Imagine if a giant media company carefully and meticulously began buying television stations all across the country, changing their programming and taking a particularly conservative, pro-Trump stance as they required all of their affiliates to run right-wing commentary segments—including commentary by former advisers of Donald Trump.
This is essentially what is happening with Sinclair Broadcast Group, the company that bought WGN and promptly took our beloved Underground off the air.
Sinclair owns almost 200 TV stations across the country, more than any other media company. The company is in the process of purchasing Tribune Media for $3.9 billion. That acquisition would give Sinclair control of 14 Fox, 12 CW, six CBS, three ABC, two NBC, three MyNetworkTV affiliates and two independent stations.
Why should any of this concern you?
Because, as our sister site Deadspin reported Saturday, Sinclair is using its media acquisitions to turn local television anchors “into soldiers in Trump’s war on the media.”
All over the country, people who went to school to study journalism are being forced to attack their chosen profession in recorded promos that discuss “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.”
Pay attention, people, because it’s not just coming from Fox News any longer.
The script for the promos, shared by Deadspin, goes something like this version from KOMO in Seattle, transcribed by ThinkProgress:
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.
This type of thing is dangerous, and it’s only going to get worse as Sinclair continues to acquire more stations across the country.
If you need an illustration of how this looks, check out the video Deadspin put together of anchors across the country reciting the script in unison:
You can find a list of the stations and brands that Sinclair owns here.
If you needed proof that this is a real thing that is really happening, your president got on Twitter to speak in defense of Sinclair: