The conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group’s announcement that it hired former White House aide Boris Epshteyn as its chief political analyst suggests a move to deepen its ties with President Donald Trump’s administration.
During the election Sinclair struck a deal with the Trump campaign for better news coverage and then gave the president a softball question during his second press conference. As Politico reported at the time, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner said in December that Sinclair “struck a deal … during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage” for Trump in exchange for “more access to Trump and the campaign.” In August 2016, Trump debuted a new media strategy which included sitting for an interview with Sinclair..
During his second press conference as president, Trump called on only two American reporters to ask questions, one of whom was from a Sinclair station (the other one was also from a conservative media outlet). The question was a softball that avoided the main story of the day about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s possible criminal violation of the Logan Act. This led to criticism from other journalists, including a Fox News reporter.
A press release highlight Sinclair’s announcement of Epshteyn’s hire as chief political analyst emphasized his short-lived role in the Trump administration and campaign and noted that he “will provide analysis and insight on major political stories”:
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) is pleased to announce that Boris Epshteyn, an accomplished commentator and strategist, has joined the company as chief political analyst and will provide analysis and insight on major political stories.
“I am honored and grateful to be joining the distinguished and extremely talented team at Sinclair Broadcast Group,” commented Mr. Epshteyn. “I greatly admire Sinclair's mission to provide thoughtful impactful reporting throughout the country. I look forward to contributing my voice to the ongoing dialogue with the American people.”
Mr. Epshteyn most recently served as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations for the Executive Office of President Trump. Mr. Epshteyn managed the surrogate operation of the White House and Administration as well as appeared as an on-air spokesman for the Administration. Prior to joining The White House, Mr. Epshteyn served as Communications Director for the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Mr. Epshteyn was a surrogate and Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign, where he managed messaging.