Several media outlets are reporting that Sinclair Broadcasting Group is requiring its local station news anchors to read promotional messages on air that complain about “biased and false news”. Fortune says that the script includes a passage, apparently to be read without irony, “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 was the brilliant tactic of Fox News, to hammer away at the message that not only is it the best source of information, but that most other sources are not to be trusted. It was a great way to build ratings even if it sometimes misled its viewers about the motivations or veracity of other reports.
After running John Oliver’s take on Sinclair last Friday, I hadn’t expected to write about them again so soon. As I mentioned then, I’m more concerned about the displacement of true localism, though I find this discounting of other points of view very disturbing when it’s required reading for dozens of stations. As an old newspaper guy, I feel a certain affinity for the truth, for verifiable facts. This kind of “local” news won’t help us get there.