Sinclair Broadcasting is being widely condemned for its overtly pro-Trump propaganda, so of course Trump is praising it.
While GOP-friendly Sinclair Broadcasting is being widely ridiculed for its Orwellian move to force local anchors across the country to tape the exact same public service announcement condemning “fake news,” Trump tweeted his support on Monday.
“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.”
Think of Fox News as Trump propaganda TV on a national level and Sinclair as Trump propaganda TV on a local news level.
During the 2016 campaign, the network struck a deal with the Trump campaign to provide more favorable coverage. And this year, it actually urged staffers in company newsrooms to contribute to the company’s political PAC, which represents a blatant conflict of interest.
Meanwhile, when you work for a news organization that Trump is vouching for, you know you’re in trouble, journalistically.
And right now, Sinclair is getting hammered for its creepy decision to demand anchors attack their local news competitors by suggesting they might be peddling dishonesty: “Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think.”
On Monday, as the outcry continued to spread — Deadspin’s Twitter clip has been viewed more than six million times — a news producer at Chicago’s famed WGN-TV, which is currently owned by the Tribune Company, tweeted out defiant message of resistance: “Re: Sinclair – There is NO WAY any of our on-air anchors and reporters will read their scripted messages on our show. Chicago’s Very Own, not owned.”
Speaking of Tribune, Sinclair last year made a $3.9 billion bid to acquire the Tribune Company. If allowed by regulators, the deal would put the company in control of 223 TV stations, a previously unheard of number of outlets for a single television broadcast company to own.
Combined, the stations would give Sinclair access to more than 70 percent of American households, including major market stations in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Note that Sinclair has been deplorable for a long time. Back during the 2004 campaign, it ordered all its stations nationwide to preempt regular programming days before Election Day to air “Stolen Honor,” a highly charged documentary that was critical of Sen. John Kerry.
“I’d be shocked if you could find any other broadcast conduct like this” in the history of American television,” former FCC chairman Reed Hundt said at the time.
Six months before that, Sinclair took the extraordinary step of banning its ABC affiliates from showing a special edition of “Nightline” in which anchor Ted Koppel read the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.
“We find it to be contrary to the public interest,” Sinclair’s general counsel said of the tribute to the American fallen.
In Sinclair, Trump has found a willing partner for his authoritarian ways.