Sinclair Broadcast Group, a network of television stations that has already shown themselves to be a Trump propaganda arm, is about to massively expand its ability to broadcast, thanks to Donald Trump's FCC.
A network of television stations with a history of feeding their audiences a steady diet of pro-Republican, pro-Trump propaganda is about to experience a significant expansion, increasing their ability to spread their one-sided message from coast to coast.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, which already owns a massive amount of local television stations across the country, is making an expansion bid through the purchase of Tribune Media in a deal worth $3.9 billion. For the deal to go through, Sinclair will require approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — which, under Donald Trump, will most likely be a rubber stamp.
When the deal is approved, Sinclair will own 223 television stations in 108 media markets, with a footprint in 39 of the top 50 markets, giving it the ability to send its message to 72 percent of American households.
Giving this type of broadcast power to Sinclair is troubling, as it will help to fulfill one of Trump's authoritarian dreams: A television network devoted to him and his exclusionary message.
The New York Times reports that even before the merger, Sinclair operates like something out of an authoritarian dystopia. Heads of the network, located in Hunt Valley, MD, send out video packages to local stations labeled "must run." These video segments, which run during the news on Sinclair-owned stations to hide their true intent, are right-wing propaganda and disinformation pieces.
The Times notes the content of these segments:
During the election campaign last year, it sent out a package that suggested in part that voters should not support Hillary Clinton because the Democratic Party was historically pro-slavery. More recently, Sinclair asked stations to run a short segment in which Scott Livingston, the company’s vice president for news, accused the national news media of publishing “fake news stories.”
Sinclair has a history of promoting the Republican Party through its local television stations. During the 2004 presidential election, when then-Senator John Kerry challenged President George W. Bush, Sinclair took Bush's side and hijacked the airwaves to broadcast an anti-Kerry documentary in order to smear his military record.
Since that event, Sinclair has developed significant ties to Trump. Politico reported that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and now a senior aide in his White House, had "struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage."
In exchange for access to the Trump team, "Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary," meaning their lies, misstatements, and other smears would air on the network without being challenged or fact-checked.
Kushner reportedly bragged that Sinclair's outsized presence in markets like Ohio, which went for Trump, would help them reach a larger audience there than even an international network like CNN.
The Trump administration rewards those who demonstrate loyalty to Trump, and they have shown that in spades. Sinclair now has the opportunity to operate as his digital mouthpiece across most of America, and he is near certain to give them the thumbs up, while waging war against free speech rights of those who challenge him.
In the ongoing information war, Trump and Sinclair are poised to go nuclear.