Reacting to the growing backlash over forcing its local newspeople to read a media-bashing scripted promo ostensibly opposing “inaccurate reporting,” Sinclair Broadcast Group is out with a statement defending its program and its Trumpian language.
“The promos served no political agenda,” Sinclair said in a pre-statement intro on its website, “and represented nothing more than an effort to differentiate our award-winning news programming from other, less reliable sources of information.”
Plenty of others disagree, calling the move “Orwellian” and “extremely dangerous to our democracy,” while defenders including President Donald Trump say it’s legit in the era of fake news.
Here’s the company’s full statement, from SVP News Scott Livingston:
“We aren’t sure of the motivation for the criticism, but find it curious that we would be attacked for asking our news people to remind their audiences that unsubstantiated stories exist on social media, which result in an ill-informed public with potentially dangerous consequences. It is ironic that we would be attacked for messages promoting our journalistic initiative for fair and objective reporting, and for specifically asking the public to hold our newsrooms accountable. Our local stations keep our audiences’ trust by staying focused on fact-based reporting and clearly identifying commentary.”
The “must-run” defend Sinclair’s move forcing its local TV journalists to read — exactly as written — a tightly scripted promo/hostage video or risk comeuppance. The script refers to the “troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.” On Sunday’s night edition of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the host took Sinclair to task: “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.
He then showed a video compiled by the website Deadspin, which spliced together several of the promos in an effort to publicize their message and is chilling, funny or “it’s about time,” depending on your POV: