As it closes in on a significant expansion into major cities and battleground states across the country, conservative local news behemoth Sinclair Broadcast Group has gone into overdrive with its pro-Trump and anti-media propaganda.
Sinclair is known for its history of injecting right-wing spin into local newscasts, most notably with its nationally produced “must-run” commentary segments. The segments, which all Sinclair-owned and operated news stations are required to air, have included (sometimes embarrassing) pro-Trump propaganda missives from former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn since the spring.
Last week (one day after reportedly partying at Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.), Epshteyn produced a new must-run segment essentially arguing that media are being too mean to the Trump administration:
Epshteyn’s latest video is yet another effort by Sinclair to adopt the Fox News model: By arguing that media at large is not to be trusted, it’s attempting to isolate local news audiences, suggesting to communities across the country that the only news they can trust is coming from Sinclair. (Not to be outdone, Sinclair’s other must-run personality Mark Hyman released a new segment the same day asserting full-blown anti-Trump “media collusion.”)
This segment is far from Epshteyn’s first defense of Trump from what he views as unfair attacks by the press, nor is it the first to suggest mainstream media are hopelessly biased and untrustworthy. It’s also not alone in looking like straight-up Trump propaganda.
In recent months, Epshteyn segments have also told viewers that:
All Americans should be more like actor Bryan Cranston, who remarked during an interview that people ought to hope Trump succeeds for the good of the country. (Yes, this warranted an entire must-run segment.)
The FBI just might be targeting Trump because of his political leanings.
Deregulation under the Trump administration has led to a spectacularly growing economy.
The Colin Kaepernick-led NFL protests are really about how Trump gets genuinely upset when the flag is “disrespected,” as Epshteyn can personally attest.
The Trump administration’s response to devastation in Puerto Rico deserved a little criticism, but only polite criticism.
These are just (perhaps) the most egregiously propagandistic of Epshteyn’s must-run segments since Media Matters last documented his worst videos in August, and unfortunately there are plenty more to choose from. Epshteyn’s segments have also defended Trump and the GOP on the following: Jared Kushner’s Middle East diplomacy, ending the DACA program with a grace period, another revised Muslim travel ban, North Korea strategy, repealing the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
As it stands, Sinclair is broadcasting segments like these on stations across 34 states and the District of Columbia, particularly in local media markets for suburbs and mid-sized cities from Maine to California -- and they could be coming to a station near you.
The local news giant is now awaiting approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice of its acquisition of Tribune Media, which would allow Sinclair to further spread its propaganda in the country’s top media markets, reaching nearly three-quarters of U.S. households. If this week’s deeply unpopular move to repeal net neutrality rules is any indication of the five FCC commissioners’ adherence to party lines, the FCC seal of approval for this deal is pretty much a sure thing thanks to its current Republican majority.
Media Matters has mapped out more than 15 communities that will be hit hard by the Sinclair-Tribune merger. You can also find a full list of stations owned or operated by Sinclair on its website, and here is the full list of stations it is set to acquire with its purchase of Tribune Media.