Sinclair and the midterms: New York edition
If you live in a midsize city or battleground state, you are now more likely than ever to see pro-Trump propaganda 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 and Tennessee. Now, we’re taking a look at New York.
Key 2018 races
- House: New York’s 19th congressional district (NY-19), spanning the Hudson Valley and Catskills regions south of Albany, was rated a toss-up by Cook Political Report as of publication. The incumbent is Rep. John Faso (R), and there is a wide field of Democratic and independent challengers.
- House: New York’s 22nd congressional district (NY-22) in central New York was rated a toss-up by Cook Political Report as of publication. The incumbent is Rep. Claudia Tenney (R), and the leading Democratic challenger is current state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi.
Sinclair stations in state
WRGB (CBS 6) and WCWN (CW 15 New York - The Capital Region) in Schenectady
- Parts of NY-19 are served by Sinclair-owned WRGB (CBS 6) and WCWN (CW 15 New York - The Capital Region), which both broadcast in the Albany region and share a main studio address in nearby Schenectady.
- CBS 6 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 with Sharyl Attkisson. It also aired the recent anchor-read scripted segments about media bias at least five times.
- The CW 15 airs some of CBS 6’s daily local news programming, along with Full Measure and Sinclair’s other weekend show, hosted by conservative pundit Armstrong Williams.
WSTM, WTVH, and WSTQ (all known as CNY Central) in Syracuse
- Parts of NY-22 in central New York are served by Sinclair-owned WSTM and the smaller, low-power WSTQ, as well as the Granite Broadcasting-owned WTVH, which is operated by Sinclair under a legal agreement. All three stations are collectively branded as “CNY Central,” and they share a main studio address in Syracuse.
- WSTM and WTVH air at least some of Sinclair’s “must-run” content, including nationally produced news packages, “Bottom Line with Boris” pro-Trump commentary segments, and the weekly show Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson. They also aired the recent anchor-read scripted segments about media bias a collective 17 times.
- WSTQ also airs nightly local news programming, along with Williams’ show.
WHAM (13WHAM ABC) and WUHF (Fox) in Rochester, WUTV (Fox 29) and WNYO (MyTV) in Buffalo
- Sinclair owns or operates, in some capacity, several other stations across the state apart from those in areas with key midterm races: WHAM (13WHAM ABC) and WUHF (Fox) in Rochester, and WUTV (Fox 29) and WNYO (MyTV) in Buffalo.
Coming soon: WPIX in New York City
- WPIX (PIX 11) in New York City is currently owned by Tribune Media and will soon be owned (at least briefly) by Sinclair if the company’s pending acquisition of up to 42 Tribune stations is approved. Sinclair has indicated it will sell PIX 11 after the deal goes through in order to comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership rules. However, the details of Sinclair’s plan show the company will likely continue to operate the station in some capacity through legal loopholes.
- Another key midterm race, for New York’s 11th congressional district covering Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, falls within the PIX 11 broadcast range.
What else you need to know
NY-22 incumbent Rep. Claudia Tenney garnered national media attention last month when she echoed some of the Trumpian anti-media rhetoric used in Sinclair’s scripted promotional segments. Tenney was captured on camera yelling, “It’s fake news!” at a local reporter who asked about her recent remarks that “so many” mass shooters “end up being Democrats.”
Are there Sinclair stations near you?
Use Media Matters’ interactive map at FindSinclair.com to learn more.
Graphics by Sarah Wasko.