Turn on the television, grab your coffee and cozy up to watch the news before bedtime. Thanks to the U.S. Constitution and the 1st Amendment of said document, you can be assured that your favourite newscasters are free to bring you a relatively fact-based newscast and you will come away informed and enlightened, right? Well, guess what, folks … we have, once again, been duped. By whom, you ask? That is a question with more than one answer, but let us start with the nefarious campaign to elect Donald Trump in 2016. And from there, we move on to the nation’s largest operator of local television stations, Sinclair Broadcast Group, operating 193 stations in over 100 cities.
What links the Trump campaign and Sinclair? According to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, the campaign and Sinclair struck a deal whereby Sinclair would be given extended access to Trump in exchange for Sinclair-owned stations broadcasting all speeches by Trump sans commentary. In other words, unlike CNN and others, no criticism allowed. In and of itself, this may not seem like such a big deal, but …
One of Sinclair’s stations, an ABC-affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle, Washington, tells us Sinclair is forcing its reporters to air pre-scripted segments about fake news media, in an attempt to undermine non-Sinclair stations. Below is the script that was sent to all stations to be read on air:
Hi, I’m(A) ____________, and I’m (B) _________________…
(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our Northwest communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that KOMO News produces.
(A) But we’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.
(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.
(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’…This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.
(B) At KOMO it’s our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left nor right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.
(A) But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to KOMOnews.com and clicking on CONTENT CONCERNS. We value your comments. We will respond back to you.
(B) We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual… We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.
(A) Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback.
Some of it actually sounds fair, sounds like the right thing to say, but it gives the appearance that they and only they are the ones trying to provide honest and unbiased reporting. Knowing that they have an agreement to present Trump and his agenda in a most favourable light makes me question their actual intent. We have all asked ourselves how it is that the 37% or so that still say Trump is doing a good job can actually believe it. I have put forth a number of theories over the past year or more, ranging from lack of education, apathy, selfishness, ignorance, etc. But in light of this story, I have done some thinking. I have sufficient time to spend several hours a day trolling the news, checking and double checking to make sure I understand and have the facts straight. But most people don’t have that luxury. When I still worked 10-12 hour days, I didn’t have time. At 11:00 each night, I watched the news on my local station and really had no choice but to rely on them to give me correct facts and tell me what I needed to know. That was all the time I could spare, that half-hour. The vast majority of people are in that boat today, and what they are being fed is not always the truth, not always unbiased. I have always known Fox News was biased, leaned heavily conservative … how could it be otherwise with Rupert Murdoch at the helm. But I’ve long had a fair amount of trust in the “Big Three” – ABC, NBC, CBS. I now know that trust was misplaced. Of the stations owned by Sinclair, 33 are ABC affiliates, 27 are CBS, and 22 are NBC. 43 are Fox affiliates. You can find which of your local stations are owned by Sinclair here.
Sinclair regularly runs disinformation segments favorable to President Trump and packaged as actual political analysis and news coverage. Sinclair is currently awaiting approval on its proposed purchase of Tribune Media, which owns or operates 42 broadcast television stations in 33 markets, according to its official FCC filing. If the purchase is approved, Sinclair will be able to broadcast to at least 70 percent of American households.
Take a look at this John Oliver clip addressing Sinclair and it’s schemes:
The Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, but it does not guarantee that the press will operate with integrity. It is up to We The People to hold the media outlets accountable, to find ways to verify, to confirm what they tell us, and to call them out when they get it wrong, ultimately finding other sources if amends and changes are not made. WE are the customers and WE must demand they provide unbiased, straight journalism. With Trump’s handpicked Ajit Pai serving as director of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), we can no longer afford to wait for the FCC to deal with this situation, as they once would have. Today, with the Internet, we have a vast amount of information literally at our fingertips, but sometimes there is so much that it is difficult to know what to believe. I find it unconscionable that any media outlet would be willing to support the agenda of a single political group or individual to the exclusion of others. They are letting us down and frankly they are making a mockery of the 1st amendment.