Sinclair launches attack on CNN

Sinclair Broadcast Group posted a YouTube video on its stations coast-to-coast, attacking CNN’s Brian Stelter, who has been a critic of Sinclair’s requiring local anchors to deliver a corporate message about “fake news.”

The four-minute video, titled “Did CNN Attack Sinclair For Doing Exactly What CNN Has Done For Years,” says CNN is dishonest and hypocritical for criticizing Sinclair while warning about fake news itself. 

The Sinclair message appears as a banner at the top of Sinclair websites and links to the YouTube video.

Sinclair’s anchor-delivered commentary (Sinclair calls it a news promo) echoes Donald Trump talking points about “fake media.” And Sinclair does air GOP-friendly editorials while the company also is seeking government approval of a takeover of Tribune Broadcasting, a move that would require waivers for ownership limits.

Promos
Sinclair stations across the country linked to the video from a banner on their sites.

But the new attack video on CNN is correct that Trump is not the only one who warns against “fake news.”

Sinclair has referred media requests to a New York PR firm that handles crisis management. The PR statement said, “One of the more hypocritical and dishonest depictions of Sinclair’s promotional spots has come from CNN, which disparaged Sinclair warnings to viewers about ‘fake news’ depicting them as, ‘echoing Trump’s talking points’ and ‘taking a page out of ‘Trump’s playbook.’”  

The statement went on, “For CNN to politicize Sinclair’s journalistic commitment promos is hypocritical and shameful.”  

Sinclair’s new video message misses the key reason anchors at the Sinclair-owned stations and university journalism school deans and department chairs from 16 journalism schools around the country have protested the “news promo” that is at the center of the current controversy involving the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations. 

Critics say that when the anchors are forced to deliver a corporate message without disclosing the context behind the message, it misleads viewers.  

On his CNN blog, Stelter wrote, “There’s a big difference between my coverage and Sinclair’s mandatory promos.  No one tells me what to say. But these anchors were told exactly what to say."

Watch the video:

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.

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