In July 2017, John Oliver enlightened his viewers about a far-right media empire, Sinclair Broadcasting, which was not yet a household name but was in the process of expanding its local news holdings to over 230 stations nationwide. Last week, Deadspin began rounding up clips of these stations’ anchors reciting a script that sounded like it was inspired by a Trump tirade about “fake news.” The script, which you can read at ThinkProgress, included the following lines:
“We’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media … More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first. … Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’ … This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.”
The robotic-sounding clips played like state-media propaganda that one would expect in North Korea or Russia. So of course, the videos made the internet rounds all weekend, and Jimmy Kimmel, who’s spent the past year becoming an influential voice on multiple hot-button political issues (and reaping results), slammed Sinclair’s heavy-handed tactics as “extremely dangerous to our democracy” (echoing Sinclair’s words) while tweeting a compilation link.
Indeed, given that Trump actually announced “fake news awards,” Sinclair’s targets couldn’t be clearer. In addition, Trump has tweeted old wrestling footage of himself physically attacking CNN. He then spent last Christmas Even sharing memes of him “killing” CNN, and not long after that, a Michigan man was arrested for threatening to kill CNN employees for being “fake news.” Not only could Sinclair’s actions endanger democracy, but they could potentially incite further violence.
You can watch the bizarre montage of Sinclair-owned stations’ anchors reciting the speech below, courtesy of Deadspin.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) March 31, 2018
UPDATE 4/1 – 10:50am EST: John Oliver has delivered another blistering installment of criticism against Sinclair, and Trump has finally weighed in with an unsurprising angle.