- President Donald Trump continued his offensive Tuesday against CNN, NBC, ABC, and CBS while defending Sinclair Broadcast Group, which many see as pushing a pro-Trump narrative.
- Sinclair Broadcast Group was the subject of a viral video that showed it had forced 200 anchors on local news TV stations to read a speech about “false news,” one of Trump’s pet causes.
- Sinclair has defended itself, saying it didn’t target any specific media outlets as being pushers of s0-called fake news but instead was addressing conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods, like the “Pizzagate” controversy.
President Donald Trump continued his offensive Tuesday against CNN, NBC, ABC, and CBS while defending Sinclair Broadcast Group, which over the weekend was found to have forced anchors at the local news stations it owns to read a speech about “false news,” one of Trump’s pet causes.
“The Fake News Networks, those that knowingly have a sick and biased AGENDA, are worried about the competition and quality of Sinclair Broadcast,” Trump tweeted, saying CNN, NBC, ABC, and CBS had “done so much dishonest reporting that they should only be allowed to get awards for fiction!”
“Check out the fact that you can’t get a job at ratings challenged @CNN unless you state that you are totally anti-Trump?” Trump continued. He then referred to CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, as “Little Jeff Zuker, whose job is in jeopardy.”
Trump concluded: “They should clean up and strengthen CNN and get back to honest reporting!”
Trump has taken up defending Sinclair since a report in Deadspin exposed the company, which is the largest owner of local news TV stations, as having forced 200 anchors to repeat the same speech almost verbatim.
“Sinclair’s fake-news zombies should terrify you,” a guest column published by CNN said in response to the news, likening the event to George Orwell’s cautionary tale of dystopia and state-controlled media, “1984.” The article described the anchors as “echoing President Trump’s dishonest attacks on the media.”
The phrase “fake news” rose to prominence during the 2016 US presidential campaign as a label for intentionally false or misleading stories produced for profit or political gain, but Trump has used the phrase mainly to refer to reporting he disagrees with or to mistakes that news organizations describe as accidental. His attacks are widely viewed as efforts to sow doubt in the news media and to discredit critical reporting of him.
Sinclair’s address didn’t target any specific media outlets or stories. In an internal memo discussing the media group’s practices obtained by CNN Money, Scott Livingston, a Sinclair senior vice president, said the company’s message was targeting unsubstantiated stories like the pope endorsing Trump or the Pizzagate controversy – two intentionally false stories that circulated on social media before the 2016 US election.
CNN has sought to distance itself from falsehoods in reporting with an ad campaign emphasizing the importance of simple facts.
The practice of distributing identical scripts to local news anchors is not unique to Sinclair.
In 2012, the “Conan” show uncovered a similar trend about a seemingly innocuous story, wherein dozens of anchors repeated the same intro to a story about ice-cream phone apps, saying, “I scream, you scream, well, you know the rest.”
But the viral speech over the weekend seems to have struck a chord, as it echoed one of Trump’s main concerns and talking points.