Sinclair Broadcasting's hopes of flooding local news with Trump propaganda is looking at 'almost certain defeat.'
Trump’s Federal Communications Commission, run by Trump’s hand-picked FCC chairman, killed a mega-merger pro-Trump Sinclair Broadcasting had proposed with Tribune Media.
Sinclair was hoping to build up a Republican propaganda empire that would do to local news what Fox News did cable television, but their propaganda dreams were suddenly dashed.
“Sinclair’s deal is headed toward an almost-certain defeat, with that same FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, sending the merger on Monday into an administrative proceeding that is tantamount to a death sentence,” Politico reports.
Sinclair announced it was “shocked and disappointed” by the ruling.
Pai, who did Trump’s bidding last year at the FCC by ramming through the elimination of net neutrality for internet users, reportedly was unhappy with how Sinclair officials proceeded with plans merger and failed to meet FCC requirements along the way.
The results were stunning considering that Trump, in 2017, immediately moved to make sure Sinclair would be able to vastly expand its television empire by having the FCC ease longtime limits on the number of outlets a single company could own.
Having seen Trump’s green light, GOP-friendly Sinclair in May 2017, announced it was going to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion dollars. The gargantuan deal would immediately make Sinclair the largest player in the local news business, which meant its Trump propaganda model would soon go nationwide.
The deal would have put the company in control of 223 TV stations, a previously unheard of number of outlets for a single television broadcast company to own.
The Tribune deal also would have given Sinclair access to major television markets, such as Los Angeles and New York.
As the deal slowly wound its way through the FCC, observers continue to be appalled at the heavy handed way Sinclair so blatantly slanted its political content in an effort to emerge as a sort of local version of Fox News.
That strategy included “must-carry” segments, in which more than 100 own-and-operated Sinclair stations were forced to run Fox-like commentaries where Trump was relentlessly praised, and his critics were often cast as un-American villains.
This spring, Sinclair was widely ridiculed for its Orwellian move to force local anchors across the country to tape the exact same, word-for-word public service announcement condemning “fake news.”
As the criticism spread, Trump quickly signaled his support for Sinclair.
“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,” he tweeted. “Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”
During the 2016 campaign, Sinclair struck a deal with the Trump campaign to provide more favorable coverage. And this year, it urged staffers in company newsrooms to contribute to the company’s political PAC, which represents a blatant conflict of interest for any independent news organization.
Note that Sinclair has been awful for a long time. During the 2004 campaign, it ordered all its stations to preempt regular programming days before Election Day to air “Stolen Honor,” a highly charged documentary that was critical of the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, John Kerry.
Sinclair’s FCC defeat is a victory for democracy.
Published with permission of The American Independent.