The Sinclair Broadcast Group propaganda machine is at it again. Not content to fortify the foundation of their conservatively biased ideals through attacks on marginalized populations and political opponents, the organization is now using the faces of their stations to lobby attacks against the credibility of the mainstream media using language that feels ripped from the president’s own vocal cords.
The script for these defacto PSAs on journalistic integrity in the age of social media leaked to CNN earlier this month, and the pieces began running recently. In them, local news anchors nationwide repeat the same phrases and talking points coming from the White House regarding the constant flow of legitimate news stories that are highly critical of the Trump administration, the only modification being a reference to each station’s geographical location. Here’s just a taste of the rhetoric included in the script, as transcribed by ThinkProgress:
We’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and fake news has become all too common on social media. More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories that just aren’t true, without checking the facts first. Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’ … This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.
It’s just the latest in a series of “must-run” content pieces produced by Sinclair and delivered to its owned stations for mandatory broadcast. The only difference is that Sinclair is putting the words of the paranoid, fringe element of their own political allegiance in the mouths of those charged with delivering the news to local communities while maintaining a level of trust and credibility with their audience. The company has produced politically dissident scripts for anchors in the past, but those rarely went beyond story introductions and were fairly benign compared to this latest offering. What this ends up creating is a cultish repetition of hypocritical mantra by people exhibiting physical signs of discomfort with what they are being forced to do. It should come as no surprise that one anchor described the experience as feeling “like a POW recording a message.” And what do you know: As both Deadspin and Last Week Tonight pointed out over the weekend, when you put all of the anchors together and listen to them all reading the script aloud, it sounds more than a bit eerie.
Line this up next to the “Terrorism Alert Desk” and “Bottom Line with Boris” as another element of Sinclair's decidedly pro-Trump efforts to sabotage American discourse. These tactics should come as no surprise when considering the reported ties between Sinclair executives and the Trump administration, and Sinclair's continued attempts to push for FCC approval of their purchase of Tribune Media despite an investigation into FCC Chairman Ajit Pai regarding the deal. The company has plenty to gain from hitching its wagon to the most divisive American head of state in recent memory. While their trumpeting of the president's criticism of those who hold him accountable has met heavy public and journalistic backlash, there is one man who stuck by their side.
This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.