Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinDemocrats face critical 72 hours Bipartisan lawmakers target judges' stock trading with new bill Manchin: Negotiators to miss Friday target for deal on reconciliation bill MORE (D-Ill.) is asking Sinclair Broadcasting Corporation to reveal whether they mandated local news reporters deliver scripted promotional messages on-air or face punishment for refusing.
Sinclair, the largest television station operator in the United States, is requiring anchors on its local stations read from a corporate script that blasts national media for "using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think" while emphasizing that "truth is neither politically 'left or right.'"
Durbin, in a letter sent to a top Sinclair executive on Wednesday, warned that "this practice not only compromises the ability of local reporters to serve the unique interests of their viewers, but it undercuts the journalistic integrity of local news anchors who are required to deliver corporate-scripted messages, at times without providing a disclaimer of their source.”
According to Durbin, the corporate messages that Sinclair reportedly instructed journalists at its member stations to read “exactly as they are written" also contradict November 2017 claims by Sinclair executives to his office that the company never mandates specific content and always identifies sources.
The senator asked Sinclair executive chairman David Smith to provide him with a statement of the company's policies regarding "Sinclair-produced mandated content for local news anchors."
"Further, please clarify whether there will be employment consequences for personnel at local stations who refuse to deliver the scripted promotional message," Durbin wrote.
Sinclair is known for frequently featuring conservative commentators during their programming. 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 voiced his support of the company this week, backing its claim of widespread bias in mainstream news outlets.