When Trump took office, Sinclair was on the cusp of purchasing Tribune media, a merger that would give the firm ownership of enough local stations to reach 70 percent of U.S. homes. But there were two obstacles to such a deal: Federal rules put a cap on the number of local news stations any single entity could own, and also prohibited any company from owning a newspaper and television station in the same media market. Taking on Tribune's assets would put Sinclair in violation of both those laws.
But by the end of Trump's first year in office, his appointees to the Federal Communications Commission had abolished both of those regulations. [...]
Now, Sinclair is taking its "covert state media" game to new, Orwellian heights: By the end of this month, Sinclair will require all of its local news anchors to condemn "national media outlets" for publishing "fake stories" and "using their platforms to push their own personal bias," according to internal documents obtained by CNN. Those documents instruct local news directors to air these criticisms of "biased and false news" -- criticisms that, of course, echo the president's own -- over and over again, so as "to create maximum reach and frequency."
Sinclair's new media-bashing promos rankle local anchors:
The instructions to local stations say that the promos "should play using news time, not commercial time." Like the Epshteyn commentaries, this takes away from local news time.
"Please produce the attached scripts exactly as they are written," the instructions say. "This copy has been thoroughly tested and speaks to our Journalistic Responsibility as advocates to seek the truth on behalf of the audience."
The promos begin with one or two anchors introducing themselves and saying "I'm [we are] extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that [proper news brand name of local station] produces. But I'm [we are] concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country."
Then the media bashing begins.