Published: Tue, April 03, 2018
Life&Culture | By Ben Goodman

Sinclair's 'hostage videos' a reminder of need for a free press

Sinclair's 'hostage videos' a reminder of need for a free press

Trump tweeted Monday that it was amusing to watch "Fake News Networks" criticizing Sinclair for being biased. Trump publicly threatened to sue The New York Times and other media outlets for giving coverage to his alleged sexual assault victims, blasted CNN as "fake news" and also called BuzzFeed a "failing pile of garbage" for publishing an unverified dossier that claimed Russian spies had blackmail-worthy personal and financial material on the us president-elect.

The video and resulting fallout have drawn fresh scrutiny to Sinclair, its politics and the ongoing controversy over its proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of the Tribune Company - a deal that would give Sinclair reach into seven out of 10 US households.

The first three legs were firmly in place and fully operational, but the pièce de résistance would be a Sinclair group of more than 200 stations in cities nationwide.

President Donald Trump lauded Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.as "far superior" to CNN or NBC Monday after the broadcaster that's seeking federal approval to buy Tribune Media Co. drew criticism for having its on-air personalities read scripted statements about "false news" by other media outlets. In the supercut, a seemingly endless parade of local anchors all say the following, verbatim: "Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think". These reporters aren't producing original journalism; they are aggregating often-flawed-reporting-content published by other media outlets, without fact checking it-or calling us to confirm any of it.

They ask viewers to reach out if they believe their own reporting is unfair and declare a commitment to remaining "fair, balanced, and factual". We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.

Driver tried to run over soldiers in Varces, near Grenoble, southeast France
French police have arrested a man who tried to run over a group of soldiers in south-eastern France . The gendarme was killed by the Moroccan-born assailant.

Some anchors were uncomfortable with the script, which they thought closely parroted Trump's messaging and rhetoric.

It is understood that numerous anchors forced to read the script felt uncomfortable doing so. "I felt like a POW recording a message", one anchor said.

While the policy, which many staffers have referred to as embarrassing and pushing a pro-Trump agenda of its own, started nearly a month ago, it went viral this past weekend and President Trump tweeted support for the stations this morning. The agreement gave Sinclair greater access to Trump and his campaign in exchange for running interviews without commentary, according to Politico. "We're all about tracking the truth and telling the truth and that's typically missing in most political coverage". "Confidence in an independent fourth estate is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy".

Scott Livingston told David that Sinclair's "reporting is nonpartisan" - although the company has been frequently accused of favoring Republicans in news coverage.

Trump defended Sinclair in a tweet on Monday. While Sinclair states they simply wanted to warn viewers about the dangers of fake news circulating around the media and social media, it is troubling to see how one company can have such vast influence over our media. Because that line, occasionally with slight variations, was broadcast nationally on scores of affiliates of the Sinclair Broadcast Group. The initial merger would have given Sinclair more than 39 percent of the market, which is against national television ownership rules. The CNN report stated that internal documents noted how Sinclair corporate would "monitor the comments and send replies to your audience on your behalf".

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