John Oliver opened Sunday’s Last Week Tonight with an update on his chilling 2017 report about Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has been forcing local news anchors to read propaganda scripts written by the company. Those local anchors are comparing themselves to POW’s being forced to record propaganda messages.
Oliver last year warned viewers about Sinclair Broadcasting which could own local stations representing 72% of the country’s TV households if its Tribune stations buy is approved. In that July 2017 report Oliver revealed the extreme-right “must run” stories the company is forcing station managers to include in broadcasts. Those reports included an “investigation” into the “deep state” that is “undermining” President Donald Trump, and a script describing the FBI as having a “personal vendetta” against Michael Flynn.
These “must run” segments also include batshit commentary by former Donald Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, the Russian-born political strategist who now is Sinclair’s “chief political analyst.” He may best be remembered as the guy who wrote President Trump’s infamous 2017 Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that made no reference at all to Jewish people.
In Sunday’s segment, Oliver included an Epshteyn commentary trashing CNN for its repeated use of offensive language. After Trump called countries in Africa, and elsewhere “shithole” countries, CNN used POTUS’ remark in on-screen headlines and in reporting about the incendiary remark and fallout. Epshteyn argued Trump had used the word once and in what he thought was a private meeting. The issue was not that Trump used a bad word, Oliver insisted, but that “Trump used his racist brain and mouth.”
Recently Sinclair took its game to a new level, Oliver said, noting a new Sinclair “must run,” local broadcasts of which have gone viral.
When you see, collectively, just how may locals stations were forced to read it and” you watch them together, as many have been doing online in the last couple of days, you begin to realize the true effect of Sinclair’s reach and power,” Oliver warned, crediting a stunning Deadspin that has gone viral.
Nothing says ‘We value independent media” like dozens of reporters forced to repeat the same message over and over again, like members of a brainwashed cult,” Oliver said, then showed some of the anchors across the country reading the script.
HBO is not expected to issue video of this segment since it was not Oliver’s deep-dive topic of his telecast. So, here is Deadspin’s version:
And here is John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight report from July of 2017, about Sinclair’s propaganda machine: