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This Media Conglomerate Is Trying to Turn Your Local News Stations into Trump TV

You can help, though.

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Corporate consolidation of local news isn’t the most attention-grabbing subject. It’s potentially complicated and also easy to write off as something that doesn’t affect those of us who consume our media online. Why should we care what local news stations are doing?

But the current attempted merger between the Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media would most definitely affect all of us. Because in short, what Sinclair is trying to do is create a network of propaganda, similar to Fox News but so much more dangerous because it would be disguised as local news. And even if you yourself don’t watch local stations, a whole lot of people do. Probably some of your family members, which will make holidays even more infuriating, but also just tons of people across the country, who are primed to ingest even more misinformation than they already get through Fox, Facebook, and every suspectly named conservative URL on the internet.

Sinclair is already the largest owner of local stations, and the Tribune merger would violate the FCC cap on monopoly ownership (don’t worry, Sinclair, there are loopholes!), reaching an estimated 72% of American households. This kind of stranglehold doesn’t just have financial benefits for Sinclair; killing their competition to this degree also means theirs is the only voice being heard. And what they’re doing with that voice is disturbing.

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Sinclair doesn’t just give coverage to conservative voices; they do something that reportedly no other media giant does: produce their own content and distribute it to their affiliates across the country. And they distribute these as “must run” segments which are exactly what they sound like, segments their stations are required to air.

Starting this past summer, Sinclair affiliates were required to air nine segments a week featuring Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump advisor who is under investigation in the Russia probe, who is now the chief political analyst for Sinclair. His “Bottom Line With Boris” segments–again, aired nine times weekly and disguised as local news–are Fox News-level parroting of pro-Trump, anti-liberal, anti-Clinton talking points.

Epshteyn’s segments are not Sinclair’s only conservative op-ed must-runs. Back in July, John Oliver covered Sinclair and their proposed merger. At the time, Oliver explained,

Should this Tribune acquisition go through, there are going to be even more good journalists having to see their hard work placed alongside terror-desk nonsense, just as there will be more unsuspecting audience members who will get a heaping dose of Sinclair content, possibly without realizing that. You should find out who owns your local station and bear that in mind as you watch.

More than 15,000 people have added their names to those who oppose this sort of monopoly, let alone one dedicated to the manipulative distribution of party-line propaganda. The FCC has the power to block the $4 billion merger, but they’re not likely to without overwhelming public shaming. Check out StopSinclair.com for ways to add your voice to this conversation. (Hint: step one, like always, is calling your elected representatives.)

(image: Ildar vector / Shutterstock.com)

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Author

Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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