The telecommunications company Sinclair Broadcast Group is standing by its decision to run controversial promos across dozens of the local TV stations it owns.
Sinclair — the largest owner of television stations in the United States — has recently come under fire for the promos, in which local news anchors read a scripted message touting their “quality, balanced journalism” and attack other media outlets that “publish the same fake stories without checking facts first.”
In a statement published on its website Monday, Sinclair maintains that the promos “served no political agenda, and represented nothing more than an effort to differentiate our award-winning news programming from other, less reliable sources of information.”
Added Scott Livingston, Sinclair’s senior vice president of news:
“We aren’t sure of the motivation for the criticism, but find it curious that we would be attacked for asking our news people to remind their audiences that unsubstantiated stories exist on social media, which result in an ill-informed public with potentially dangerous consequences. It is ironic that we would be attacked for messages promoting our journalistic initiative for fair and objective reporting, and for specifically asking the public to hold our newsrooms accountable. Our local stations keep our audiences’ trust by staying focused on fact-based reporting and clearly identifying commentary.”
Though Sinclair has been criticized before for its attempt to push a conservative agenda, the recent promos have inspired widespread outrage. John Oliver lambasted the company on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, noting that the journalists in these promos look more like “members of a brainwashed cult.” He also shared a video from the sports news website Deadspin, embedded above, which shows an eerie supercut of the promos that aired across the country.
President Trump, meanwhile, defended Sinclair in a tweet early Tuesday morning: