This has nothing to do with writing or science fiction.
I’m not sure which is more disturbing–watching this video of 45 local news anchors simultaneously reciting a script given to them by their bosses at Sinclair Broadcast Group, or reading the script itself as it was given to the anchors at Seattle’s KOMO News.
Hi, I’m(A) ____________, and I’m (B) _________________…
(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our Northwest communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that KOMO News produces.
(A) But we’re concerned about 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.
(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.
(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’…This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.
(B) At KOMO it’s our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left nor right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.
(A) But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to KOMOnews.com and clicking on CONTENT CONCERNS. We value your comments. We will respond back to you.
(B) We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual… We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.
(A) Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback.
These anchors were forced to sign contracts in order to work for Sinclair which “stipulated that employees could be subject to a ‘liquidated damages’ clause requiring them to pay Sinclair up to 40 percent of their annual paycheck as penalty.” So not only are they at risk of losing their jobs if they refuse, but if they tried to quit in protest they could be liable for thousands of dollars in damages to Sinclair for ending their contract early. They were essentially held hostage to spread “fake news” propaganda–exactly the same thing they’re seemingly warning people about.
A former Sinclair journalist sent me a screenshot of their contract. “I couldn’t leave because of this part of my contract.” pic.twitter.com/ePCnUCbzs0
— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) April 2, 2018
David Smith, the executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast, is using these local anchors to exploit the trust they’ve built up with their audiences in order to spread his message. Think about what they’re saying. They warn of “irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country,” and how “members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.”
You might say, well yeah, of course there’s fake news! And members of the media DO use their platforms to push their own personal bias! And you’d be right. So let’s talk about biased members of the media pushing false, one sided news stories, what they push, and who they’re pushing it on.
If you lean left, you might be thinking Breitbart, Limbaugh, Drudge, Fox, InfoWars…
If you lean right, you might be thinking NYT, MSNBC, ThinkProgress, The Young Turks…
“Fake news” is a term that Hillary Clinton first used, believe it or not. In December 2016, she made a speech decrying “the epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year.” Trump only picked it up a month or so later when he told CNN’s Jim Acosta, “you’re fake news.” Then, he began repeating it endlessly after Trump supporters responded well to it.
Either way, Sinclair Broadcast Group is definitely a right-leaning organization: “During the 2016 election, Sinclair stations were perceived to have offered Donald Trump soft interviews on local news outlets in states that were important to his electoral college victory. The station group recently hired Borys Epstein, a former White House spokesman, as a commentator.” David Smith of Sinclair said on April 3, 2018 in an exchange with New York Magazine, “The print media is so left wing as to be meaningless dribble which accounts for why the industry is and will fade away.”
And now, Sinclair has forced 45 local news stations to air “must-read” segments “warning of the dangers of ‘fake news’ in language that echoes President Trump’s rhetoric.” Ajit Pai, head of the Trump Administration’s FCC, “intends to raise the limits on the ownership for TV stations, currently capped at reaching 39% of the country.” This would lead to Sinclair “extending its reach to 72% of American households.”
72% of American households would be getting their local news from David Smith’s perspective, while thinking that each channel was independent and looking out for their best interests. Think about that video, and how anchors A and B established trust with their viewers by reminding them that they’re from the local community–eastern Iowa, mid-Michigan, San Antonio, etc.
They are trying to get people to mistrust other news sources in favor of theirs. Sinclair aligns with Trump and the right wing, so what they’re doing is discrediting “liberal” or “left” news, even though they try to claim that “truth is neither politically ‘left nor right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.”
Factual reporting cannot be their focus when the anchors are forced to say these things. Propaganda is dangerous to our democracy.
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