Press: Sinclair Broadcast Group is real ‘fake news’

Press: Sinclair Broadcast Group is real ‘fake news’
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Move over, Fox News. You are no longer the biggest embarrassment in the media. You have ceded the crown to the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Sinclair’s not as well-known as Fox, NBC, CBS or ABC, of course, but it’s still a powerful force. In fact, with 193 television stations, it’s the biggest TV broadcaster in the country, and with a known conservative bent.

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But last week Sinclair made headlines of its own in a move that should concern anybody who believes in democracy and a free and independent press. Sinclair forced its anchors on every station to read a screed from headquarters warning about “fake news.” Check out the video montage released by Deadspin, showing dozens of them, on cue, mouthing the same message, word for word, like wound-up robots.

“We’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country,” they monotone. “The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.” Yes! We can all agree on that. Unfiltered social media cannot be trusted as a news source.

But then they continue: “Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think. This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.” Yes, again! But that’s exactly what Sinclair is doing: using 193 local television stations to push their own right-wing political agenda —and that’s dangerous to our democracy.

In 2016, Sinclair, in a deal heralded by Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump tweets raise questions about why Manafort jury isn't sequestered The Hill's Morning Report — Trump showcases ICE ahead of midterm elections Axios: Trump said one-state solution would mean future Israeli PM would be named Mohammed MORE, ordered its stations to run more favorable stories about candidate Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE. Today, they feed stations “must-run” commentaries by former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn. They also force them to air right-wing “documentaries” on conspiracies like the “deep state” and voice warnings about “fake news.” This is not journalism. This is pure propaganda.

What Sinclair’s doing is even more troubling because, in most markets, Sinclair is the stealth owner. When you tune in to a Fox, NBC or CNN station, you know what you’re getting. Not so with Sinclair stations. You might think you’re tuning into the local news: like WJLA in Washington, D.C.; KCVU in Redding, Calif.; or KSNV in Las Vegas. But you’re not. You’re unknowingly tuning into Sinclair. You think that’s your local anchor, giving her opinion. But she’s not. Like a hostage, she’s just mouthing words she’s been required to read by Sinclair management.

And things are about to get even worse. Not content with owning more TV stations than anyone else, Sinclair’s now trying to expand even further. In addition to the 193 stations they already own, they’ve petitioned the friendly Trump Federal Communications Commission to acquire 42 more — including Chicago’s mighty WGN-TV, “Chicago’s Very Own” — which would enable Sinclair to reach 72 percent of American households.

Goodbye, honest, independent, fair and factual TV news. Which is exactly what  Donald Trump wants. With Fox News already in hand, and a soon-to-be expanded Sinclair Broadcast Group, Trump’s that much closer to his goal: if not a state-owned media, at least an exclusively state-controlled and state-friendly media. Vladimir Putin would be proud.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “From the Left: Life in the Crossfire.”