In early March, a news story broke stating that Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner and operator of around 190 television stations across the country, would require its news anchors to recite a specific script about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.” Now, a video has emerged showing the requirement in action.
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The video was sent out in a tweet by Deadspin over the weekend. In the footage, dozens of news anchors from all across the US can be heard reciting from the exact same script, discussing the topic of “biased and false news.”
Sinclair required local news anchors to record the promos precisely as they were written.
“The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media,” part of the script says. “More alarming, national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without checking facts first. Unfortunately, some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think.’”
“This is extremely dangerous to our democracy,” the script adds.
While Sinclair states the promos were intended to warn viewers about the dangers of fake news that can appear on social media, according to a report by NPR, critics believe that Sinclair is using its position to force journalists to suggest that mainstream media can’t be trusted or promote a more conservative stance.
Sinclair owns more televisions stations than any other company, currently over 190. It is also working to acquire dozens more through the purchase of Tribune Media.
According to a report by CNN, internal documents show Sinclair created a new initiative in March that leveled the script an “anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message.”
Stations were also instructed to run the promos often “to create maximum reach and frequency” and that the pieces “should play using news time, not commercial time.”
“Please produce the attached scripts exactly as they are written,” said the instructions from Sinclair. “This copy has been thoroughly tested and speaks to our Journalistic Responsibility as advocates to seek the truth on behalf of the audience.”
The only variances from the script include points where the news anchors recite their names and provide pertinent details about their station’s brand name and websites.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) March 31, 2018