Sinclair Broadcast Group, the unabashedly pro-Trump TV company with nearly 200 stations nationwide, is taking a beating recently for forcing its anchors around the country to read a script railing against “fake stories” and journalists who “use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda.” (Watch this chilling video of Sinclair anchors reading the script on air.)
On Monday, President Trump rushed to Sinclair’s defense in his morning blitz of tweets: “So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”
So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018
No media company—not even Fox News—has done more to ingratiate itself to the Trump administration than Sinclair.
After Trump’s election, Politico reported on comments made by Jared Kushner that Trump’s campaign had cut a deal with Sinclair for more favorable coverage. (Sinclair denied this.) Sinclair soon hired Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump White House aide, to be the company’s lead political analyst. Epshteyn’s daily commentaries, “Bottom Line with Boris, were described by the Baltimore Sun’s longtime TV critic “as close to classic propaganda as anything I have seen in broadcast television in the last 30 years.” Sinclair has also enlisted former Trump White House aide Sebastian Gorka as a commentator and touted Trump’s recent tax bill.
Nor is this the first time Sinclair has used its platform to parrot the president’s favorite attack on the media. Last year, Scott Livingston, a Sinclair executive for news programming, went on the air and railed against news outlets pushing “fake news.”
Trump, in turn, has been good to Sinclair. Trump’s Federal Communications Commission has pushed through a series of deregulatory actions that have paved the way for Sinclair’s growth and domination of the local news business. The FCC is currently weighing a merger that would let Sinclair acquire most of rival Tribune Media’s stations. If approved, the merger would extend Sinclair’s reach into as many as three-quarters of US households. It’s hard to see Trump objecting to the deal if his pro-Sinclair tweet is any indication.