From the April 2 edition of Dial Global's The Bill Press Show:
BILL PRESS (HOST): Sinclair Broadcasting. Right? First of all, who are they?
MATT GERTZ: Right. So Sinclair Broadcasting is a large corporation that owns a number -- it owns and operates a number of local broadcast news stations.
PRESS: One hundred and seventy I saw this morning.
GERTZ: Yes. They're the largest in the country. They're currently reaching about 39 percent of the country. And if they're successful in buying the Tribune broadcast stations, that's going to jump to something like 70 percent of the country. And so, what you have here --
PRESS: Right-wing ownership?
GERTZ: Right-wing ownership and a willingness to use those outlets to help conservatives.
PRESS: A lot of them are local Fox stations, right?
GERTZ: Some of them are local Fox stations, but some of them -- they can be really any type of broadcast station. It doesn't matter. And that's kind of why it is so tricky, right? Because if you turn on Fox News, you know what you're going to get. You're going to get this conservative-slanted news. But if you turn on your local broadcast station, you tune into your local news, you don't expect really an ideological component to this. But what Sinclair does is they produce these segments on the national level and feed them out to all of the local stations and require them to run these segments. So you have these terrorism alert segments that are basically designed to get people to be afraid of Muslims. You have these segments with a former Trump campaign official talking about how great the president is. And these are filtered through to all the local stations.
Now, what we're seeing now -- and I think the news item is that Sinclair decided that as a sort of effort to brand their stations they would require all of their local anchors to produce these spots that basically complain about how the rest of the media provides fake news, but you can come to Sinclair for the real news.
PRESS: Right. So they gave them, sent out this memo that they had to read word for word.
PRESS: You can hear them. All these different voices, all these different stations.
GERTZ: Yeah. We tracked this last week. I think we found that 60 different stations in 27 states had read some version of this live read.
PRESS: It's almost like they're doing it at the same time. All these different voices. Men, women, right? All across, yeah.
GERTZ: And the purpose is very obvious, right? They're trying to delegitimize all other sources of news and get people coming back to a station that is willing to provide basically propaganda for the president.
PRESS: Yeah. This is 1984. Right? I mean, this is -- it really is. Word for word.
GERTZ: Yeah. And we have an administration in office that is using the regulatory powers of the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to make it easier for companies like Sinclair to expand, to merge with other companies. Something that they are, I believe, considering right now is removing a regulation that requires these stations to have local studios, which means you can eventually end up with like one studio and one sort of set of talent servicing half a dozen different network local broadcast stations across a state. It's very bad for -- as they said -- it's very bad for the democracy.