Former aide to President Donald Trump and current administration media shill Boris Epshteyn is now using local television news spots across the country to back Trump in his disgraceful “both sides” treatment of violent neo-Nazism and white supremacy in Charlottesville, VA.
Epshteyn is the chief political analyst of Sinclair Broadcast Group, a conservative local TV giant that currently owns and operates 173 stations in 33 states and the District of Columbia. He produces several 90-second commentary videos each week, which Sinclair dictates must be aired on all its stations nationwide. There is apparently no required disclosure Epshteyn must make in the segments he produces to inform viewers across the country that they’re hearing commentary from a former Trump staffer, even as his defenses of Trump’s most indefensible moments grow increasingly embarrassing.
Epshteyn may have reached a new low last night with his take on Trump’s chilling defenses of neo-Nazis and white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville last weekend.
On August 11, a white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally kicked off with a tiki torch-wielding mob chanting “Jews will not replace us” on the University of Virginia campus in defense of a Confederate statue. The next day, the large gathering turned violent, when a neo-Nazi drove a car into the crowd of ralliers and counter-protesters, murdering anti-racism activist Heather Heyer. On Saturday, Trump issued a short statement refusing to specifically call out the white supremacists and neo-Nazis behind the rally, instead pointing to blame "on many sides." Following two days of intense criticism, Trump issued a low-energy statement Monday nominally condemning the KKK and white supremacists, then completely undermined that statement in an unhinged Tuesday press conference where he returned to pinning blame on “both sides,” and claimed that there were "very fine people" included among the white supremacists.
And yet, Epshteyn’s segment begins, “The sky is blue. Does the president have to repeat that fact day-in and day-out for us to believe it? No, he does not.”
The “Bottom Line with Boris” segment completely ignores Trump’s statements on Charlottesville aside from his Teleprompter-dependent, hostage video from the White House on Monday afternoon in which he finally specifically condemned neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. Epshteyn did not acknowledge Trump’s initial comments about the rally, in which he referred to violence “on many sides,” nor did he acknowledge Trump’s Tuesday press conference in which he gave “white supremacists an unequivocal boost.”
Epshteyn ends the segment with a personal note, explaining that he is Jewish and thus knows that Trump is not anti-Semitic. This analysis, however, does not account for years of Trump’s public footsie with prominent white nationalists and anti-Semites, including former KKK grand wizard David Duke.
Sinclair’s other two right-wing “must-run” commentary segments -- “Behind the Headlines” with Mark Hyman and the “Terrorism Alert Desk” -- have yet to address the terror in Charlottesville. (Here are the “Terrorism Alert Desk” segments that ran on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday on Sinclair-owned Virginia station WSET.)
Local TV news viewers from Maine to Utah -- including some in Charlottesville’s backyard -- may have seen this segment last night or this morning as they turned to their local station for the news of the day. Folks in other cities and states across the country are also watching, waiting to hear if Sinclair will soon own their local TV station and extend the reach of its Trump apologism to Chicago or New Orleans, too.