Sinclair Broadcast Group chairman David Smith defended his company against criticism stemming from its use of so-called must-run segments, in which anchors at dozens of its stations were made to read a script warning of media bias from other news outlets.
In an email exchange with The New York Times, Smith argued that must-runs are "standard practice in the industry," pointing to late-night shows that networks air on their local television affiliates.
“You cant be serious!” Smith wrote. “Do you understand that as a practical matter every word that comes out of the mouths of network news people is scripted and approved by someone?”
Sinclair has faced mounting criticism since the sports news website Deadspin posted a video compilation on Saturday, showing dozens of anchors at Sinclair stations reading the same script, in which they voiced concern "about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country."
Sinclair, the country's largest broadcaster, has faced scrutiny in the past for using must-run segments to push a conservative-leaning agenda, including requiring its local television stations to run segments featuring its chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn, a former spokesman for President TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE.
Smith told the Times that making local affiliates air segments isn't unusual while saying that late-night comedy shows are really "just late-night political so-called comedy."
"Not that you would print it, but do you understand that every local TV station is required to ‘must run’ from its network their content, and they don’t own me," he wrote. "That would be all their news programming and other shows such as late-night talk, which is just late-night political so-called comedy."
Trump gave his own take on the Sinclair matter on Monday, saying that the broadcast company was "far superior" to networks like CNN.
"So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased," Trump tweeted. "Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke."
So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018
The president has often lashed out at news organizations that cover his administration critically while praising outlets that he views as promoting his presidency and his viewpoints.