Speaking of Fake News: The Sinclair Broadcast Group Quid Pro Quo
Well, I see where Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law is hosting a “news” show on Facebook, to give supporters the “real” scoop on the administration’s greatness….Since Trump’s vast accomplishments appear to have escaped the notice of credible journalism outlets, the family evidently felt the need to give the base a more flattering version of events in Washington. And also, according to yesterday’s Washington Post,
This week, meanwhile, saw the debut of Trump TV: a Web-based broadcast of “real news” by Kayleigh McEnany, a pro-Trump pundit formerly of CNN. In the first installment, she announces, in front of a Trump-Pence campaign backdrop in Trump Tower: “President Trump has created more than 1 million jobs. . . . President Trump has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction. . . . President Trump is finally putting the American worker first. . . . President Trump is dedicated to honoring these men and women who fought valiantly for our country.”
Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul tweeted: “Wow. Feels eerily like so many state-owned channels I’ve watched in other countries.”
Much more concerning, Jared Kushner recently revealed that before the election, the Trump campaign had made a deal with Sinclair Broadcasting (Fox News’ less-recognized Evil Twin):
Kushner said the agreement with Sinclair, which owns television stations across the country in many swing states and often packages news for their affiliates to run, gave them more access to Trump and the campaign, according to six people who heard his remarks.
In exchange, Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary, Kushner said. Kushner highlighted that Sinclair, in states like Ohio, reaches a much wider audience — around 250,000 listeners — than networks like CNN, which reach somewhere around 30,000.
“It’s math,” Kushner said according to multiple attendees.
Sinclair, a Maryland-based company, is a politically conservative network of local news outlets; it was the subject of a scathing take-down by John Oliver, on a recent episode of Last Week Tonight.
Local stations in the past have been directed to air “must run” stories produced by Sinclair’s Washington bureau that were generally critical of Obama administration and offered perspectives primarily from conservative think tanks, The Washington Post reported in 2014.
I’m sure it is merely coincidental (cough, cough), but following the election, Politico reported
Sinclair Broadcast Group is expanding its conservative-leaning television empire into nearly three-quarters of American households — but its aggressive takeover of the airwaves wouldn’t have been possible without help from President Donald Trump’s chief at the Federal Communications Commission.
Sinclair, already the nation’s largest TV broadcaster, plans to buy 42 stations from Tribune Media in cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, on top of the more than 170 stationsit already owns. It got a critical assist this spring from Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who revived a decades-old regulatory loophole that will keep Sinclair from vastly exceeding federal limits on media ownership.
The change will allow Sinclair — a company known for injecting “must run” conservative segments into its local programming — to reach 72 percent of U.S. households after buying Tribune’s stations. That’s nearly double the congressionally imposed nationwide audience cap of 39 percent.
That’s a nice quid pro quo: Sinclair delivers favorable publicity for the Trump campaign, and is rewarded by an FCC rule change benefitting its bottom line–a change that will allow the company to reach nearly three-quarters of American homes with “news” favorable to Trump.
When does actual news, which is protected by the First Amendment even when it is wrong or misleading, become propaganda or fraud? And what do we do about it?
When two deeply deranged heads of state are playing “mine’s bigger than yours” with nuclear weapons, there is some urgency in figuring this out.
- Trump’s Pravda: Administration Flirts With Creating State-Run Media
- Pravda: Will Trump Make Us the Next North Korea or Russia?