Trump Defends Sinclair Broadcasting
President Donald Trump has put his own spin on a Deadspin online video showing Sinclair local TV news anchors across the country all reading the same warning to viewers about "the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country," and saying it was "extremely dangerous to our democracy."
The required reading was first reported by CNN's Brian Stelter.
The President tweeted Monday in defense of Sinclair. which is currently trying to get its Tribune merger through Washington regulators and the Justice Department:
Allied Progress, which opposes the Sinclair merger, said Sinclair has been "forcing local news stations to parrot the anti-media talking points of President Trump," and called it "an ominous taste of things to come if the company’s proposed merger with Tribune is ultimately approved."
Sinclair has said the merger will lead to more local news, not less.
Sinclair has not actually been getting a pass from the Justice Department, which has yet to approve the deal, and apparently required it to spin off more stations that Sinclair initially wanted to due to concerns about the control of the advertising in some markets where Sinclair wanted to own two of the top four stations. In fact, the company is expected soon to re-file its deal for the fourth time as it works on getting Justice approval.
The FCC has eased the path to a deal however with the loosening of some local ownership rules.
The President's possible influence in media mergers has been in the news lately with the ongoing trial in D.C. of Justice's suits to block the merger of AT&T with CNN parent Time Warner, which the President as a candidate vowed to block, suggesting it would make that company too powerful.
CNN and NBC are not alone in being branded "fake news," a charge he has leveled at the New York Times, Washington Post, and others over reporting critical of him or his policies.
The President also Monday branded "fools" those saying that the Post Office makes money with Amazon, and suggested Justice Department and FBI actions on another issue were an embarrassment to the country, before tweeting how honored he was to be presiding over the annual Easter Egg roll.
There are, of course, genuine concerns about "real" fake news, like that ginned up by Russia to meddle in the 2016 election, or conspiracy theories that gain currency via the un-curated echo chamber of the internet, but the President has used a broad brush to attack a wide range of mainstream media not falling into that category.
Sinclair defended the 'fake news' statement as simply a way to differentiate its local news from unverified stories on social media a
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.