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Reports of “fake news” and biased reporting have been a hot topic in and out of journalistic circles over the last year and a half. As more of our once reputable news services have become increasingly Conservative, many Americans have been forced to acknowledge a distrust of our national media.
Imagine discovering this bias to be an absolute fact, and that it reaches all the way to the local level. This isn’t the plot of some futuristic sci-fi or conspiracy theory film—it’s one of today’s headlines.
Sinclair Broadcasting is the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations and has some control over what reaches 40 percent of U.S. viewers. They recently started a merger with Tribune Media that would allow them to extend their reach into over 72 percent of U.S. homes. The deal, which is still being reviewed by the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission, would allow Sinclair to nearly monopolize the media.
This gives way to ethical concerns for many reporters and legitimate journalists in the industry. Many, in and out of the media, felt their fears confirmed when a viral video was released that shows a large number of news anchors reciting the same script denouncing fake news and encouraging the public’s trust.
The scripted statement read:
“The sharing of bias and false news has become all too common on social media. And more alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories without checking 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. And this is extremely dangerous to our democracy.”
It’s no surprise that every one of these news anchors worked for a network owned by Sinclair Broadcasting. They were forced to recite the script, allowing Sinclair to capitalize on their local credibility and relationships that they had built with their viewers.
On Wednesday, former Sinclair news director Aaron Weiss told CNN that the network had “must-run stories.” He continued, saying, “The problem with what Sinclair does is they co-opt the credibility that local anchors have built up in their communities over years and decades.”
The video was compiled by the leftist watchdog group Allied Progress. Allied, based in Washington D.C., has decided to fight fire with fire. They’ve gambled a six-figure sum on an add space on four of Sinclair’s prominent stations, with the intention of running the viral video and exposing the media giant.
Sinclair could find some way to veto the broadcast, but many believe that this would further confirm the reports of bias and media manipulation. According to a Thursday article released by the HuffPost, Sinclair “defended its decision” to force the scripted broadcast and has “garnered praise” from President Trump himself.
Patricia Howard is a freelance journalist and Netflix enthusiast from rural Indiana. She has a bachelor's degree in communication with a concentration in journalism. When Patricia isn't writing, she enjoys catching up on her favorite shows with her husband and seven children.
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