun control.” If you prefer a liberal slant, change the channel.
But Sinclair hides its biases in insidious ways, said Dylan Matthews in Vox.com. Unlike Fox News or MSNBC, Sinclair programming comes to people on local television channels affiliated with major networks like ABC, NBC, or CNN. Many of these stations’ news programs and their journalists have spent years building credibility within their communities. Millions of viewers “have no idea that they’re watching conservative editorials rather than normal local news.” Sinclair’s pro-Trump agenda has to be seen to be believed, said Erik Wemple in The Washington Post. “Political analyst” Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump campaign aide, produces nine commentaries a week that Sinclair stations must run. Epshteyn has denied there is any “chaos” in the administration and insists accurate reporting on Trump’s troubles is nothing but biased fiction. This is “gaslighting,” whose goal is to destroy any sense of objective truth.