The Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) was heavily criticized in a video compiled by Deadspin, for pushing a pro-Trump stance across several local media channels, including messages that warned the public of “fake news” and “personal bias” in news reports.
SBG, which owns more than 170 news channels across the United States, reportedly compelled anchors and reporters to become mouthpieces for right-wing politics by forcing “must-run” segments on their outlets — segments that the management apparently ordered local newscasters to run in-between their scheduled programs. This has led to heated exchanges between the company officials and their employees.
Deadspin compiled a video of different “must-run” conservative promos that different local news outlets were forced to show by SBG, in which all the reporters sounded like robots. The video went viral on Sunday, with many journalists, comedians and other celebrities raising their voice against the company mandate.
The story that SBG was directing news channels under it to run pro-Trump promos was first reported in March by CNN. It was also around the same time that the promos started airing on the news channels.
“Let me be absolutely clear here… These MUST Run. If they do not, my job is on the line. I don’t say that to scare you by any means but I do say this so you understand how serious SBG is about this project,” one anonymous news station producer told employees in an all-newsroom email.
According to a number of employees working for SBG, the reason the company started interfering in news casts and pandering to a specific political ideal could be because of its desperation to obtain Tribune Media, which would make it the owner of dozens of other news channels.
However, Tribune Media is currently under scrutiny by federal regulators and SBG is yet to work out a deal with the Justice Department regarding the number of stations it is required to sell before it can close the deal.
In 2006, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner had struck a deal with SBG to let the company in on the-then GOP candidate’s exclusive scoops if it agreed to run Trump-centric propaganda, the Daily Dot reported.
“It sickens me the way this company is encroaching upon trusted news brands in rural markets,” an investigative reporter at Sinclair said.
Here are reactions from notable personalities on the Deadspin video compilation: