Sinclair Broadcast Group is reportedly requiring local news anchors at TV stations it owns to recite pre-written promotional spots disavowing the national media’s “fake stories” and “personal bias” ― some of President Donald Trump’s favorite punchlines.
Sinclair, one of the biggest owners of local TV stations in the U.S., with 193 outlets in 89 markets, sent scripts of the promos to news directors, instructing that they be produced “exactly as they are written,” according to CNN.
“I’m [we are] concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country,” the spot begins. “The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media. 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.”
It concludes that reporting facts ― which are neither “left nor right” ― is their duty as journalists. All Sinclair stations had to run an almost identical segment last year as well, The New York Times reported.
“I felt like a POW recording a message,” one anchor at a Sinclair-owned station told CNN.
Sinclair has a history of advancing a conservative agenda. Another recent iteration of right-wing bias came in the form of a requirement that its stations air pro-Trump segments featuring Boris Epshteyn (a former Trump White House official) nine times per week.
The media giant is trying to expand its reach in major cities with a proposed deal to acquire 42 stations currently owned by Tribune Media.
“You should find out who owns your local station and bear that in mind as you watch,” HBO’s John Oliver warned in a segment devoted to Sinclair that aired last summer.
Sinclair did not immediately respond to a request for comment.