Earlier this year, news broke that Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned televisions stations were requiring anchors to take on “fake news,” a move many felt was pushing a pro-Trump agenda.
The script, which is required to be read during news time rather than using up commercial spots, includes anchors saying they’re “extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that [proper news brand name of local station] produces.” The anchors are then supposed to follow by saying, “But I’m [we are] concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.”
The message, originally published on CNN, continues with the claim: “Some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think.”
While the policy, which many staffers have referred to as embarrassing and pushing a pro-Trump agenda of its own, started almost a month ago, it went viral this past weekend and President Trump tweeted support for the stations this morning.
Most of Sinclair’s stations are CNN affiliates.
In response to the ongoing controversy, Sinclair SVP Scott Livingston sent a memo to stations Monday, which was also obtained by CNN.
“The critics are now upset about our well-researched journalistic initiative focused on fair and objective reporting. For the record, the stories we are referencing in this campaign are the unsubstantiated ones (i.e. fake/false) like “Pope Endorses Trump” which move quickly across social media and result in an ill-informed public,” reads the memo. “Some other false stories, like the false “Pizzagate” story, can result in dangerous consequences. We are focused on fact-based reporting. That’s our commitment to our communities. That’s the goal of these announcements: to reiterate our commitment to reporting facts in a pursuit of truth. A new Monmouth University Poll out today says Americans are concerned, in fact, 77 percent of the respondents believe “fake news” is reported at least occasionally in mainstream media. This is a concern that is shared by Democrats, Republicans and Independents.”
With 173 stations, is the largest owner of local television stations in the country. It is currently attempting to complete the sale of several dozen Tribune-owned television stations. That deal is currently awaiting government approval.