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Radio News: Listening to the same Sinclair Broadcast Group script

Apr 02, 2018 10:50 pm
Deadspin, the sports website, was the first media outlet to collect recordings of many local Sinclair Broadcast Group stations with their anchors reading the exact same script, and put them together. Three weeks ago, CNN reported the story that local anchors were being forced to read a controversial script that parrots the president's repeated accusation of "fake news." Now, assembled by Deadspin the Sinclair story has gone viral, as the propaganda of a network of stations forcing the same scripts on local anchors becomes more apparent. An audio recording of the Deadspin collage, mixed with the full recording of Liz Bishop and Greg Floyd reading the script on WRGB, the CBS affiliate in Albany, is here. The story was also picked up for the second time by John Oliver on his HBO show "Last Week Tonight," and on CNN and MSNBC, and other outlets. This is not Sinclair's first propoganda attempt, as in 2004 Sinclair forced its affliates to broadcast a 45-minute propaganda film allegding falsehoods against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's service in the Vietnam War. Now Sinclair owns the most local stations around the country, 193. That number will rise to 220 and its reach to 72 percent of U.S. homes, if a merger with Tribune Media is allowed. Scott Livingston, Sinclair's senior vice president of news, defended the must-read script on his stations in USA Today. “It is ironic that we would be attacked for messages promoting our journalistic initiative for fair and objective reporting, and for specifically asking the public to hold our newsrooms accountable," Livingston said. "Our local stations keep our audiences’ trust by staying focused on fact-based reporting and clearly identifying commentary.” In December 2016 President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner told business executives that Trump's campaign struck a deal with the Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage prior to the election. Trump took to Twitter to defend Sinclair after the video went viral. "So funny to watch Fake News Networks ... criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased," the president tweeted. "Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke." Anchors at some of the Sinclair stations are not laughing, with one telling CNN, "I felt like a POW recording a message," when reading the script. Another told CNN, "It sickens me the way this company is encroaching upon trusted news brands in rural markets."