Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which owns more than 170 U.S. TV stations, has ordered local news anchors across the country to read a script decrying “some media outlets” for “false news” and “fake stories.”
“This is extremely dangerous to a democracy,” the script reads.
Deadspin created a supercut of anchors reading the script and ThinkProgress shared a similar clip that showed newscasters reciting the identical lines:
“I felt like a POW recording a message,” one anchor at a Sinclair-owned station told CNN last month.
“They’re certainly not happy about it,” an unnamed employee at Sinclair-owned KOMO in Seattle told The Seattle Post-Intelligencer last week. “It’s certainly a forced thing.”
Sinclair has been accused of being too close to Trump in other ways as well.
In 2016, Jared Kusher, president’s son-in-law and adviser, said the campaign had struck a deal with Sinclair to give the network more access in exchange for running interviews with Trump without commentary, Politico reported.
Sinclair denied anything improper occurred.
“It was a standard package, but an extended package, extended story where you’d hear more directly from candidate on the issue instead of hearing all the spin and all the rhetoric,” Sinclair spokesman Scott Livingston told Politico at the time.
Sinclair is currently in the process of purchasing Tribune media, a deal that would give it access to 42 more stations. Once complete, Sinclair will reach 72 percent of U.S. households.
On Twitter, critics slammed Sinclair over the script local anchors were forced to record: