Trump TV Goes Local?

Close your eyes and imagine your area’s most beloved TV-news anchor.

Now imagine that person unleashing reports and commentaries full of racist, Islamophobic rhetoric. This is what’s happening across the country thanks to Trump’s favorite local-TV chain: the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Already the nation’s largest TV conglomerate, Sinclair wants to expand its reach to over 70 percent of U.S. households — and the FCC is changing the rules to make it happen.

Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai boasted about his plans to take a “weed-whacker” to the Net Neutrality rules and other media regulations before he even took over at the helm of the agency. He’s now dismantling decades-old ownership rules designed to help maintain a diversity of voices and viewpoints in the marketplace. The FCC voted in April to bring back an obsolete technical rule called the UHF discount — paving the way for an already dominant company like Sinclair to swallow up huge numbers of local outlets.

How did this scandal unfold? Take a look at the timeline: During the presidential campaign, Jared Kushner allegedly made a deal with Sinclair for positive coverage of the Trump campaign.

According to Politico, Pai met with Sinclair executives just days after the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Why collude with a little-known Baltimore-based news company? It’s simple: Most people trust local-news broadcasts much more than their national counterparts, and the power of these stations is undeniable.

Sinclair provided pro-Trump coverage throughout the presidential campaign, and continues to employ surrogates like its chief political strategist Boris Epshteyn, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign whose pro-White House commentaries air regularly.

Sinclair is reaping the rewards for its service to Trump — and preparing to blanket the country with coverage promoting his agenda.

While Sinclair bills itself as a “local” news company, the organization actually is known for sending “must-run” segments out to affiliates, requiring them to air pieces that are far-right leaning and completely unrelated to local communities.

And yet the silencing of local issues and dismantling of local news production isn’t even the worst of Sinclair’s authoritarian practices.

Every night Sinclair affiliates are forced to run a segment called the “Terrorism Alert Desk.” One recent report focused on French legislation against burkinis, a type of modesty swimsuit worn by some Muslim women. What does swimwear have to do with terrorism? 

This isn’t news. It’s propaganda designed to incite fear and hatred — the same kind that Donald Trump and others like him regularly peddle to amass power and wealth while destroying Black, Brown, LGBTQ and Muslim lives.

What can we do?

Speak up now: Tell the FCC to keep current rules in place and keep Sinclair’s racist, Islamophobic trash off the local news.

Don’t let this so-called news company harm our Muslim neighbors and people of color while profiting from the economy of hate. Let the FCC know we won’t tolerate the further corruption of local news.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good