Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Extremely Dangerous to Democracy Or Just Plain Funny?

NYTimes |  On local news stations across the United States last month, dozens of anchors gave the same speech to their combined millions of viewers.

It included a warning about fake news, a promise to report fairly and accurately and a request that viewers go to the station’s website and comment “if you believe our coverage is unfair.

The script came from Sinclair Broadcast Group, the country’s largest broadcaster, which owns or operates 193 television stations. The company is seeking a $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune Media, a move that’s being held up by regulators over antitrust concerns.

Last week, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published a copy of the speech and reported that employees at a local news station there, KOMO, were unhappy about the script. CNN reported on it on March 7 and said Scott Livingston, the senior vice president of news for Sinclair, had read almost the exact same speech for a segment that was distributed to outlets a year ago.

Mr. Burke’s video — along with a similar one created by ThinkProgress, the left-leaning news outlet — spread quickly on social media over the weekend, leading to prominent criticism of Sinclair. Peter Chernin, a media investor and longtime president of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, called it “insidious.” David E. Price, a Democratic North Carolina congressman, called the video “pro-Trump propaganda” on Monday.

Piggybacking on the attention, House Democrats resurfaced a letter, dated March 22 and signed by 38 lawmakers, that called for the Tribune merger to be rejected.

President Trump responded to scrutiny of the broadcaster on Monday in a tweet.

“So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased,” he said.