Speed Reads


John Oliver offers context for the creepily surreal video of local Sinclair TV anchors warning about 'fake' news in unison

John Oliver updates his Sinclair Broadcast story

Last year, Last Week Tonight's John Oliver dedicated 20 minutes to Sinclair Broadcast Group, "the most influential media company that you've never heard of," with a notable conservative bent and a penchant for sending its 170 local stations — a number soon to expand significantly, if its proposed acquisition of Tribune Media is approved — "must run" commentary and other segments. Notably, Sinclair hired Boris Epshteyn, a lawyer and campaign surrogate for President Trump, to provide reliably pro-Trump, must-run hot takes.

"Recently, Sinclair took their game to a new level," Oliver said in a brief update Sunday night. "Because a few weeks back, a script leaked for a statement they wanted local anchors to deliver, warning that national media outlets were publishing 'fake' stories — which was echoing one of Trump's favorite talking points." Deadspin compiled a bunch of those clips in a creepily surreal video that went viral over the weekend, and Oliver played a taste. "Yeah, nothing says 'we value independent media' like dozens of reporters forced to repeat the same message over and over again like members of a brainwashed cult," he said. He ended by pulling a Boris Epshteyn on Sinclair. The clip is decidedly NSFW in parts, so watch below at your own risk. Peter Weber