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We were outside Sinclair Broadcast Group’s headquarters to make sure that every person attending the company’s shareholder meeting wouldn’t get into the building without hearing about the price of the company’s proposed merger with Tribune Media, which would force Sinclair’s toxic brand of pro-Trump hate into 72 percent of U.S. households.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, enabled by a rubber-stamping FCC that’s gutted longstanding media-ownership rules to pave the way for the merger, is trying to take over local news and turn it into centrally produced propaganda.

Turns out, a lot people are ready to stand up and fight back.

Thursday’s action was supported and attended by over a dozen national and local groups including Free Press Action Fund, Color Of Change, Catonsville Indivisible, Common Cause, the Communications Workers of America, Courage Campaign, CREDO, Daily Kos, Demand Progress, the Ellicott City Huddle, Indivisible Towson, Media Matters, MPower Change, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Pikesville Indivisible, Together We Will and the United Church of Christ Office of Communication, Inc.  

When local news is Islamophobic and anti-Black, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!

The vast majority of those who came out don’t live in a community where the Sinclair-Tribune merger threatens to take over their local news.

They live around Baltimore, one of the many media markets that’s already plagued by Sinclair’s Islamophobic, anti-Black, extremist propaganda, which the company forces stations to run, often over the objections of local reporters and anchors.

These activists have already seen their local Sinclair-owned station deceptively edit videos from a march demanding accountability for the local police murder of Freddie Gray. Sinclair’s flagship station, WBFF, edited the chant “stop killer cops” into a video that made it look like activists were saying “kill a cop”.

These activists are already exposed to the must-run segments from Sinclair’s Islamophobic Terrorism Alert Desk. The communities around Baltimore already know about former political commentator Mark Hyman’s must-run segments, like the one that aired right before the Charlottesville White supremacist riot that compared city councils voting to remove Confederate statues to the Taliban and ISIS.

All of those who came out know how serious the risk is of Sinclair spreading its hate and propaganda to even more people subversively under the banner of local and trusted community news.

We don’t just need to stop this merger; we need to save all of the stations this behemoth currently occupies. That starts with local communities and local newsrooms demanding accountability.

The power of protest

Even though we know the threat Sinclair poses is a serious one, when you see 100 people show up for an early-morning protest, it’s hard not to find joy in that solidarity and power.

There were signs and banners, songs and chants. The crowd included union workers, parents, organizers, grandmas, kids, local community members and at least one very friendly dog.

We had some speakers say a few words via a bullhorn and Free Press Action Fund teamed up with allies to present an artistic re-creation of the infamous Deadspin video, which showed dozens of Sinclair anchors from across the country reading from the same propaganda script.

We made connections, new friends and new allies; we brainstormed new strategies and built community. Most importantly, we committed to keep standing up and keep fighting back together.

If you want to join with us, you can sign this petition to the FCC and call the agency at (202) 418-1000 to urge commissioners to block this dangerous deal.

Watch the livestream of Thursday’s action and check out some inspiring activist photos:

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