Sinclair Broadcasting Helps Trump in Midterms

Sinclair - Living Room Trends 2018

I caught my local news on a channel owned by Sinclair Broadcasting the other night and the very thing I feared would happen is happening. Giving Trump/Trump supporters a voice on local news, allowing them to push out national news that sounds fair and balanced but that skews towards Trump, and skews right, is particularly dangerous when we are in an election cycle. Local people who insist that Fox is the best source for political news are the targets of Sinclair. They are already primed to believe this stuff. They are unaware of who Sinclair Broadcasting is and of the ways they are interfering in local news broadcasts. They find the skewed news to be perfectly acceptable because they have already been brainwashed to agree with it.

7,000 refugees walking from Honduras to the border between Mexico and the US two weeks before the midterms offers plenty of video footage to instill fear and anger in middle-class Trump supporters. These Trumpers are a percentage of Americans who already suspect, and riled by Trump, are now convinced, that immigrants steal our jobs, use benefits paid for and intended for use by citizens only, and are violent criminals who endanger American lives.

MS-13 tats - NPR

What I saw on my local news, pushed out in a must-run story from Sinclair Broadcasting was a graphic video about the MS-13 gang, resplendent in gang tattoos, ready to commit mayhem in a neighborhood near us. Such obvious fear-mongering two weeks before an election that could change the majority in the House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic could very well motivate more Republicans to go to the polls to prevent that from happening. That would be very bad for America. We have no checks on this President. We need some. A House of Representatives that skews left could give us at least a minimal check on an out-of-control President.

Local TV news used to try to give fairly balanced coverage of both candidates for a political office but Sinclair has put an end to that. This coverage does not look like it is even about the election but it is. It is wrong that Sinclair is allowed to own local stations when it is nothing but a one-sided political operative. It turns our news into propaganda. The wrongness of Sinclair is especially apparent during an election cycle. If we want news that is actual news we definitely need a blue wave. Trump is no fan of free speech unless the speech favors him.

Photo credits: From Google Image Searches, Living Room Trends 2018, NPR

 

 

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.

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.

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a19180102/sinclair-broadcasting-anti-media-propaganda/

https://theslot.jezebel.com/sure-sounds-like-sinclair-broadcasting-ju

https://www.mediaite.com/online/sinclair-broadcast-group-reportedly-forcing-its-anchors-to-tape-promos-blasting-media-so-manipulative/

http://variety.com/2018/tv/news/sinclair-tribune-merger-new-york-chicago-station-sale-1202716597/#utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=social_bar&utm_content=bottom&utm_id=1202716597 – 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:

http://www.stationindex.com/tv/by-owner/Sinclair

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

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/business/media/sinclair-broadcast-komo-conservative-media.html

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.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-fcc-media-merger-rule-20171116-story.html

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.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/15/business/media/koch-brothers-time-meredith.html

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.