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Sinclair's 'false news' promo, which it made news anchors recite, goes viral

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Sinclair Broadcast Group has been the subject of widespread ridicule for forcing its local TV news anchors to read a script decrying "fake stories" and "false news".

Sinclair's script for its TV news anchors is strikingly similar to statements Trump makes about media outlets that criticize him.

Sinclair has "used its 173 television stations to advance a mostly right-leaning agenda since the presidency of George W. Bush", the New York Times reported last May. Sinclair could end up controlling over 230 local stations if the deal is approved.

Dozens of stations belonging to the nation's largest broadcaster have aired video promotions in the last few weeks in which their local on-air news hosts voice concerns about "the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country". "The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media".

The script said "some outlets publish fake stories without checking facts first, and some people in the media push their own biases to control exactly what people think".

So Burke, the video director at Deadspin, pieced together video of anchors at 45 Sinclair-owned stations across the United States, all reading from a script that the Maryland-based company recently distributed to its stations about the perils of "fake news" and how it is "extremely risky to our democracy". Areas covered by a Sinclair station ultimately went for Trump by 19 percentage points, the Post reported today. A number of news websites, as well as HBO's John Oliver, said the promo sets the stage for Sinclair to inject its political views into local news. On Monday, Trump tweeted, "So amusing to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased".

The promotion looks unique in each market, but Sinclair's corporate Hunt Valley, Md. -headquarters scripted and distributed it to its stations.

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Sinclair did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

During the 2016 presidential election, Sinclair stations "gave a disproportionate amount of neutral or favorable coverage to Trump during the campaign" while airing stories on Hillary Clinton, a December Washington Post analysis showed.

In a followup story Monday on CNN.com, Stelter noted how the viral video ignited the issue and quoted another Sinclair journalist, an investigative reporter, who said, "It sickens me the way this company is encroaching upon trusted news brands in rural markets".

Sinclair earlier this year initiated a policy of having anchors at its stations across the country read a warning about false reports in mainstream media, using terms favored by Trump.

Rob Braun and Cammy Dierking read the Sinclair-ordered script in the first 10 minutes of every newscast (which I clocked at 80 seconds), cutting into news time. "Chicago's Very Own, not owned", Hoover said on Twitter.

"Sinclair is going way beyond the norm to dictate a branding strategy that is also a political platform", Samuel Freedman, a professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism told Newsweek. Those promotions featured Livingston, the Sinclair news executive, who criticized "the troubling trend of irresponsible and one-sided news stories plaguing our country". (NASDAQ:SBGI). Northwestern Mutual Wealth Mngmt owns 0% invested in Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.

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