Employees at local television stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group complained to CNN about a “must-run” script that bashed “fake” and “one-sided” news.
“It sickens me the way this company is encroaching upon trusted news brands in rural markets,” an unnamed investigative reporter at Sinclair told CNN in an article published Monday.
The must-run segment alleges that “some media outlets” publish reporting “without checking facts first.”
Another unnamed local reporter told CNN: “I try everyday to do fair, local stories, some Trump-related, but it’s always washed out by this stuff they do at a national level.”
“As a producer who finds it unethical, I will refuse to run it,” another unnamed Sinclair employee told the network, though CNN noted it was unclear whether any of Sinclair’s stations — the company owns more stations than any other broadcaster in the United States — had actually refused to run the segment.
The stations were instructed to run the segment often, and during “news time, not commercial time,” according to internal documents reported by CNN in early March. Sinclair owns more television stations than any other broadcaster in the country. On Monday, the company could claim the support of a powerful friend: President Donald Trump, some of whose former advisers now work for Sinclair, and who tweeted in support of the broadcaster.
The Los Angeles Times’ Matt Pearce published an exchange he had with an unnamed Sinclair employee who described conditions that, in Pearce’s words, make it “so hard for TV anchors to refuse the Sinclair’s editorial edicts.”
A Sinclair journalist, who has been trying to resist from inside the newsroom — but who doesn’t have a union — explains why it’s so hard for TV anchors to refuse the Sinclair’s editorial edicts. They have contracts that penalize them if they quit. pic.twitter.com/pFGVglxAQU
— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) April 2, 2018
“I feel bad because they’re seeing these people they’ve trusted for decades tell them things they know are essentially propaganda,” one unnamed anchor told CNN of the must-run segment. The person noted that fellow anchors “have all this experience in news, and now they’re being degraded like this.”