St. Louis' Sinclair station replaced local news with unhinged conspiracy theories from a wannabe Sean Hannity
Research ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN & PAM VOGEL
Conservative local TV news behemoth Sinclair Broadcast Group isn’t just pushing right-wing commentary in its national “must-run” segments. It’s also depriving its viewers in at least one city of any actual local news reporting at all, instead filling news airtime with an unhinged commentary show from local far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist Jamie Allman.
Sinclair has recently garnered widespread criticism for its plans to drastically expand its hold on local news in major cities and battleground states, and for its unusual practice of mandating that its stations across the country air regular right-wing commentary segments. But Sinclair's decision to replace typical newscasts at its St. Louis, MO, station with a Fox News-like commentary program laden with conspiracy theories reveals a more concerted decision to push right-wing talking points on unsuspecting local news audiences whenever possible. It also reveals the media giant’s complete disregard for the responsibility it has to provide its viewers with information in the public interest.
Beginning in 2015, the Sinclair-owned KDNL, an ABC-affiliated station branded as ABC 30, switched from broadcasting typical local news reports to instead offering its viewers three airings per day of The Allman Report. Billed as a “non-traditional newscast,” the 30-minute program airs during weekday time slots typically reserved for a local newscast: 6:30 a.m. leading into Good Morning America, 5 p.m leading into ABC World News Tonight, and 10 p.m. (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported last week that as part of Sinclair's proposed expansion, the company "disclosed its plans to expand morning and evening newscasts in St. Louis at 4:30 a.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., in a regulatory filing Thursday but didn’t say on what station.")
The Allman Report is hosted by Jamie Allman, a local conservative radio host. Allman’s TV show closely mimics the playbook for a classic Fox News evening commentary program. It touts a “debate-driven” and guest-heavy format and focuses on bread-and-butter conservative topics. Allman often delivers monologues that mirror former Fox host and current monster Bill O’Reilly’s “Talking Points Memo” or any of the unhinged commentaries Sean Hannity unleashes upon his audience nightly.
KDNL leadership admitted that the show would have a “conservative” bent when announcing its debut. But Allman’s extreme far-right rhetoric and fringe conspiracy theories go far beyond conservative spin. For years before Sinclair opted to give him a city-wide platform, Allman pushed numerous far-right conspiracy theories on his KTFK talk radio show, Allman in the Morning, which he continues to host regularly. He also employs patently offensive rhetoric targeted specifically at women, people of color, and immigrants on air and in social media. And yet, Sinclair has only magnified and legitimized his voice, as well as those of the extreme guests he favors.
As Sinclair continues to argue that its move toward further media consolidation will deliver higher quality news to its local audiences, it’s nevertheless feeding factually devoid trash to the people of St. Louis.
Allman bragged about being “the original Trump supporter in St. Louis.” Allman bragged on the August 29 edition of his television program that he was “the original Trump supporter in St. Louis.” [KDNL, The Allman Report, 8/29/17]
Allman vaguely threatened local Republican lawmakers who might skip an August visit from Trump. Ahead of a Missouri visit by President Donald Trump in August, Allman said on his radio show that he would “keep an eye” on and take down names of any Republican lawmakers who didn’t attend. On his television show, he also said that “there are people who are making lists, guaranteed,” of any Republican lawmakers who didn’t attend the event. From The Kansas City Star:
Speaking more generally, Allman promised to “keep an eye” on which Republican officials skipped Trump’s visit after noting Hawley’s family vacation.
“If you’re a Republican and you avoid being there, we’re taking your name,” he said. “That’s all. And you better have a really good excuse for not being there for the president of the United States, the Republican president of the United States, if you’re a Republican office holder in the state of Missouri.” [The Kansas City Star, 8/29/17; KDNL, The Allman Report, 8/28/17]
On his TV program, Allman called Mitch McConnell “the swamp king” for criticizing Trump. Allman lashed out at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), calling him “the swamp king” for criticizing Trump about his unrealistic expectations on health care reform. [KDNL, The Allman Report, 7/10/17]
Allman advertised a Trump coloring book on The Allman Report. Shortly after Trump’s election, Allman hosted local businessman Wayne Bell to help him sell his new Trump coloring book to viewers. The segment and ABC’s station website both included information on where viewers could purchase Bell’s books:
WAYNE BELL: I love this guy. Because he’s our president. That’s why I love this man.
This book is about love, it’s about peace, it’s about what this man says he’s going to do for America. And the book is designed to educate and help people understand he’s really going to create jobs. He’s going to help with inner cities, he’s going to help with the school systems, communities, immigration. [KDNL, The Allman Report, 11/17/16]
Allman wrote an opinion piece in 2011 touting Trump as a possible presidential candidate. An April 2011 opinion piece Allman published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expressed frustration with Republican presidential candidates from 2008, instead touting the many reasons Allman thought Trump would make a better candidate in the eyes of “fatigued conservatives,” including the suggestion that Trump is “grounded in reality.” From the end of the opinion piece:
Trump says if he's pushed out of the GOP nomination by the 2008ers, he might run as an independent.
Given the anxious Americans out there who are hungry for strong and accomplished leaders, that may be a great idea. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Nexis, 4/3/11]
Allman denied the reality of human-caused climate change, the link between climate change and dangerous hurricanes. After hurricanes Harvey and Irma ravaged the southeastern U.S., Allman declared on his TV program that climate change has “not really had an impact on these storms,” even though experts have linked extreme weather events to global warming. Allman also engaged in broader climate change denial, saying he believed global warming was real but that he denied "the extent to which man has contributed to it." Allman also falsely suggested there was not a scientific consensus on the causes of climate change. From the August 29 edition of KDNL’s The Allman Report:
JAMIE ALLMAN (HOST): Bottom line is, there’s a discussion to be had about global warming. But the bottom line is, to me, it’s not really had an impact on these storms. [KDNL, The Allman Report, 8/29/17; Time, 9/7/17; Media Matters, 3/16/17]
Allman claimed “we had a ton of problems” with voter fraud in St. Louis. During an interview with Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Allman claimed that voter impersonation “has been an issue,” adding that “during the 2016 election, there were proven cases of voter fraud, or what looked like voter fraud.” Allman also suggested “we had a ton of problems” with voter fraud in St. Louis. On a large scale, voter fraud, and particularly in-person voter fraud, has proved largely nonexistent. In Missouri, conservative lawmakers have pointed to a few isolated cases of voter fraud, but claims of widespread voter fraud in the state are unsubstantiated. [KDNL, The Allman Report, 7/6/17; Brennan Center for Justice, 1/31/17; Politico Magazine, 4/2/17; PolitiFact, 1/4/16]
Allman claimed Planned Parenthood sells “baby parts.” In July 2015, Allman discussed deceptive videos by the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress, alleging that they exposed Planned Parenthood executives “selling baby parts.” In reality, state and federal inquiries cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing and the activists behind the videos are facing multiple legal challenges for unlawfully recording people without permission and conspiracy to invade privacy. [Media Matters, 12/17/15; KDNL, The Allman Report, 7/24/15; Media Matters, 8/24/15; Los Angeles Times, 3/28/17]
Allman promoted conspiracy theory that former DNC staffer Seth Rich was an informant for Julian Assange. Shortly after Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich was murdered in July 2016, Allman hyped the conspiracy theory that Rich was an informant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that he gave emails from the DNC to Assange. Allman asserted that Assange has “a degree of credibility” and claimed it was possible Rich “was actually on his way to the FBI” when he was murdered. Allman also suggested that there was “no proof” that Rich was the victim of a robbery, despite police reports to the contrary. Allman also said conspiracy theories surrounding Rich’s death, including allegations from Assange, are “worthy of a discussion.” [KFTK, Allman in the Morning, 8/11/16, 8/10/16; Media Matters, 8/2/17]
Allman hyped a report that Rich may have copied emails from a server and given them to Russia. Almost a year after Allman first pushed the Rich conspiracy theory and several months after members of Rich’s family asked Hannity -- the biggest proponent of the bogus claim -- to stop discussing it, Allman hyped a report from the right-wing conspiracy theory website Gateway Pundit that he said “appears to disprove the theory that the DNC was hacked by Russia.” Allman gave oxygen to the report by asserting that emails from the DNC that appeared on WikiLeaks “were copied” by someone inside the organization. Allman noted that the report stated that the emails were allegedly copied “five days before Seth Rich was murdered,” although Allman said he was not “feeding” into conspiracy theories surrounding Rich’s murder. [The Gateway Pundit, 7/9/17; Media Matters, 5/23/17; KTFK, Allman in the Morning, 7/10/17]
Allman alluded to conspiracy theory that the Clintons killed former aide Vince Foster. On his radio show, Allman alluded to the false and thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory that Bill and Hillary Clinton were involved in the death of their aide Vince Foster. When a caller asserted that Clinton carried around a box of files on "various people in Washington," Allman said he "thought maybe it would be the heart of Vince Foster in that box." [The Washington Post, 5/25/16; KFTK, Allman in the Morning, 7/25/17]
Allman frequently shares articles from far-right sites like Breitbart.com and has retweeted far-right conspiracy theorists like Paul Joseph Watson and Jack Posobiec. Allman has also engaged on Twitter with conspiracy theorist site Gateway Pundit and retweeted images of Pepe, a cartoon frog co-opted by the white nationalist “alt-right” and far-right groups. [Twitter, 7/28/17, 8/2/17, 8/8/17, 8/28/17, 9/7/17, accessed 9/26/17]
Allman wrote an opinion piece for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch saying that LED lightbulbs were too dim, blaming environmentalists. Allman managed to include in the piece a joke that then-President Barack Obama was a “secret Muslim socialist.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 9/21/11]
After the Las Vegas shooting, Allman hosted a gun seller, who sponsors his radio show and has personally sold Allman guns, who claimed that gun safety advocates are "trying to ban all firearms." The day after a mass shooting in Las Vegas, NV, which killed more than 50 people and injured more than 500, Allman hosted Mark Campbell of Mid America Arms, noting that the store is "a sponsor on the Allman morning show." Allman also said he is "an avid customer," adding that he has "a few great guns from you guys." Campbell went on to allege that those advocating for gun safety measures are going "one baby step at a time trying to ban all firearms," and Allman agreed. [KDNL, The Allman Report, 10/2/17]
On his TV program, Allman railed against those who refused to use the anti-immigrant slur “illegal immigrants.” In a July edition of his TV program, Allman lashed out against those who refuse to use the anti-immigrant slurs “illegal” and “alien.” Allman has used the slur “illegal aliens” multiple times on his own Twitter account. [KDNL, The Allman Report, 7/31/17; Twitter.com, accessed 9/26/17]
Allman claimed there’s “technically not much” difference between Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and George Washington. Following Trump’s botched response to the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, VA, Allman attempted to defend him by claiming that there is “technically not much” difference between Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and President George Washington. [KDNL, The Allman Report, 8/16/17]
Allman suggested Obama was the “first victim” of Trump’s travel ban, or else was arrested for “airport weed.”
DANG you see this ? Travel ban's first victim! Or I hope it wasn't airport weed . pic.twitter.com/hjRutrRAR3
— jamieallman (@jallman971) June 29, 2017
Allman: Colin Kaepernick is a “black privileged NFL scrub.”
YEH those checks go to black privileged NFL scrubs like Colin K.
— jamieallman (@jallman971) January 3, 2017
Allman called political analyst Earl Hutchinson “another lazy black sage who hasn’t tweeted since August” after Hutchinson penned an op-ed about black Trump voters.
— jamieallman (@jallman971) November 16, 2016
Allman has repeatedly referred to women as “skank[s].” Allman has used the sexist term “skank” to describe several women, including comedian Chelsea Handler and women who criticized Melania Trump’s shoes.
Left skank believes Melania's tennis shoes were purchased at an airborne shoe store. Never ceases to amaze. https://t.co/8W5wqxqNYX
— jamieallman (@jallman971) August 29, 2017
poor angry skank triggered by Melania's heels. Didn't follow up when FLOTUS arrived wearing tennis shoes. Oh well. https://t.co/zpZpNjbpsB
— jamieallman (@jallman971) August 29, 2017
Allman meme: “Get in pussy. We’re making America great again.”
— jamieallman (@jallman971) August 11, 2017
Allman: “Happy Father’s Day all !! And ladies tell your daddies I thank them for you !!”
Happy Father's Day all !! And ladies tell your daddies I thank them for you !!
— jamieallman (@jallman971) June 18, 2017
Allman called Seth Meyers a “liberal pussy” and Kellyanne Conway’s “immediate bitch” as he tweeted about Meyers’ interview with Conway.
Just in case you missed Seth Meyers being exposed as the Pussy that he is. KAC's immediate bitch https://t.co/CCPTlXKZk4
— jamieallman (@jallman971) January 12, 2017
— jamieallman (@jallman971) January 12, 2017
Allman called journalists “enemies of the people.”
Enemies of the People https://t.co/vlLWmYUQU3
— jamieallman (@jallman971) July 3, 2017
Allman tweeted a bloody image from the Charlie Hebdo attacks in response to the magazine’s recent controversial cover.
— jamieallman (@jallman971) September 1, 2017
Allman lashed out at “meth heads,” “hillbilly chemists,” and “hopeless hicks” after a bill was introduced to limit over-the-counter purchases of a drug used for methamphetamine production. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Nexis, 3/16/11]
One of Allman’s most frequent TV guests is a birther with ties to the Koch-backed organization ALEC. One of Allman’s most frequent TV guests is Tim Jones, a former Republican Missouri speaker of the House. Jones was involved in a 2009 lawsuit alleging that Obama “was born overseas and therefore should be ineligible to serve as president.” Jones also has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization backed by oil magnates Charles and David Koch that puts together “model policies” for conservative lawmakers. [ABCStLouis.com, 6/12/17, 6/2/17; Riverfront Times, 10/29/09; Progress Missouri, accessed 9/26/17; PRWatch, 7/13/11, American Legislative Exchange Council, accessed 9/26/17]
Allman hosted anti-feminist author Suzanne Venker to plug her newest book on The Allman Report. Allman hosted Suzanne Venker, the niece of the late conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, on his television program in May to promote her new book. Venker has been an outspoken critic of feminism and has claimed that “the so-called rise of women has come at men’s expense. Men have been disempowered.” [KDNL, The Allman Report, 5/18/17; Media Matters, 2/9/17, 5/5/15; FoxNews.com, 6/12/13]
Allman hosted Gateway Pundit editor and professional troll Jim Hoft on his radio show. Allman has repeatedly hosted Gateway Pundit Editor Jim Hoft on his radio program. Hoft is a conspiracy theorist who has hyped absurd claims, including that Obama’s birth certificate was fake and that the former president “had his own 2012 Confederate flag pin.” [Twitter, 6/12/17; FM NewsTalk 97.1, 7/3/17; YouTube, 10/24/16; Media Matters, 1/25/17, 9/21/10]
Allman has hosted anti-Muslim extremist Pamela Geller on his radio show numerous times. Anti-Muslim extremist Pamela Geller has appeared regularly on Allman’s radio show for years to share bigoted conspiracy theories with listeners, at one point telling Allman that “Hillary Clinton has declared that she will ‘shut down’ Breitbart.com if she becomes president, a nonexistent declaration that Geller said represented ‘the Sharia’ and ‘totalitarianism,’” according to Right Wing Watch. [Right Wing Watch, 8/31/16; Twitter, 3/10/16, 6/8/16; FM NewsTalk 97.1, 5/29/13, 6/24/13, 4/19/17]
On Allman’s radio show, bigot Todd Starnes compared the University of Mississippi’s decision to stop using the Confederate anthem to what ISIS is doing in Iraq. [Right Wing Watch, 8/23/16; Media Matters, 4/6/12]