Trump the King of Fake News
The media pitchforks are out for Sinclair Broadcast Group, the conservative, pro-Trump company that owns the most local television stations across the U.S. But Sinclair wouldn’t be the force it is today without Bill Clinton and Barack Obama helping the company grow along the way.
For the past week, Sinclair has been the subject of hostile criticism because it mandated news anchors at many of its stations to read a script warning viewers about competing news outlets putting out fake stories and “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.” Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather called the script “Orwellian.” Current HBO talking head John Oliver said it was the work of a “brainwashed cult.”
All this pearl clutching is ridiculous. Sinclair is just playing the game set up by Clinton when he championed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The legislation basically eliminated federal regulations on cross-ownership, allowing giant corporations to buy and own media outlets across the country. Clinton pretty much killed independent operators that couldn’t compete with companies like Time Warner and News Corp, which are among the half-dozen corporations that control 90 percent of what we read, watch and listen to.
Clinton opened the floodgates for propaganda to flow on the radio and television airwaves. Under Obama, Sinclair experienced its biggest growth. Between 2008 and 2016, the company acquired more than half of its television stations. The Federal Communications Commission approved every single purchase.
The reality is that every media outlet owned by a global conglomorate engages in similar tactics to sway public opinion. In a recent USA Today column, conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg pointed out that CNN, with a reach of nearly 100 million households, put out a self-promotional ad that also warns about fake news and that the network can be trusted to always call an apples, well, apples.
“Imagine, Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and the rest of the CNN team had recorded that script straight to camera,” Goldberg writes. “You’d get the same creepy effect.”
Sinclair, with its pro-Trump slant, is merely taking advantage of the system put in place by Democrats