Sinclair Broadcasting aka Sinclair Communications is keeping a somewhat lower profile these days, at least in our local markets. After the Deadspin video showing newscasters in all but one of Sinclair’s locally owned stations reading the exact same “fake” pledge everyone suddenly realized that our local news stations had , in some cases, truly become outlets for Washington propaganda. Some people even call Sinclair news Trump TV. Local news presenters had to intone in unison that their Sinclair-owned station would offer “real” news, and also, in the same pledge, had to imply that most other stations offer “fake” news, although the truth of the matter is exactly the opposite. The statement was, most believed, a masterful use of irony. It was disturbing to see that local news people we have liked and who we have trusted to give us factual information were now being forced to peddle propaganda. There was such a strong national reaction to the video that Sinclair may be trying to be subtle for awhile.
It is possible that some of our local news people are right wingers and do not mind stories that suit their politics, but they never took this tone before. They prided themselves on offering news that could be considered nonpartisan, yet informative. Generally there are not many national news stories broadcast on the local news. After all it is called local news. I never knew the personal politics of our news reporters and usually this was not apparent from their approach to the news. But now the political bent of our broadcasters does matter. If stories are presented so that they consistently glorify one political party over another that is propaganda.
At first the skewed news was quite blatant and it was easy to see that people were trying to make Trump’s behavior look more Presidential. Boris Epshteyn had begun appearing on news about the White House, but when he popped up offering a news story about the President on our local news his appearance was incongruent enough to drop the jaws of people who were paying attention. When he proved to be too obvious as a bogus news reporter Sinclair, inexplicably, substituted Sebastian Gorka, as if we have flamboyant reporters with Russian accents on our local news every night. Clearly, if they wanted to inject a steady diet of propaganda, they needed to be a bit more subtle about who narrated their “must run” stories.
Michelle Macalusa proved to be able to fly under-the-radar for most news viewers. She could pass for someone local, even in all of Sinclair’s 193 markets, most likely. Now you had to pay more attention to the content of the news to observe the skew. For some reason even the mild-mannered Michelle Macalusa has now been replaced. Michelle has been replaced by Kristine Frazao (see photo above), who Sinclair hired away from RT News (Russia TV). The story I saw the other night on my local news was not noticeably propagandistic. However, it ignored all the national chaos about Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, Robert Mueller, the Federal Court in the Southern District of New York and instead told the story about the upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un to negotiate denuclearization, which is a story that makes Trump look more Presidential. (Denuclearization is not what Kim Jong-un says the meeting is about.) So it seems that Sinclair is learning subtlety, or it would seem to be so if Kristine Frazao wasn’t a journalist who interviewed Alex Jones of Infowars fame over twenty times, and if the North Korea story was not designed to praise our own dear leader.
Perhaps you have never noticed how Conservatives like to think of themselves as the truest American patriots as opposed to those on the left who I guess are “fake” patriots. Conservatives love to wrap themselves and all their ideas in the American flag as if symbol proves the worth of the substance. I find that many right-wing-expressed policies border on un-American and un-Constitutional and that is not just me. There is an entire resistance movement that believes the same thing. Claiming that our flag belongs to one political group more than another is to steal our flag for use as an emotional strategy in a war between ideologies that the right wing hopes to win.
In my TV local market two network channels are owned by Sinclair. These were our most popular local channels. One is on NBC and the other on CBS. These channels are using new graphics obviously designed by Sinclair and sent as “must run” graphics. Every tagline on the news (almost every tagline) has an American flag waving on the far right hand side of the line (see photo above). Surely people will say that I am being ridiculous. However it is entirely possible that these graphics are a patriotic dog whistle. It sends me running back to ABC local news, owned by a Conservative media group that is, so far, not invasive.
Perhaps I am just a crank, but I don’t think so. I do feel a bit isolated on this subject since there is no local hue and cry about Sinclair’s involvement here. I hope, though, that people will keep both eyes and minds open as we approach the elections in 2018. If the number of ads Sinclair is running to push its own programming (Full Measure and Daily Mail) can be taken as a sign, then we are likely to begin seeing an explosion of right-wing political ads on behalf of incumbent Congressional conservatives and even conservative judges very soon.