Media Takeover: Why Does Sinclair Want Local News

From PanAm Post


Our media is involved in a takeover, possibly by the Koch brothers and their Conservative web of organizations, or at least by Conservatives, and we are not paying enough attention to this. Last week one of the newscasters on my local TV station read this statement:

“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.”

Then the anchors are supposed to strike a more positive tone and say that their local station pursues the truth.

“We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left or right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.”

This is exactly the type of irony that modern Conservatives seem to love. They claim that they are protecting you from the very thing they are doing to you. Fox News and other Conservative media have invented “fake” news and now they are warning you to protect yourself against it. But they are using their brain twisting propaganda, their sleight of mind, because they are actually the people who are pushing “fake stories without checking facts first.” Conservatives love to pretend that liberals are the guilty party and they use name calling and table turning to make their case. They are hoping that by the time they are done listeners will no longer know what is fact and what is “fake” and then they will be able to sell us any old thing, or idea, or “truth”.

It is probably a fair assumption to make that most listeners pretty much accept at face value anything they hear on the news, especially the local news, which until now has been fairly trustworthy. It is difficult to propagandize the weather, or the local police blotter, or local sports, although if someone wanted to they could probably do it. I just don’t think anyone ever gave it a thought before now. Very little time on local news channels is devoted to national or international news. Any national news story on a Sinclair station can now be assumed to have a Conservative or, more likely now, a Trumpian bias.

I don’t know about you, but when I was coming up we were taught to abhor state-mandated news and to see it as a warning that our democracy was turning into an authoritarian state. In fact, dictating what the media could or could not say was a key feature of authoritarian government. Russia was famous for going back to old news and changing it to match a current ideology. We used to smack our foreheads here in America, the land of the free, and wonder how people could be fooled by this. If they remembered what the story used to be how did they rewire their brain to accept the new version. Perhaps they didn’t do that, but knew that they had better pretend that they accepted whatever the state dished out. Authoritarian leaders rule by fear and that is why we watch carefully for any signs that our democracy might have been co-opted by a dictatorship.

Well here we are at this moment, with a leader who does not seem to believe that a democracy can foster strong leadership, a man who crosses his arms, strikes a pose, and says that he will be our strong leader, a man whose role models for strong leadership all head dictatorships. Here we are with a leader who uses fear to govern, although not necessarily fear of himself (yet). Here we are at this moment with a leader who is allowing Conservative media outlets to ignore FCC rules against one outlet owning too many stations, trashing our protections against a media takeover. Here we have this company, Sinclair Communication (Broadcasting) controlling more local stations than anyone has ever even wanted to own and still seeking a merger with Tribune Media which would allow them to control more local stations. Alarm bells should be going off all over the place, but this story is not considered “sexy” enough to get much play in media that is still “free”.

Why does Sinclair want all of these local stations if not to push out propaganda disguised as a local news, to hit people where they live? Doesn’t this frighten you? It frightens the hell out of me. It is often quite subtle though, now that Sinclair has learned not to slap us in the face with known Trump mouthpieces. It confuses listeners even more if they offer up some stories that almost seem like real news and then present us, once in a while, with something more key where a swerve to the right matters.

The last story I saw was about imposing a federal gas tax to pay for infrastructure. It sounded like a real story discussing the pros and cons of a 25 cent increase per gallon to be used for fixing roads and bridges. We have raised infrastructure money before with a gas tax. But oddly, at the end of the story, is a small commentary about what the Koch brothers have to say about this. Michelle Macaluso (a known newscaster for Sinclair) takes us, at light speed, through a chart showing how the gas tax would affect consumers at various tax brackets. The Koch brothers are opposed to putting a tax on gas. They could, in fact, be the actual authors of that pledge GOP lawmakers made to the organization Americans for Tax Reform, headed by Grover Norquist, the pledge that makes a very positive-sounding promise that taxes are never to be raised (be careful what you wish for). Why were the Koch brothers and their opinion even included in this local report of a national news story. Perhaps because the Koch brothers are deep in the middle of the current rush to acquire media outlets for Conservatives. Look for connections between Sinclair, Nexstar, Meredith and even the head of the FCC, Ajit Pai. If these folks have their way there will be a one party system in the media and in Washington, and America will be ruled by a single ideology, the Conservative Way.

Everyone who feels that our democracy is in mortal danger should be talking about this media takeover, tweeting about this, making memes about this, letting the FCC know that we are watching them. Given the number of old rules and norms being thrown on the trash heap everyday it is difficult to stay concerned about all of it. But when we are faced with unfettered capitalism, and runaway pollution and climate change, and the constant erosion of our rights we must add the assault on our free press (including all media) and continue to remind people of what news is real and what news is not, even if they don’t believe us. – Sinclair’s ‘Brazen’ Plan to Sell New York, Chicago Stations With Strings Attached Draws Criticism


Keep An Eye on the Media Takeover

Media News concept

On the very day of a media takeover, on the day that all a nation’s media comes from one ideological source that nation becomes a dictatorship, a nation ruled by one authority, an autocracy. On that day in America our Constitution becomes moot and our democracy/republic dies. We have Conservative millionaires and billionaires in this nation who are trying to make right wing media the only media view available when you turn on your radio, your TV, and eventually your computer. They have enough money, time, and clout to make this happen.

This attack on our media has been going on for decades. We all know the names of the right wing radio hosts: Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Sean Hannity. Limbaugh began broadcasting politics on the radio in 1984, Beck in 2000, Levin in 2006. It is likely that there are more right wing talkers who are less famous.

People know these names because these media people have been haranguing Americans on the road and in their garages for years. Their popularity did not go unnoticed by Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes who, in 1996, established Fox Network News, broadcasting right wing “news”, opinions, and conspiracy theories on our TV’s 24/7. I know that Fox News runs all day long on televisions all over America and has for years, spouting right wing “propaganda” targeted at Americans who nurture grievances against almost any topic you can name.

Conservatives have already taken over our government – they control all three branches, and a majority of state governments (they’re still working on this). Now they are going for our media. Despite their clumsiness in governing they are still in the driver’s seat. They are stuffing Federal courts with conservatives (some ridiculously unqualified). I seem to be the only person in America who thinks this looks like a coup from the inside. It looks to me like conservatives, who have nursed their own grievances, will finally win the Civil War.

One group on the attack to co-opt our media is Sinclair Broadcasting Group led by the conservative Smith family, David D. Smith is the current executive officer. Sinclair already controls 70+ stations in markets across the nation. Here’s a list if you want more detail:

Sinclair requires local news channels to insert right leaning “news” into their broadcasts.

At one time they used talkers recognizable as right wing “Trumpers”, but now the talkers they use are more generic. If you think someone is a right wing commentator and you look them up on line most likely you will see that they are on the staff at Sinclair Broadcasting.

For some time now Sinclair has wanted to expand into other markets by merging with Tribune Media. Today an article in the NYT suggests that the legal way has been cleared and we will probably hear soon that Sinclair gets its way and the American people lose more ground.

Also today my news feed tells me that the Koch Brothers are seeking to help the conservative group Meredith enlarge their media empire by merging with Time, Inc., a merger which has been attempted before and failed due to financial concerns. Now that the Koch brothers have given financial backing to Meredith their bid is looking more likely to become a deal.

Normally the FCC and the courts would prevent these kinds of media monopolies, but the right seems to have cornered every agency that they can use in their quest to control America. Perhaps they do not realize that by controlling America in this way they destroy it. Perhaps they don’t care.

As far as I know, although mainstream media tends to lean left, the closest the left comes to owning media is what we find on MSNBC in the evenings. The left does not believe that it is appropriate for one ideological camp to own the media. How do we fight back against these obnoxious conservatives who don’t mind flirting with shutting down opposition views, in other words establishing an authoritarian right wing state where our democracy once lived? At the very least we should call it out every time we see it and repeat our concerns over and over again. In other words, we resist.