As Oliver put it Sunday night, “Nothing says ‘we value independent media’ like dozens of reporters forced to repeat the same message over and over again like a brainwashed cult.”
CNN first reported on the scripted message in early March, noting that despite many anchors’ dismay, the “anchor-delivered journalistic responsibility message” would begin to run on Sinclair stations later in the month. Sinclair has been a subject of concern for many since last year, when Oliver initially covered the conservative company. The company’s political bent and ties to the Trump White House--former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn serves as its chief political analyst—have been a subject of particular concern as the company seeks to acquire Tribune Media. Previous company-wide “must-run” segments have included pieces on the “Deep State” as well as commentary from Epshteyn. Sinclair has also been accused of using its connections within the Trump administration to skirt media consolidation regulations.
The deal also gives Sinclair a minority stake in the Food Network and full ownership of the general entertainment cable channel WGN America. So, even if an all-news cable network isn’t in the works, those channels combined with Sinclair’s massive (and growing) footprint give the broadcaster the opportunity to have much more of a presence on the national stage. But, that possibility is exactly what has Sinclair’s critics concerned that a wider reach will give the company a massive platform to push a conservative political message.
Conservatives and Donald Trump can bleat all they want to about how CNN and the NYT and the Washington Post are fake news but what Sinclair is doing is the real fake news. They are literally forcing local TV stations to run what amount to propaganda pieces that are heavily biased for conservatives and against liberals. The fact that they might soon have access to a majority of American TV stations is frightening.