A new video compilation shined a light on the "must-run" news practices of Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of approximately 170 local news stations nationwide. In the video, multiple local newscasters can be seen reading the same story verbatim about the battle against "fake stories" and "false news" -- a common cry of President Trump -- which raised alarm bells in Hollywood and beyond.
"Some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control 'exactly what people think'," reads the script as acquired by Seattle PI. "This is extremely dangerous to a democracy."
And yet, many on Twitter felt that this is exactly what Sinclair was doing by forcing its anchors to read this and other stories with a conservative bias. On March 21, Sinclair broadcasters were required to read a story written by the parent company on the so-called "Deep State," and this is nothing new. In 2004, the company fired a reporter for speaking out against stations being forced to air what he believed was a propaganda film against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, according to CNN.
This latest story could be seen as these Sinclair-owned local stations getting out in front of this "fake news" narrative by implying that they aren't a part of the problem, it's those other (non-Sinclair) stations. In other words, it's setting the stage for a media war.
John Oliver did an extended segment on Sinclair's business practices on his HBO series "Last Week Tonight" last year, which you can see below. In it, he spotlighted the company's practice of forcing local newscasters to read stories manufactured at its corporate headquarters that would seem to push a conservative agenda.
He brought this up to make people aware of the company's propaganda-like techniques even as they continued their efforts to acquire Tribune Media, which would see the number of Sinclair stations grow to include 70 percent of the national television market. That move needs FCC approval, but recent actions there would seem to indicate this shouldn't be too large of a hurdle.
As the video began to make the rounds late Saturday night and into Sunday morning, more and more politically-minded celebrities, media personalities and general citizens were sounding the alarms that this is not okay, and it's certainly not what an independent media in a true democracy looks like. See some of their most passionate responses below.
🔥🔥Sinclair broadcasting, right wing local media giant, hired a reporter from Russian propaganda outlet RT. She produced a segment on the deep state featuring Gorka that all stations were forced to play.https://t.co/pbaz1e3qJn
It's not just FoxNews to worry about. Sinclair Broadcasting Network which owns more local stations than any media company in the US. Sinclair, also a pro-Trump/GOP network has instructed news anchors (company wide) to denounce 'Fake (REAL) News' onair to support the GOP agenda.
FCC is about to approve the merger that will give Sinclair Media control over local news channels that reach 70% of the US population. Currently, they reach 40%. The FCC won't do anything to stop this under Adjit Pai. He's enabling it.
Sinclair Broadcast Group has an unprecedented amount of power over our news, controlling programs nationwide. If you don't want the equivalent of far-right state-run media, then check out this list and RT for others. https://t.co/3YTryCilH7
How do we battle Sinclair Media? How do we stop the complete gaslighting of middle America by their local news stations? I'm gonna need someone of honor to buy Fox or start buying up the local stations @Oprah @TomSteyer @WarrenBuffett #SomeOneSaveUs
Coming from the same paid source, Sinclair Media, these stations are owned by a Republican media group, they are forced to state these opinions to make it appear that it's coming from your local Newsman but really from a Sinclair central. It's indoctrination, a con job. pic.twitter.com/BuOtKReAux
When you add this together with the expansion of Sinclair Broadcasting to 72% share of the market and Sinclair requiring specific wording from all of their newscasters -- we have a BIG problem brewing. State run media is here.