Liberal news outlets have been publishing pro-Democrat rhetoric since even before President Obama was elected, but suddenly, one news station owner leans to the right and people are incredibly concerned. Such was the case when Portland, Oregon channels WGME-TV (Channel 13) and WPFO-TV (Channel 23) were ordered to carry segments that were favorable towards President Trump on orders from their owner, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcasting Group.
Sinclair is the country’s largest owner of local television stations, and according to Portland’s Press Herald, they’re “an aggressive, unabashed disseminator of conservative commentary supporting the Trump wing of the Republican Party.” Can you imagine? A news station owner that doesn’t hate President Trump!
President Trump’s former special assistant Boris Epshteyn, 34, became Sinclair’s chief political analyst this past spring and has attracted the attention of the liberal media outlets. Now they’re scrambling to discredit Epshteyn with facts designed to inspire mistrust. For instance, he’s described as a “Russia-born investment banker,” as well as “a friend and former Georgetown University classmate of the president’s son Eric Trump,” insinuating that these facts caused him to “ascended rapidly within Trump’s campaign.”
Sinclair Broadcasting Group is being slammed for airing Epshteyn’s pro-Trump segments “at the same time the company is awaiting approval from the Trump administration for it to purchase the 42 stations of the Tribune Media company, which will extend its reach to 72 percent of American households.”
Sinclair is also being criticized for running nightly updates from their Terrorism Alert Desk, “regardless of whether there was any terrorism that day to be alerted about.” The newspaper complains that “No segments present countervailing points of view,” making one wonder what kinds of countervailing points of view would be appropriate against terrorism? Interviews with ISIS leaders? Pro-Sharia law stories?
“It’s unheard of to have one company pushing one specific agenda reaching so many people and doing it in a way designed to evade local input,” says Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, a Washington-based group that opposes media consolidation. “The idea of having local stations offer an array of viewpoints is great, but what we get with Sinclair is one set of political leanings being broadcast everywhere.” He must not know about CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC or even PBS, for that matter.
Aaron says that he thinks Sinclair’s pro-Trump commentary is an effort to get special treatment from the administration. “They are essentially gaming the system,” he claims. “It’s even more nefarious given that Sinclair has been dedicated to boosting one party, and one wing of that party in particular, the Trump wing.”
Sinclair Broadcasting Vice President Scott Livingston defended it’s editorial segments, stating, “We believe our commentaries contribute to the diversity of views in the marketplace.”
Staff writer Colin Woodard of the Press Herald seems to be shocked that Sinclair’s opinion segments “have championed the president’s much-derided voter fraud commission, the repeal of ‘net-neutrality’ regulations that require all internet traffic to be on an even footing, and the idea that the White House press corps is covering the president unfairly, a favorite Trump talking point.”
The Terrorism Alert Desk gets the liberal-leaning writer all fired up, because they’re talking about it going on all over the world “five nights a week on Sinclair stations, regardless of whether there was terror that day.” He highlights a segment last August, “which was devoted to French legislation banning burkinis, the unrevealing swimwear worn to the beach by devout Muslim women, even though there was no terror angle to the story at all.”
Livingston tried to explain, saying, “Recognizing the severity of the threat terrorism poses in the world today, we find it useful to provide our viewers with constant updates regarding the state of terrorism.”
Some liberal-leaning employees at Sinclair station KOMO in Seattle “have put up mild resistance to Sinclair’s” right-leaning editorial segments, by airing some of them at obscure hours and complaining to their union about one segment in which Livingston himself actually issued an editorial accusing the news media of running “fake news” and urging viewers to share “content concerns” with local stations with his office. Others whined about having to wear Conservative sponsor LL Bean’s blue jackets on the air instead of being clad in Oregon-based, liberal leaning REI windbreakers. Some employees reportedly contacted Bloomberg about this, anonymously, of course.
The union did not back up the newspaper’s fears. “The bottom line is that this is (Sinclair’s) TV station and they can run whatever they want to run,” says Matthew Beck of IBEW Local 1837. “Employees have to run what the company tells them to run, and that is pretty much where it ends right there.”
Even Michael Socolow, professor of journalism at the University of Maine, can’t find fault with WGME, stating that it’s one of the best newscasts in all of New England.
“WGME is really not a typical Sinclair company in that it has great local newscasts; they win awards and they have top producers, and (anchor) Kim Block is a local legend,” Socolow says. “I view WGME’s news operation backed by veteran journalists as almost unique in the Sinclair universe.”