Democrat senator attacks Sinclair Broadcasting for media group’s stance on ‘fake news’

by WorldTribune Staff, April 5, 2018

Sen. Dick Durbin has sent a letter to Sinclair Broadcasting asking the media group to explain its editorial decisions.

The Illinois Democrat wrote the letter, dated April 4, to Sinclair Executive Chairman David D. Smith following outrage from left-leaning media outlets after a montage video emerged which showed local Sinclair anchors all reading the same editorial script warning viewers about “biased” and “false news.”

Sen. Dick Durbin

The statement of corporate policy sought to distance Sinclair stations from media giants that have staked out vehement anti-Trump content policies in an era of declining media credibility.

Related: Sinclair Broadcasting statement on ‘fake news’ sparks coordinated media counterattack, April 3.

Leftist critics warned that Sinclair was engaging in pro-Trump “propaganda” and challenged the broadcasting group’s integrity.

In the letter, Durbin asked Sinclair to explain why anchors were delivering “scripted promotional message[s]” on public broadcast stations.

“Please confirm what Sinclair’s policy is regarding Sinclair-produced mandated content for local news anchors,” Durbin wrote. “Further, please clarify whether there will be employment consequences for personnel at local stations who refuse to deliver the scripted promotional message.”

In an April 4 tweet, Durbin said: “In a November meeting with my office, Sinclair representatives repeatedly denied mandating scripted content for local news stations. In light of disturbing news reports this week, I’m calling on Sinclair to explain itself.”

Sinclair owns 173 stations in 81 cities.

Meanwhile, Ken Romley, a North Carolina Democratic congressional candidate, has said he will not run political ads on Sinclair affiliates, an April 3 report by the Raleigh News & Observer said.

Romley is a candidate in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes parts or all of Franklin, Harnett, Johnston, Nash, Wake and Wilson counties. Republican Rep. George Holding currently holds the seat.

“We’ve decided not to support a corporate media giant that bullies its employees into reading propaganda,” said Romley, a Wake County resident and high-tech businessman, as saying. “It seems Sinclair is seeking to become yet another propaganda tool of the Trump administration. The only way we can stop this biased intervention into broadcast news is to hit them where it hurts – in their corporate pocketbooks.”

Holding campaign consultant Carter Wrenn told the News & Observer the Holding campaign had no objection to advertising on Sinclair-owned stations, noting that if they didn’t advertise on outlets the congressman disagreed with “we won’t be doing a lot of advertising.”

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