Not Done With Sinclair Broadcasting

Sinclair_Broadcast-Tribune_Media_big WaPo

Sinclair is just getting started on its pro-Trump agenda

People who are not upset about Sinclair Broadcasting are probably not in a market where Sinclair is broadcasting. An article at reason.com, a Libertarian and right wing web site tells us we have no reason to fear Sinclair, that Sinclair never owns the majority of local stations in a given area. My market is in central New York, with Syracuse as the largest city in Onondaga County although the market includes towns and villages in several other counties. Sinclair now produces local news on 3 of our 4 major local channels. Nexstar, another less invasive Conservative media business operates our one local news channel not owned by Sinclair. Conservatives could conceivably control locals news on ABC, the CW, NBC, and CBS networks. Sinclair controls local programming on the last three named networks.

You may be tired of hearing me drone on about this, but I am sick at heart that this is happening in my hometown. The segments Sinclair inserts into our local broadcasts are not fair and balanced. Sinclair skews its national news on local news reports to back Trump. They are guilty of the very things they accuse others of doing in that shocking statement they force news people to read. In other words they are lying to us.

Sinclair echoes Fox but on the local news

Syracuse, and central New York, is one of those places hit hard by economic change. In the small towns and villages around Syracuse people already watch Fox “News” day and night. These residents have elected representatives to Congress who vote 90-100% of the time with Trump and the GOP. Now their local news repeats the same lies and uses the trust we have in local news to back up the lies they hear on Fox “News” and Fox opinions become fixed as absolute facts. In that Deadspin video you heard how local news people implied that since they tell the “real” news, other sources that disagree with them are fake. People who watch Fox believe this stuff. They don’t see through it.

Our Congress people refuse to meet with their constituents if they are not Trumpers. They will not hold free and open town hall meetings. They will not vote against what the Trumpers want unless voting for something could cause them to lose an election. They voted for those tax cuts which I swear will come back to “bite the middle class in the butt.”

Conservative’s Goal is to Discredit any News that Does Not Lean Right

It seems that there is a concerted effort by Conservatives to push media sources that lean left out of the media entirely. The Koch brothers approve of this (they just bought Time, Inc.) and support it by using their influence to lower barriers at the FCC and in the courts. Sinclair may have nothing like a monopoly but they own enough local news stations in enough key areas to influence the 2018 election. Here is the owner of Sinclair telling us what he thinks of mainstream news.

“David Smith, the executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group, said he dislikes and fundamentally distrusts the print media, which he believes “serves no real purpose.” In emails to New York, Smith said that print — as in newspapers and magazines — is a reality-distorting tool of leftists. Print media, he said, has “no credibility” and no relevance.

“I must tell that in all the 45 plus years I have been in the media business I have never seen a single article about us that is reflective of reality especially in today’s world with the shameful political environment and generally complete lack of integrity. Facts and truth have been lost for a long time and likely to never return,” Smith said.

“The print media is so left wing as to be meaningless dribble which accounts for why the industry is and will fade away. Just no credibility.”

Full Measure is a Sinclair product

Local news is not the only programming that Sinclair has “planted” on the stations it now owns. Full Measure is on in the Sunday morning politics line-up on most Sinclair owned stations. Here’s what Wikipedia says about Full Measure.

Full Measure is an American Sunday morning political affairs and investigative news magazine series that debuted on October 4, 2015. Hosted by investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, the syndicated program is produced by the Sinclair Television Group.[2] Airing on most television stations operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group division, it is initially broadcast at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time (although some Sinclair owned-and/or-operated stations air the program later in the morning, depending on the scheduling of local and network programming); it is also streamed live-to-air on the program’s website, FullMeasure.news.[

And here’s what Media Matters had to say:

Discredited former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson will host a weekly news show on Sunday mornings starting October 4 on Sinclair Broadcast Group stations, which include ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox affiliates. Attkisson has a lengthy record of shoddy, inaccurate reporting, and she has pushed a bizarre conspiracy theory that the government hacked her home electronics.

Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson promises her new Sinclair Television show will be different than typical Sunday morning public affairs programs, but she couldn’t resist having Donald Trump as her first guest.

[…]

“Full Measure” is the first-ever program produced by the Sinclair Television Group, which owns 162 local TV stations, covering 38 percent of the nation’s TV homes. Most stations will air it at 9:30 a.m., or later in the morning in some markets where Sinclair owns more than one station, like in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or Syracuse, N.Y.

The program’s mission is accountability reporting and investigations. Sinclair and Attkisson say “Full Measure” will come without a political agenda, although shared history makes that a pertinent question.

[…]

Sinclair, with its biggest concentration of stations in the South and Midwest, has a history of promoting conservative thought. Sinclair executive Mark Hyman distributes commentaries to its stations. The group told its ABC stations not to run a “Nightline” episode during the Iraq War because it was judged unpatriotic. Livingston said Sinclair believes most media leans to the left, “and our objective is to pull them to the center.” [Associated Press, 9/30/15]*

There is more in the Media Matters article about Sharyl Attkisson’s problematic past in reporting. Check it out.

Daily Mail is Aired on Sinclair Stations

Daily Mail, on the air in late afternoon everyday also finds Sinclair involved, and planning to be more involved once they complete the merger with Tribune Media. Although this is mainly a Hollywood gossip show there is an awful lot of Trump, Ivanka, and company on the show, caught in their more casual moments looking affluent and privileged and quite carefree.

The newest piece of news about Sinclair once again backs up the authoritarian (fascist) outlook of the Sinclair modus operandi. Ex-employees go against the agreements they had to sign with Sinclair in order to reveal the nature of these contracts, Contracts like these were once in common use, but are now considered too punitive.

“After Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. drew widespread criticism for having anchors read a statement taking aim at the integrity of other U.S. media outlets, many wondered why some of the company’s journalists didn’t just quit.

Short answer: The cost may be too steep. According to copies of two employment contracts reviewed by Bloomberg, some Sinclair employees were subject to a liquidated damages clause for leaving before the term of their agreement was up — one that requires they pay as much as 40% of their annual compensation to the company.”

Is Sinclair Dangerous?

Josh Barro, who commented on the Sinclair Deadspin video on MSNBC Monday evening, may want Sinclair in his market but to me it is unwelcome and distressing. Dan Rather and Joe Scarborough seem to agree with me on this. But many comments suggest we are overreacting on this Sinclair invasion. They tell us “all this has happened before.” People were saying that about the Republicans for a long time before Trump was elected but after Trump was elected these same people admit that perhaps some of this differs, at least in degree, from what has occurred in the past. Well they are right, it has all happened before.

Yes it has, in every authoritarian state.

Pitiful-Sinclair Turns Local News People into Puppets

free press PanAm Post big

It is pitiful to turn on my local news and watch once respected local journalists take a verbal dive demanded by their new employers, in order to keep their jobs. Here is a picture of two of the people on my local news as they read out the following statement to the entire CNY market, because they had to.

Local news people

 

“The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media, more alarming, national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without checking facts first. Unfortunately, some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’ … This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.”

This is so typical of the GOP and now Trump to accuse everyone else of what they are doing, pointing a finger, but away from themselves. “We’re not doing that, you’re the ones doing that.”

And then…

This was on the Joy Reid show on Easter Sunday morning:

https://theconcourse.deadspin.com/how-americas-largest-local-tv-owner-turned-its-news-anc-1824233490

https://content.jwplatform.com/previews/wIs4mmG8?exp=1522639920&sig=b8a6050d850ed42e9b69bed7b4f488f5

Thank you theconcourse.deadspin.com for catching this all on video.

This is bad, very bad.

Global Disapproval as a Weapon

loudspeakers

August 30, 2016 – Remembering what I said then:

If you can remember back far enough to remember the movie Dangerous Liaisons then I think we could find a way to register our deep, deep disapproval without lobbing bombs at a leader who is just waiting to have us lob bombs at him. (What if all hell breaks loose?) If you remember, in the movie, an aging countess (Glenn Close) had learned to use men as pawns to give to herself the independence and the power to live well without a husband. She had affairs, as many as she wanted and she manipulated the guilt and the fear of exposure the men felt in such a way that when she ended the affair, they found they could not tell. She lived above gossip and although women knew she was not quite the thing, they had no proof and she was accepted by society. Until she fell in love.

She had sent a young man (John Malkovitch) on his way once, but as the film opens we meet a woman who is now showing her age. She is still handsome, but not beautiful. When that young man she fell in love with comes back and implies that he is still interested, she plays her last and most dangerous game, which she loses, rather badly. She still thinks that she has kept her secrets and has enough social cachet to go on. When she appears at the opera and everyone boos her, her reaction is visceral and I’m sure that from that time forward her social isolation is complete.

Maybe we could all; in every city and town all around the world, play, over very large loudspeakers,  at a certain time, like midnight at the Prime Meridian on Monday, a sound track of people booing with all of the loudspeakers pointed in the direction of Syria. I wonder if the sound would carry all the way to Syria. Then everyone in the world could turn his/her back on Assad and send Assad into a social isolation that would put him out of commission for the rest of his life. Now that would be retribution and it would feel really fine. I don’t imagine words or even world-wide condemnation could affect someone like that. You know what; I don’t even think bombs will do it.

More of what I said then:

Obviously we are way past the days when social shunning will put even a dent in the entitled arrogant man with the heart of granite who leads Syria. Here is a man who lives in bubble of comfort and privilege and who will not abdicate power even though his “kingdom” has been reduced to rubble around him and his “subjects” have had to flee or die. Here is a man whose every little hair on his smarmy head is glued in place and whose wardrobe costs more than it would take to feed the starving children in the nation that is unlucky enough to be ruled by this egomaniac. But what will finally oust this guy from his palace? Will we declare war on Assad and let the repercussions in Russia fall where they may? What if this becomes World War III and this time Russia is not on our side? I don’t know anyone who really thinks that we shouldn’t tread carefully, harden our hearts against letting grief and empathy dictate policy.

wedding in Syria big theatlantic.com

If, as I believe is true, no one is sure about how to handle Syria beyond what we are already doing, then our only choices are to continue to give Syrian refugees room to catch their breath and raise their children and to continue the air assault on Syria, the one that is further complicated by the presence of ISIS (and now Russia).

This is the view from the cheap seats.

This article appeared in my blog at http://thebrissioniblog.blogspot.com/ on 8/30/2013. The current post has been edited a bit.

And then this happened this last week of March in 2018:

The United States, in support of the UK, and to register our disapproval of an assassination attempt in Salisbury, England in broad daylight using an outlawed nerve gas, revoked permission for 60 Russians who are in our country ostensibly as diplomats. They were expelled from America and sent back to Russia.

Then this happened:

nations expelling Russian bigmetrocouk

All of these nations followed suit and sent Russian diplomats out of their nations in support of the UK. This gave me goosebumps, brought tears to my eyes – ridiculous perhaps, but it is a perfect example of weaponizing global disapproval and, although Putin does not get goosebumps or tears in his eyes, I hope he felt taken aback just a bit. I knew he would retaliate and of course he did. He closed the American embassy in St. Petersburg and sent our diplomats/intelligence people home.

But I was still touched by this show of solidarity especially given the divisive times we live in, the inexplicable affection the American President Trump has shown for Putin, and the even less comprehensible cold shoulder he has given to many of our allies.

 

 

Elections, not Zuckerberg

zuckerberg-analytica-796x419 TNW big

Mark Zuckerberg seems no better and no worse than any other business owner/billionaire these days. His company makes huge profits and he still needs ever more to satisfy himself and his stockholders. This is our brand of capitalism and Zuckerberg is certainly not any more greedy than anyone else. I am not going back into the now-distant past to talk about whether he became sole owner of Facebook by trickery and theft of intellectual property. That has already been adjudicated and now is a matter for Zuckerberg’s conscience.

There are at least two different points being argued at the same time and they do connect, but they are not the same issue. One argument says here is a company that is owned by one man. It has a huge presence on the internet which gives Mark Zuckerberg a disproportionate influence over internet users. So the argument here is that Zuckerberg’s company needs some regulation.

But that depends on whether we are talking about consumerism or elections. Unlike Cambridge Analytica Mark Zuckerberg, I’m thinking, did not intend to influence a US election any more than he intended to make identity theft a more common type of crime. He did intend to use what all websites use and what Bruce Schneier, writing at cnn.com yesterday morning (March 26, 2018) called “surveillance capitalism.”

Facebook users are not that naïve. We know that, although Facebook has gotten quite picky about what privacy level we want for things we post, they still allow all kinds of other apps and sites to collect our data and that of our friends. How many times have you given up your contacts to gain quick access to a site? The problem is that this allows someone like Cambridge Analytica, an organization that has only a fiduciary relationship with Facebook to mine data that Facebook supposedly protects but actually makes accessible to all who pay to advertise on the platform.

Since our entire culture centers around making money, having money, making more money and stockpiling as much money as you can and since every company has the same goals – profit- it is hard to fault Zuckerberg for being a successful businessman. If no one ever used this data to spy, to meddle in an election(/s), then we would not be having this discussion right now.

We are at a time when meddling in American elections seems to be the project of the moment for way too many people and at least one nation. I am not talking about voter fraud. I do not think we the people are even on the list of election tinkerers. Are both the GOP and the Dems using the internet to feed false information to people who use social media? I don’t think so. Were those who stole data under false pretenses and used it to fix (or try to fix) an election only trying to stop Hillary, or did they only wish to elect Trump – or would they have tried to throw the election to any candidate on the right. It seems that the election of 2016 was very important to an awful lot of people, and that they were are all working for the right.

Regardless of who Cambridge Analytica was working for, or whether or not Putin had people trying to fix the election, or even if Hillary and the Dems were trying to fix the election against Bernie Sanders, clearly we must protect our elections from any kind of meddling. Free and fair elections are the basis of our democracy/republic. Given what we can see about the lack of any reliable privacy on the internet and the modern tendency to push media into our communities that offers partisan propaganda, but likes to pretend that it is offering unbiased facts, obviously, some real effort and study needs to be dedicated to protecting our “free and fair” elections. Since some people feel that all is fair in politics and elections this effort cannot be delayed. We have another election coming up. We have elections all the time.

It is disingenuous to try to make Mark Zuckerberg the scapegoat for what is happening with our elections. Perhaps this is more Conservative razzle-dazzle to distract everyone from noticing that most of the election meddling was done on behalf of the GOP and Donald Trump. Zuckerberg just uses the same “surveillance capitalism” that all sites use on the web (although it is possible he pioneered some of the methodologies currently in use). These tactics are invasive and annoying and they make hacking the web a gamble with a big payoff.

We do need some oversight on the internet or the internet will become so crime-ridden that it will be shunned by people who cannot take risks with their data or their money. And this very model of “surveillance capitalism” is used on all social media but Facebook has the biggest treasure trove of personal information. Can Facebook be fixed? Will we like it to death?

It also feels as if some people are feeling personally vindictive towards Mark Zuckerberg and some professional jealousy may be increasing their desires to force him to answer to Congress and take him down a peg or two. We need to keep our eye on the main focus here and that is to guarantee that our elections are free and fair. If we have to rein in capitalism on the internet, are we willing to do that at a time when our government is busily overturning all the regulations that are now in place? What we need most of all is a new government.