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  • Sinclair and the midterms: Tennessee edition

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    If you live in a midsize city or battleground state, you are now more likely than ever to see propaganda bolstering President Donald Trump and conservative spin on your local news -- just in time for the 2018 election season -- thanks to conservative media giant Sinclair Broadcast Group.

    Media Matters has identified communities that will see competitive congressional midterm races and that have Sinclair-owned or -operated news stations. Many Sinclair stations are already airing national news programming with a conservative slant, and they will be ramping up coverage of their local races.

    We’ve already tackled Nevada. Now, we’re taking a look at Tennessee.

    Key 2018 race

    • Senate: Tennessee has an open Senate seat this year, and the race is considered a toss-up by Cook Political Report as of publication. The current front-runners are U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat.

    Sinclair stations in state

    WTVC (NewsChannel 9) and WFLI (The CW) in Chattanooga

    WZTV (Fox 17), WUXP (My30), and WNAB (CW58) in Nashville

    • Sinclair-owned WZTV (Fox 17) also regularly airs at least some of Sinclair’s “must-run” content, including nationally produced news packages, fearmongering “Terrorism Alert Desk” updates, and the weekly show Full Measure.
    • Sinclair-owned WUXP (My30) shares a main studio address with Fox 17 and re-airs at least some of Fox 17’s local news programming.
    • Nashville Broadcasting-owned WNAB (The CW58) “receives certain services from an affiliation of Sinclair Broadcast Group” and also shares a main studio address with Fox 17 and My30. It does not appear to regularly air news programming.

    Coming soon: WREG (News Channel 3) in Memphis

    • WREG (News Channel 3) in Memphis is currently owned by Tribune Media but will soon be owned by Sinclair if the company’s pending acquisition of up to 42 Tribune stations is approved.

    What else you need to know

    Sinclair’s political action committee gave a total of $4,500 to Blackburn’s Senate campaign committee in 2017. Blackburn currently serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and she chairs its Subcommittee on Communications and Technology -- an important subcommittee for Sinclair.

    Are there Sinclair stations near you?

    Use Media Matters’ interactive map at FindSinclair.com to learn more.

    Graphics by Sarah Wasko.

  • Sinclair and the midterms: Nevada edition

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    If you live in a midsize city or battleground state, you are now more likely than ever to see propaganda bolstering President Donald Trump and conservative spin on your local news -- just in time for the 2018 election season -- thanks to conservative media giant Sinclair Broadcast Group.

    Media Matters has identified communities that will see competitive congressional midterm races and that have Sinclair-owned or -operated news stations. Many Sinclair stations are already airing national news programming with a conservative slant, and they will be ramping up coverage of their local races.

    First, we’re looking at Nevada.

    Key 2018 races

    • Senate: The contest between incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller and Democrat challenger Rep. Jacky Rosen is rated a toss-up by Cook Political Report as of publication.
    • House: Nevada’s third congressional district (NV-3) south of Las Vegas is an open race rated as “lean Democratic” by Cook Political Report as of publication.  
    • Governor: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is not eligible to run in 2018. The election is thus an open race, and it was rated a toss-up by Cook Political Report as of publication.  

    Sinclair stations in state

    KSNV (NBC 3) and KVCW (The CW) in Las Vegas

    KRXI (Fox 11), KRNV (NBC News 4) and KAME (My21) in Reno

    • Sinclair owns and operates KRXI (Fox 11). A Media Matters search of the iQ media database found that Fox 11 aired the scripted promotional segment narrated by Bill Frankmore and Melissa Carlson at least six times between March 23 and March 30.
    • Sinclair also provides operations support for two other stations in Reno, KRNV (NBC News 4) and KAME (a MyNetwork affiliate branded as My21), through shared service agreements. All three Reno stations also share a studio space, and My21 does not appear to have its own website, instead posting its schedule on the Fox 11 site.

    KENV in Elko

    • KENV is licensed to serve Elko -- considered part of the Salt Lake City, UT, media market -- but serves as a semi-satellite to KRNV in Reno, meaning that it airs some of the same news programs but may have different branding. It also shares a studio space with KRXI, KRNV, and KAME in Reno. 

    What else you need to know

    Sinclair’s political action committee gave $1,500 to Heller’s re-election campaign committee in September 2015. Heller serves on the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, including on its subcommittee related to communications and technology -- an important subcommittee for Sinclair.

    In January and February press releases, Heller touted Sinclair, among other businesses, for giving “their employees special bonuses and raises” after the passage of the Trump/GOP tax law.

    Here’s footage of NBC 3 airing a March “Bottom Line with Boris” segment in which former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn downplayed a potential Democrat wave in 2018 midterms:

    Are there Sinclair stations near you?

    Use Media Matters’ interactive map at FindSinclair.com to learn more.

    Graphics by Sarah Wasko. 

    UPDATE: This post has been updated to include the Nevada gubernatorial race. 

  • Sinclair is flooding local news with pro-Trump propaganda. Find out if it owns a station near you.

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH, MILES LE & SARAH WASKO

    President Donald Trump has a secret weapon that might just ensure his re-election. Sinclair Broadcast Group is a Trump-friendly media company that is notorious for pushing right-wing propaganda. The company already owns or operates more than 190 local stations across the country and is close to acquiring Tribune Media. With this merger, Sinclair would be able to reach more than 70 percent of American TV households that have a TV.

    Media Matters is now launching FindSinclair.com so you can find out if Sinclair controls a local news station near you. FindSinclair.com has information on Sinclair stations across the country, resources about the company, and an interactive map that can show you if it owns or operates one of your local stations.

    Video by Dayanita Ramesh, Miles Le, and Sarah Wasko

  • Sinclair personality faces boycott after saying he wants to “ram a hot poker up David Hogg’s ass” 

    Jamie Allman’s abusive tactics may finally be catching up with him

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    UPDATE: Asked about Allman’s comments about David Hogg by The Washington Post, a spokesperson for Sinclair said, “We have accepted Mr. Allman’s resignation, and his show has been cancelled.”

    ORIGINAL POST:

    Conservative TV and radio host Jamie Allman, Sinclair’s primary local news personality in St. Louis, MO, is now facing a boycott after tweeting on March 26 that he wants to “ram a hot poker up David Hogg’s ass.” The horrific attack on the Parkland, FL, high school shooting survivor is just the latest from Allman, who has a history of engaging in unhinged online abuse and hateful commentary. 

    On April 6, local alt-weekly the Riverfront Times reported on a threatening tweet that had been circulating around social media in which Allman stated that he’d “been hanging out getting ready to ram a hot poker up David Hogg’s ass tomorrow . Busy working . Preparing .”

    Allman hosts both a morning radio show and a nightly news show called The Allman Report on KDNL (ABC 30), the St. Louis TV news station owned and operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that, in response to Allman’s tweet, state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) called for an advertiser boycott of Allman’s show -- and some advertisers have now discontinued their spots on his radio show.

    Allman’s disgusting attack on the high school student echoes obsessive targeting of Hogg by far-right conspiracy theorists and should be no surprise to local viewers and others familiar with Allman’s history of online harassment and abusive rhetoric. Media Matters first documented Allman’s extremism in October, noting his promotion of fringe conspiracy theories, use of anti-immigrant slurs and race-baiting language on air, and frequent misogynist tweets. Many of these examples predated his hiring by Sinclair -- but none of this seems to matter to the local TV news giant.

    In fact, in 2015, the Sinclair station began running what it calls Allman’s “non-traditional newscast” in place of any straightforward local news broadcast, airing each edition three times per weekday during time slots typically reserved for news updates.  

    And Allman has discussed Hogg twice on his Sinclair news show since his March 26 tweet. On the March 30 edition of The Allman Report, he tried to make a case for attacking the teenagers, arguing that Hogg “can’t have it both ways” and had to choose between being a “kid” or being “a revolutionary.” Allman went on to accuse the Parkland students of “grabbing [their] blanket” whenever they were criticized.

    On April 3, Allman again mocked Parkland students for their opposition to some heightened security measures at the school, such as being required to use clear backpacks. At one point he imitated a student whining, “This place feels like a prison!” Allman also zeroed in on Hogg specifically and suggested it was “very confusing” that Hogg would advocate for the right to carry different types of backpacks but not different types of guns.

    Sinclair was largely silent in response to the publication of Media Matters’ research on Allman last October. Allman, however, locked down his Twitter account briefly before unlocking it to tweet bonkers, sometimes threatening messages at this author for an hour straight, between 2 and 3 a.m. one morning. The tweets included photoshopped images of me, images of Carrie (from the eponymous film) covered in blood, and claims I hate my father and have a drinking problem.

    Allman has now locked down his Twitter account again and, according to the Riverfront Times, the account was silent yesterday after spending two days retweeting supporters in defiance. Because I had reported the account previously, I received a vague update from Twitter yesterday that Allman’s account has now been found in violation of the platform’s rules against abusive behavior.

  • A Sinclair national correspondent frequently interviewed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for Russian-funded TV

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Before she became a national correspondent for Sinclair Broadcast Group, Kristine Frazao worked for the Kremlin-backed network RT (formerly Russia Today), where she interviewed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on more than 20 occasions. During those friendly interviews, Frazao allowed Jones to push conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks, 2011 Norway shooting, and 2005 London bombings, among other events.

    In an email to Media Matters, Frazao stated that being at RT had given her a “refreshing” opportunity to report “on less covered subjects” but said she's now “very glad” to no longer work there. She also said she had no role in booking Jones as a guest. 

    Sinclair Broadcast Group has drawn heavy criticism recently for mandating that its local news anchors participate in identical segments echoing President Donald Trump’s anti-press attacks. The company has a history of pushing conservative content on its local stations and currently requires them to air "must-run" segments featuring former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn.

    Frazao’s role within Sinclair and prior employment with RT have also come under scrutiny in recent days after she produced a March 21 segment in which “former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka parroted a Trump talking point regarding the existence of a ‘Deep State’ attempting to undermine the U.S. government,” as SeattlePI.com wrote. That segment aired on at least 22 stations in 15 states, according to a Media Matters review.

    Before joining Sinclair, Frazao worked as an anchor and correspondent for RT from December 2009 to January 2013. U.S. intelligence agencies and media observers have criticized the Kremlin-backed RT for airing propaganda and conspiracy theories over the years. RT was one of the early enablers of Alex Jones and his conspiratorial rhetoric (Donald Trump and his allies have now embraced the once-fringe host).

    Frazao told Media Matters that when she joined RT, she "found the opportunity to report on less covered subjects to be refreshing and, ultimately, an important catalyst for my growth as a journalist. I become more familiar with different, less US-centered viewpoints." She added that her view on the network has changed, writing: "Time has shown with Russia's invasion of Crimea and the 2016 election that RT has gone in a different and troubling direction- one that does not align with most noble pursuits of our profession. I am very glad that I no longer work there."

    Regarding her on-air segments with Jones, Frazao said she "did not have a role in booking Alex Jones or any other guest. We were told which guests were appearing on the shows and what the topics would be."

    "I can tell you that RT had a keen interest on growing their internet audience and our producers and guest bookers knew that Alex Jones has a large online following," Frazao said. "Our producers seemed to think that because of that, his perspective was relevant."

    As a contrast to her Jones interviews, Frazao pointed to work she did on RT involving civil rights for American Muslims, contaminated water because of fracking, and the suicide rate among Native Americans.

    RT described Jones as one of its “frequent contributors” and regularly hosted him during the Obama administration. Though Jones no longer appears on the network as frequently, he estimated last year that he has appeared on it "200 times." Jones has claimed that he was told years ago that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “a big listener" and was previously informed that the “Russian government listens to" his show and that the Kremlin partially “modeled” RT off of his Infowars network.

    As Media Matters has documented, the right-wing host has used his own program to push toxic and false claims about the 9/11 attacks and the tragedies at Columbine, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and the Boston Marathon, among others. He has also spread conspiracy theories about Pizzagate (and was later forced to issue an apology for pushing smears).

    At the time of the Frazao interviews, Jones’ website referred to him as “one of the very first founding fathers of the 9-11 Truth Movement” and he had been gaining notice in the media for pushing fringe conspiracy theories.

    Media Matters reviewed 22 interviews* that Frazao conducted with Jones from 2010-2012. Jones told Frazao and RT viewers that there’s a “criminal, illegitimate, foreign banking cartel that runs America and stages the terror attacks”; the United States government faked Osama bin Laden’s death; the government set up the “underwear bomber”; and 9/11, the 2011 Norway shooting, and the 2005 London bombings were “false flag” attacks.

    During one interview, Frazao told Jones, “It’s a good thing, though, that you’re getting a lot of press out there. As they say, no press is bad press, and certainly your message is getting out there.” In a segment about the U.S. State Department fighting propaganda, Frazao said: “Who better to talk to about this than radio host Alex Jones.”

    While talking about news that year about actor Charlie Sheen, Frazao said to Jones: “First of all, do you think that he said what he said on your show because you're not like the rest, because you give a platform for people to not have to be P.C.? And second, I’m wondering what you think about the fact that you’re being so sought out after now because of it?”

    Commenting on the nature of the Jones interviews, Frazao told Media Matters she tries “to be courteous and respectful to everyone that I interview- no matter their personal opinions or mine.”

    In a May 2011 interview with Frazao, Jones said that the U.S. government helped Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber, get on a plane to attempt to bomb it. He then said that Osama bin Laden wasn’t actually killed in 2011 but died years before and then was frozen so he could be rolled out at a convenient time.

    He later stated that there’s a “criminal, illegitimate, foreign banking cartel that runs America and stages the terror attacks or finds mindless patsies run by their MI6, Mossad, CIA handlers like Anwar al-Awlaki, the CIA lackey, and Adam the American Gadahn.” Frazao ended the segment by stating: “All right, certainly an interesting and unique perspective as always.”  

    In a July 2011 video, Jones said the Norway shooting that month was a “very sophisticated form of false flag attack where whether [the shooter is] a mind-control patsy or whether he believes he's acting as part of this, this Illuminati Knights Templar knighthood, it is invoking a clash of civilizations.” The segment ran with the on-screen text: “Decoding the symbols: Did Masonic psychology inspire Oslo attacks?”

    During a November 2011 segment, Jones suggested that the United States government wants to impose martial law on the country.

    The following month, Jones said that his sources say Osama bin Laden actually “died many years ago of kidney failure.” He then said that the government is “monitoring people that are aware that government and corporations use drills to cover-up real false flag terror attacks or frame-ups that they're going to run and time and time again since we've discovered that 9/11 had drills of the same targets being hit, 7/7 in London had drills of the same targets being hit. They do this drill business over and over and over again to cover real operations. Same thing with a Norway shooter.”

    The Jones segments are posted on YouTube with such dizzying headlines as: “NWO: 'Bilderberg controls the world' -- Alex Jones”; “Alex Jones: Senate wants martial law in America”; “Alex Jones doesn't buy Bin Laden's death”; “Alex Jones: The globalists have kept us from having kids”; and “Alex Jones: 'Anders Behring Breivik was Masons' Patsy.'”

    *Videos from: 3/25/10, 4/15/10, 6/1/10, 10/4/10, 1/6/11; 1/30/11, 3/3/11; 3/17/11, 3/29/11, 5/2/11, 5/26/11, 6/10/11, 7/25/11, 8/18/11, 9/1/11, 9/20/11, 11/16/11, 11/29/11, 12/28/11, 1/19/12, 4/9/12, 4/30/12.

    Pam Vogel contributed research to this post.

  • Sinclair's Boris Epshteyn defends his commentary and compares himself to a doctor in a “must-run” segment

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Sinclair Broadcast Group is defending itself with a brand-new “must-run” segment amid public backlash over a series of eerily similar anti-media promotional segments that Sinclair instructed its local news anchors to produce, packaging it as an “anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message.”

    In March, CNN’s Brian Stelter obtained internal documents Sinclair sent to its local TV news stations requiring them to film and air short promotional segments decrying “biased and false news” and accusing unnamed mainstream media figures of bias -- an echo of President Donald Trump’s frequent attacks on the press. The ads began airing on March 23, and days later, Deadspin’s Timothy Burke edited many of the similar segments into an creepy viral video that made Sinclair’s propagandistic intentions all too clear.

    Widespread coverage of the segments culminated earlier this week when cable news programs started discussing the videos, likely leading to Trump himself tweeting multiple times in Sinclair’s defense.

    Sinclair employees are speaking out in frustration, saying they felt the scripted segments “advanced the company’s agenda at the expense of their own credibility.” Company executives are now defending themselves too -- largely by attempting to redirect the conversation to the credibility of other news organizations. Sinclair CEO David Smith told New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi that print media writ large is “so left wing as to be meaningless dribble” and has “no credibility.” (Smith has attacked other media outlets in the past, echoing similar tactics used by Roger Ailes at Fox News to drive a wedge between viewers and other sources of information.)

    In a lengthy internal document that Stelter obtained this week, Sinclair leadership asserted that critical coverage of Sinclair was “misleading” and “often defamatory” and called the scripted segments a “well-researched journalistic initiative.”  

    Sinclair’s chief political analyst, former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn, is also defending Sinclair with a combination of similar attacks on other news outlets (specifically and tellingly against CNN, the outlet that broke the story of Sinclair’s latest scripted segments) and gaslight-y, vague arguments against media bias. In his morning newsletter, Epshteyn wrote, “I sincerely hope those bashing the message read by Sinclair station anchors are not really, as it seems, on the side of bias and false news.”

    Now Sinclair is returning to its local news airwaves to escalate its defense. Rather than hear updates about local school board meetings or community events, audiences tuning into Sinclair-owned or -operated stations across the country will instead be treated to this diatribe from Epshteyn. He doesn't address the scripted segments, but rather focuses on defending his own commentary segments:

    BORIS EPSHTEYN: I want to talk to you about my job. I am in the analysis, opinion and commentary business. Yes, I worked for President Trump during the 2016 campaign. I worked on the inaugural and I was at the White House. I was also on the McCain campaign in 2008 and was a surrogate for the Romney campaign in 2012. Some critics would have you believe that my experience somehow disqualifies me from providing you with my analysis and commentary.

    But here’s a question: Wouldn’t you want someone talking to you about politics only if he had actually worked in politics and knew the people he was talking about? I know that I would want someone giving opinions about medicine only if they were an actual doctor. In terms of my analysis playing during your local news, as you see, my segments are very clearly marked as commentary. The same cannot be said for cable and broadcast news hosts who inject their opinions and bias into news coverage all the time without drawing any lines between them.

    Here is the bottom line: I am proud to be the chief political analyst at Sinclair. My goal with every segment is to tell you facts which you may not already know and then my take on those facts. I am thrilled to keep sharing the truth and my perspective with you, day in and day out. Thank you for tuning in.

  • Here are the "manipulative" ads Sinclair forced local anchors to read, now airing across the country

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Weeks after CNN reported that Sinclair was requiring its local anchors to film promotional segments attacking the “irresponsible, one-sided stories plaguing our country,” the widely lambasted segments have begun to air on stations around the country.

    Earlier in March, CNN obtained internal documents sent to Sinclair Broadcast Group’s local TV news stations requiring them to film and air short segments decrying “biased and false news” and accusing mainstream media figures of bias. In the script obtained by CNN, Sinclair reporters focused on mainstream press, attacking unnamed "national media outlets" for publishing "fake stories." At points, the script appears to echo President Donald Trump's attacks on press with cries of "fake news." (Though the final version of the script, as NPR noted in an interview with a Sinclair executive about the promotional spots, no longer included "the word national ... coupled to the word media.") Reporters at some of the Sinclair-owned or -operated stations shared concerns with CNN’s Brian Stelter, calling the corporate-dictated segment requirements “inappropriate” and “manipulative.”

    Apart from disparaging statements about non-Sinclair news outlets, the ads mostly contain trite and inoffensive statements supporting responsible, “balanced” journalism -- and that’s part of the problem. As Stelter noted, “On its face, some of the language is not controversial. But that's precisely why some staffers were so troubled by it. The promo script, they say, belies Sinclair management's actual agenda to tilt reporting to the right.” One staffer told CNN they “felt like a POW recording a message.”

    A Media Matters search of the iQ media database found that between March 23 and March 27, at least 62 Sinclair stations reaching 29 states and D.C. have now run their own versions of the scripted segment. In the clips, local news anchors say things like, “I’m concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.” The Sinclair employees also largely seemed to follow the other reported instructions delivered from the Sinclair corporate offices, such as wearing politically neutral colors (e.g. not red or blue).

    Here are just three examples, from stations in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Nevada:

    WPEC (CBS 12) in West Palm Beach, FL

    WHP (CBS 21) in Harrisburg, PA

    KRXI (Fox 11) in Reno, NV

    Here is a full transcript from one of the segments (there are slight variations among the videos).

    Hi, I’m [name] with [station]. Our greatest responsibility is to serve our communities. I am extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that [station] produces, but I’m 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 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 our democracy.

    At [station], it is our responsibility to report and pursue the truth. We understand the truth is neither politically left nor right. Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility now more than ever. But we are human, and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair, please reach out through our [station] website by clicking on “Content Concerns.” We value your comments and we will respond back to you.

    We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced, and factual. We consider it our honor and privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day. Thank you for watching, and we appreciate your feedback.

    These segments are Sinclair’s latest attempt to sneak pro-Trump messaging into local media outlets. The media company’s chief political analyst, former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn, routinely echoes his former boss in attacking mainstream media outlets he believes are too critical of the president. And in a segment that aired across Sinclair news stations last March, Sinclair’s vice president for news, Scott Livingston, read from a virtually identical promotional script.

    Sinclair is now well-known for its history of abusing public trust to air right-wing spin and promote xenophobia on local news shows, and the company is currently awaiting federal approval to finalize a massive acquisition that will help it spread its conservative propaganda further across the country.

    The corporate promotional segments have aired (very often, more than once) on at least the following local TV news stations:

  • Media outlets are citing a hate group in reports about Trump's planned census change for 2020

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Media outlets are citing the anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) in reports about the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census, which experts say will jeopardize its accuracy.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has called CIS founder John Tanton “the father of the modern nativist movement” and designated his organization a hate group because it “churns out a constant stream of fear-mongering misinformation about Latino immigrants.” Also contributing to the decision to designate was CIS' “repeated circulation of white nationalist and anti-Semitic writers in its weekly newsletter and the commissioning of a policy analyst who had previously been pushed out of the conservative Heritage Foundation for his embrace of racist pseudoscience.” CIS personnel have a record of making racist commentary and portraying immigrants as dangerous criminals. Yet, all too often, media outlets treat CIS as a credible voice in immigration debates, and they frequently fail to identify either its anti-immigrant views or its white nationalist ties.

    This is happening again in reports regarding the Trump administration’s announcement that it will add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. At least a dozen states oppose the move and have indicated they will sue the administration to prevent the question from being added, and census and civil rights experts have said adding such a question will reduce response rates from immigrants, jeopardizing the census’ accuracy. Yet CIS has defended the addition of a citizenship question, and news reports from both conservative and mainstream outlets are discussing the organization’s support of the Trump administration move.

    A Minnesota Star Tribune article quoted CIS, as did a column from the Boston Herald’s Adriana Cohen. D.C.’s ABC affiliate station WJLA (owned by the pro-Trump Sinclair Broadcasting Group) also cited CIS research, and ABC Radio’s D.C. affiliate WTOP briefly cited CIS’ defense of adding the citizenship question. Four different Fox News shows also cited CIS in their March 27 coverage of the census change: Happening Now, Outnumbered Overtime, The Daily Briefing, and Special Report. A March 28 FoxNews.com column defending the administration’s move linked to a CIS study. Fox host Laura Ingraham’s radio show hosted CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian on March 27 to criticize Democrats’ response to the move, and Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard extensively quoted CIS to justify adding a citizenship question to the census.

    Only WTOP and the Star Tribune mentioned CIS’ agenda, saying simply that the group “pushes for decreased immigration” and has “advocated for tougher immigration regulations.” But those descriptors hardly inform voters about CIS’ problematic origins or its continuing associations with white nationalists and other bigots. Legitimate media outlets should not cite anti-immigrant groups as sources of unbiased information at all -- and if they do, they should clearly label them as such.

  • Sinclair's Boris Epshteyn: A pro-Trump Republican struggling in Pennsylvania is actually good news for Trump

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Boris Epshteyn, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s chief shill for President Donald Trump, was definitely not worried about the special election in Pennsylvania yesterday, and he is not worried now that the results remain too close to call. In the alternate universe Sinclair and Epshteyn promote to local news viewers across the country, the brewing upset is actually good for Republicans and Trump.

    Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, which voted for Trump by a 20-point margin in 2016, held a special election last night to replace former Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned last year. The race should have been an easy win for the GOP in a reliably red district, but as of publication, it remains officially "too close to call," with Democrat Conor Lamb leading Republican Rick Saccone by a tiny margin.

    But Boris Epshteyn, the No. 1 Trump propagandist at conservative local TV news giant Sinclair Broadcast Group and a former Trump aide, thinks that this outcome is somehow good for Republicans and doesn’t reflect poorly on Trump -- and he wants local news audiences to see it the same way.

    Epshteyn kicked off election day with a pre-emptively dismissive note in his morning email newsletter, arguing, “An election in one district in Pennsylvania in March does not indicate how the rest of that state, let alone the country, is going to vote in November.”

    As the results were coming in last night, Epshteyn took to Twitter to declare the close race “already a good result for the Republican Party” and ask, “Where is that Democrat passion everyone is talking about?” His tweets quickly met the fate of many scorching takes: a high ratio of mocking replies from other users.

    (Epshteyn attributed the mass mocking of his election analysis to “triggered” liberals upset that he was “hitting a nerve and calling it right.”)

    This morning, Epshteyn continued his attempts to spin the Pennsylvania results with a quick note in his newsletter to tell his fans that the election is just not a big deal:


    Breakfast with Boris newsletter

    Epshteyn also promoted his live appearances this morning on several Sinclair stations in Maryland, Ohio, Florida, and even Pennsylvania to talk about the results. They were even worse. In his morning spot on WBFF/Fox 45, Sinclair’s flagship station in Baltimore, he argued that Saccone had actually benefited from a “Trump bump” because the race was too close to call instead of a blowout for Lamb:

    BORIS EPSHTEYN: Saccone was down by about six points going into the final weekend. Now it’s tied. I don’t see how this is a negative for the Republicans. I see it as a positive.

    TOM RODGERS (ANCHOR): Well, everyone keeps going -- saying, “Well, look, Trump won it by 20 points.” So because Trump was campaigning for him --

    EPSHTEYN: Sure.

    RODGERS: -- do you see the connection there that says maybe Trump hurt him? Or do you see it that Trump helped him with the election when we’re looking at Saccone’s votes?

    EPSHTEYN: Well, the president really made one true appearance where he endorsed and helped Saccone. Overall, you’re right. Saccone was down by six points, the president came in, now it’s tied. You’re seeing a Trump bump of about six points. But it’s very different from having Donald Trump on the ballot in 2016 to now having a special election where he’s not on the ballot and made one appearance. The two are not the same at all.

    Epshteyn has now also released online a "must-run" segment focused on the Pennsylvania special election. In the clip, he argues that the race is "not necessarily" any "indication of a Democrat wave for the midterms in November," and reminds viewers that "the president was not on the ballot."

    Many may have missed Epshteyn’s weird, transparently pro-Trump defenses of the election outcome so far -- especially considering what little interest the public seems to have in his takes. But his latest Trump propaganda missive will be force-fed to viewers across the country now, as Sinclair mandates that all its news stations air Epshteyn’s desperate spin.