One of the most prominent concepts that has been championed not only by the Trump administration, but also its followers and supporters alike, has been the concept of “fake news.” Perhaps born from the need to latch onto something when news stories do not go their way, this idea has been circulated widely by the president himself, primarily as a means of delegitimizing any media outlet that has spoken negatively against him and his administration.
The concept has gone to such great extremes that media syndicate Sinclair has required a promotional message to be read by their subsidiary news organizations, specifically in reference to “fake stories” that are being published by rival news outlets. However, despite the borderline infringement on the First Amendment that such a requirement may cause, some of their Sinclair syndicate-owned media outlets are speaking against the mandate, claiming that they will remain true to their journalistic integrity, despite what Sinclair has asked them to do.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group is Dangerous for Our Democracy!#SinclairStrike
— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) April 2, 2018
Specifically, FOX 47 Madison, a Wisconsin-based subsidiary of Sinclair, published a Twitter post on Monday claiming that they will not air the promotional announcement that has caused widespread public backlash, rather, they will choose to stay committed to providing their viewers with factual news and insights that are of interest to them.
In response to the Sinclair message aired: "WMSN/FOX47 Madison did not air the Sinclair promotional announcement during our 9pm news this weekend. Rather, we stayed true to our commitment to provide our Madison area viewers local news, weather and sports of interest to them." pic.twitter.com/MdQ568cWrH
— FOX 47 Madison (@fox47madison) April 2, 2018
The trend of mandated announcements went viral when Tim Burke, video director for Deadspin, looped together dozens of clips of TV news anchors announcing literally the same lines, all of which were on Sinclair-owned stations, and provided insight into how large corporate ownership of media can lead to manipulation of information being distributed. Yet, despite being identified for their controlling behaviors, Sinclair issued a statement that aimed to justify their mandate, but only dug themselves into a deeper hole. According to a Washington Post article, the statement claimed that:
‘We’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media. More alarming, some media outlet publish these same fake stories…stories that just aren’t true, without checking the facts first.
‘Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think. This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.’
I've confirmed that this memo was sent to staffers at Sinclair's station in Portland. "I will also remind you that giving statements to the media or sharing negative information about the company can have huge implications" https://t.co/q9PUYqKN9Z
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) April 2, 2018
However, forcing their subsidiaries to repeat the same announcement across all of their stations is an exact example of what Sinclair is claiming to be against. Sinclair claims that the criticisms against the promotions are simply the negative sentiment of their opponents for being called out for agenda-ridden reporting.
This is what reporters at KATU news in Portland are dealing with from Sinclair Broadcasting. Note the second-to-last graph. pic.twitter.com/Wuye2vZ3IT
— Samantha Swindler (@editorswindler) April 2, 2018
President Trump has been quick to support Sinclair’s mandated messages, and has criticized other news outlets for being hypocritical against the Sinclair Broadcasting company.
So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018
Prominent media figures such as Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, and Joe Scarborough have been critical of Sinclair’s mandated media message, stating that enforcement of repeating the same message is inherently the epitome of media control and inaccurate media reporting. Yet, as the brave move from FOX 47 Madison shows, the attempts by Sinclair are the true hypocrisy at hand, not the reporting of non-mandated media outlets elsewhere.
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