How it pro­motes its agenda

The Week (US) - - News 17 -

Trust me, Sin­clair Broad­cast Group is just as sin­is­ter as it looks, said Aaron Weiss in Huff­in­g­ton 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 self­serv­ing 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 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.

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