Boise's KBOI among Sinclair-owned stations seeing criticism, but Trump's support

One of the biggest reasons for the intensity of the scrutiny is just how wide Sinclair's reach has become.

In December, White House adviser Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, also acknowledged that, during the 2016 election, the Trump campaign struck a deal with Sinclair to obtain favorable coverage in exchange for greater access to the campaign.

Based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, the company has showcased conservative commentators on dozens of its stations.

One of Trump's favorite targets, CNN, posted a story Monday quoting an unnamed Sinclair employee who said the on-air advisory "sickens me".

More recently, the company has mandated that its stations run a segment about the so-called "deep state" that featured former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, who has pushed a pro-America foreign policy position and claimed shadow government employees are trying to undermine the USA government. John Oliver, host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight", even added a last-minute segment to last night's show that samples from the montage; "Yeah, nothing says "We value independent media" like dozens of reporters forced to repeat the same message over and over again like members of a brainwashed cult", he comments.

Sinclair, already the biggest TV news broadcaster in the US, has 193 television stations and a deal to acquire an additional 42 from Tribune Media, which owns outlets KTLA in Los Angeles, WPIX in NY and WGN in Chicago. It's one of the largest owners of TV stations in the country.

President Donald Trump offered a different perspective on the company offering canned speeches and segments that disseminate his favorite barbs and talking points.

Livington calls it "ironic" that the company would "be attacked for messages promoting our journalistic initiative for fair and objective reporting". However, US President Trump was unsurprisingly appreciative. He added that false stories presented in the media "can result in risky consequences".

Livingston referenced a Monmouth University poll released Monday. The initial response from legal experts suggests that some of the financial penalties in these contracts are unenforceable, and given Sinclair's aggressive transgressions, it seems inevitable that some fearless journalist will walk this expensive path at some point. "We hold ourselves to the highest standards of accuracy and fact checking", Livingston wrote. "This is extremely unsafe to a democracy", the script added.

The video appeared over the weekend and was the talk of lawmakers, celebrities and news consumers who wondered why one message was so widespread across so many stations and what it means for local news nationwide.

Sinclair has a long history of supporting conservative political candidates, and courting criticism by using the newscasts of its many stations to boost them.

The group that is most likely to get their news from local news are the group that Trump has become closely associated with: the working class. Pew found that almost one-half of those making less than $30,000 a year and almost one-half of those with a high school degree or less often get their news from local television. The $3.9-billion acquisition is still being reviewed by the government for regulatory approval.

While the policy, which many staffers have referred to as embarrassing and pushing a pro-Trump agenda of its own, started nearly a month ago, it went viral this past weekend and President Trump tweeted support for the stations this morning. "It deserves an investigation". FCC Inspector General (IG) David Hunt recently agreed to investigate whether Pai has improperly favored Sinclair and coordinated with the company on FCC rule changes.

  • Leroy Wright