A day after the Biden administration launched a military strike in Syria, a report from a Sinclair Broadcast Group national correspondent about the strike cited a senior fellow from an anti-Muslim hate group.
When Sinclair’s James Rosen introduced Victoria Coates for her commentary during the segment, he mentioned only that she worked in the national security apparatus of the Trump administration. Her position as a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy was shown only in an on-air graphic.
In 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, designated the Center for Security Policy as an anti-Muslim hate group. According to SPLC’s profile of CSP, it “has gone from a respected hawkish think tank focused on foreign affairs to a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States.” SPLC further explained:
For the past decade, CSP’s main focus has been on demonizing Islam and Muslims under the guise of national security. Statements from Frank Gaffney and other CSP staffers, along with claims made in CSP publications, have become increasingly conspiratorial in nature, making such claims as Muslims are attempting to overthrow the US government from within, and that Shariah law is trumping the constitution in American courts.
In the late 2000s the anti-Muslim movement in America became more organized, and CSP quickly established itself as one of the movement’s premier think tanks. Many of the other organizations making up this movement, such as the grassroots group ACT! for America, were young, but CSP enjoyed extensive contacts in Washington after almost 20 years working in the capital. Gaffney and CSP thus became a key player in the anti-Muslim movement almost overnight.
A comprehensive Center for American Progress 2011 report on the evolution of the anti-Muslim movement in the U.S. described CSP as “a central hub of the anti-Muslim network and an active promoter of … anti-Muslim rhetoric.” The report also described CSP’s founder and current executive chairman, Frank Gaffney, as a “misinformation expert” who “generate[s] the false facts and materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups, and the media” to spread anti-Muslim sentiment.” Besides Gaffney’s history of fearmongering about Muslims in the U.S., he has also praised a white nationalist leader and his publication.
CSP’s bigotry is not limited to Muslims nor to its executive chairman’s own words. Its website currently has a category at the top labeled “Wuhan virus,” a racist term for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 which medical experts have warned against using, as it is fueling verbal and physical attacks against Asian Americans.
Yet Sinclair’s Rosen treated Coates as a legitimate commentator about the Biden administration’s strike in Syria. Rosen also failed to mention that the strike may have been illegal, since Congress has not authorized military action against Syria or Iranian-backed militias. Rosen’s report aired on at least a dozen Sinclair-owned or -operated stations according to a transcript search of the Kinetiq video database.
The Center for Security Policy is not the only SPLC-designated hate group that Sinclair has legitimized by turning to its senior fellows for commentary. Sinclair has also repeatedly featured Mark Morgan -- a former Trump administration immigration official who has joined the anti-immigration hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform -- to criticize and lie about immigration and President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.
If Sinclair refuses to stop turning to hate group representatives to comment on policy, the least it could do is be fully transparent about its guests’ affiliation with such groups and honestly explain the groups’ aims and views.