(The local affiliates above are all owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.)
Right-wing (and Trump-loving) Sinclair Broadcasting has recently forced the news people at the stations they own read a corporate-approved message to their viewers. Here is journalist Dan Rather response to Sinclair's atrocious action.
Let's be clear, news anchors looking into camera and reading a script handed down by a corporate overlord, a script meant to obscure the truth not elucidate it, isn't journalism. It's propaganda. It's Orwellian. And it is on a slippery slope towards some of history's most destructive forces. These are the means by which despots wrest power, silence dissent, and oppress the masses.
To those who say this rhetoric is hyperbolic, I submit that attacking the press as honest brokers of information has been one of the constants of this Administration and all those who normalize it. But this is not normal. This is not how the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution, that beloved First Amendment, is supposed to operate.
Many of you by now have seen the video mashup of news employees on Sinclair-owned TV stations delivering the same talking points to their viewers. For those who haven't, I have included the link below. And a big tip of the Stetson to Timothy Burke, the video director at Deadspin, who edited the string of video clips into a powerful sequence that puts the dangers of our time into visceral relief.
The faces of the men and women you see delivering this chilling message are befitting those of a hostage video. Maybe some of these local anchors took to it with gusto, but I believe that number is few. That's not why people are drawn to journalism. And maybe you will say that they should have refused or even resigned in protest, but I know that one can grasp in desperation for rationalizations and compromise when one feels their livelihood is at risk. That is the bet that Sinclair and its allies in media and government are betting on - that they can chip away, with small strikes of the chisel, at the bedrock of American democracy. I suspect that the vast majority of the journalists you see in this video want to be in an environment where they can do their jobs, reporting the news fairly, without favor or bias. They need our support.
That is why it is incumbent for Americans of all political persuasions to say this is intolerable. Congress should hold hearings and call the executives of Sinclair to account, but one suspects that is highly unlikely in the current political environment. Will this spur citizens to elect representatives who recognize that this is a clear and present danger? Will enough people be outraged to bombard stations, and advertisors, with letters, phone calls, and tweets to suggest this is unacceptable?
For now, Sinclair is trying to explain away the controversy, and they have a powerful ally in the President. But as we saw with the advertisers bailing en masse from Laura Ingraham's Fox News show after she attacked a Parkland High School student activist in a Tweet, the voice of the people still matters. If enough people speak, they cannot be ignored.
A free and independent press must be part of #WhatUnitesUs
Here is the link to the video.