UPDATE: About a month ago I wrote this post about conservative Sinclair Broadcasting (who owns 200 TV stations across the nation including Portland's KATU) and their efforts to force their anchors to read a prepared speech vilifying "fake news." Now thanks to this video produced by Deadspin, you can see this plan in action. AND IT IS CREEPY. Watch.
ORIGINAL POST from March 8, 2018:
According to this story from CNN, the super conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group is requiring local news anchors at their stations to read a PSA about "fake news"—a term that's been used repeatedly by Donald Trump to disparage stories he doesn't agree with. From CNN:
Internal documents call the new initiative an "anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message."
But the staffers who shared the documents with CNN say the promos are inappropriate—yet another corporate infringement on local journalism.
"At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it," a local anchor said. The person insisted on anonymity because they believed they would be fired for speaking out.
Here's a selection of the 60-to-90 second script that news anchors are required to read, which are to run during news slots rather than commercial time:
"The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media," 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."
This rankles some local news stations who are upset because of Sinclair's obvious right-leaning bias (which is well documented), and they see the forced PSA as wildly hypocritical. In the article, one news anchor felt like "a POW" while recording the spot. But it doesn't stop there! Sinclair management also instructed their anchors on how they should dress in the promos.
"Talent should dress in jewel tones — however they should not look political in their dress or attire," one of the documents says. "Avoid total red, blue and purples dresses and suits. Avoid totally red, blue and purple ties, the goal is to look apolitical, neutral, nonpartisan yet professional. Black or charcoal suits for men...females should wear yellow, gold, magenta, cyan, but avoid red, blue or purple."
Sinclair Broadcasting Group currently owns the most local stations nationwide (including local ABC affiliate KATU as well as Univision's KUNP), and they are angling for the takeover of Tribune Media which will give it dozens more stations. The deal is currently under review with the FCC—that is under Trump administration control. SO THIS SHOULD GO WELL.