Published: Sat, April 07, 2018
Culture | By Glenn Strickland

Boise's KBOI among Sinclair-owned stations seeing criticism, but Trump's support

Boise's KBOI among Sinclair-owned stations seeing criticism, but Trump's support

President Donald Trump on Monday praised the Sinclair Broadcast Group amid criticism that it forces its news anchors across the country to read pro-Trump propaganda on their shows.

The company, which owns 193 local stations across the United States, drew criticism for what some saw as a forced message that undermined the independence of the news organizations.

Timothy Burke, a video editor at Deadspin, said he read a CNN story last month about the script being sent to local stations and contacted a media monitoring service to collect examples of the statement being read on the air.

Sinclair again has shown how corporate control of local news can be unsafe for democracy.

Sinclair is the largest owner of local TV stations in the United States, but it's not just its size that makes it influential, it's also how the USA audience views local news compared to other media.

Scott Livingston, the company's senior vice president of news, directed stations to have anchors read a script about "fake stories" and "personal bias" plaguing the media, according to a memo obtained by CNNMoney.

With roughly 85 percent of Americans trusting their local news stations over their family or friends for news updates, Karr told Kiriakou that the majority of Sinclair viewers don't even know that their favorite channels are owned by the corporation.

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The president came to the company's defense Monday, since they're a big cheerleader for him.

"The new scripted "fake news" segment caused a lot of anguish where I work", one Sinclair journalist told the Huffington Post, which published a report on Tuesday detailing how the company strictly monitors its employees' "editorial activities".

Livingston told The New York Times a year ago that they "work very hard to be objective and fair and be in the middle". We reported some weeks ago that this was coming, and the story gained fresh attention in recent days when Deadspin collected video of anchor after anchor after anchor reading from the same script. "The "Fakers" at CNN, NBC, ABC & CBS have done so much dishonest reporting that they should only be allowed to get awards for fiction!" he wrote Tuesday.

Sinclair's stations are mostly located in small or mid-sized cities, like Norfolk, Virginia and Wichita, Kansas.

There has been no immediate comment from Sinclair.

This was a chilling reminder of what happens to local news sources when a large media group has a stranglehold on power and a political agenda. The anchors don't mention that inside their newsrooms, journalists have felt uncomfortable because their integrity is being undercut by a corporation seeking to expand its reach by buying Tribune Media.

Naturally, people were not happy with the blatant silencing of the freedom of the press. Sinclair employs Boris Ephshteyn, a former Trump aide, as its chief political analyst.

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