Sinclair could bring its 'fake news' crusade to a Dallas station soon

Hugh Fox
April 6, 2018

The president tweeted, "So amusing to watch fake news networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased".

If the deal is approved, Sinclair would reach 72 percent of American households.

Sinclair, already the biggest TV news broadcaster in the US, has 193 television stations and a deal to acquire an additional 42 from Tribune Media, which owns outlets KTLA in Los Angeles, WPIX in NY and WGN in Chicago. They all say they are "concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country".

Ron Gardner, who served as anchor at KBOI from 1995-2000 when the station operated as KBCI, has been particularly outspoken about the script on social media.

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The controversial promo has run on Sinclair stations across the country and includes Trump-sounding bits such as "national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without checking facts first". "We seek the truth and strive to be fair". When it comes to being discerning consumers of news, let us live every day like it's April Fool's Day. Sinclair broadcast 15 "exclusive" interviews with Trump but zero with Hillary Clinton. "At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it", one anchor told CNN. On Monday, other news media outlets began reporting on the backlash, though outlets like CNN had reported on the promotional campaign as early as March 7.

Mary Nam, an anchor at Sinclair's Seattle station KOMO-TV, took a shot at Trump and her own employer after the president suggested that the matter is a "total joke".

Trump's FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai, has rolled back protections that would prevent the merger, including a limit to the number of stations a company can own in the media market. And as Politico reports, last December Jared Kushner was openly bragging about striking a deal between Sinclair and the Trump campaign.

The Columbia Journalism Review characterized Sinclair's policies of influencing local stations as an "Orwellian attack on the press". The Terrorism Alert Desk about security threats around the world is another regular feature. The owner of 193 local TV stations is in the news for what it made newscasters say. Simmons cited the recent controversial promos Sinclair aired last month, which used language akin to Donald Trump's "fake news" rhetoric to bash media organizations, as a contributing factor in his departure.

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An all-newsroom email from one station news director read: "Let me be absolutely clear here..." Last year, the Federal Communications Committee slapped Sinclair with a $13.4 million fine for not properly identifying some content as ads, including news stories on a cancer foundation that were paid for by the foundation.

The back and forth has put a focus on Sinclair's size and how it handles local broadcasting - reigniting a debate that has been going on for more than a year.

For WJAC 6 News in Johnstown, general manager Jim Doty declined to comment and referred questions to Sinclair's corporate office.

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