We’ve read about it in modern literature, such as 1984 and Animal Farm. Warnings about being controlled or influenced in subtle but perceptible ways. We’ve always been told to pay attention to censorship and the grasp that state and federal entities might try to have on information, but many of us have never thought that we would see right in front of our own faces.
If you have kept up with the news in the last few weeks, even loosely, then you’ve seen what kind of potential damage Sinclair Broadcast Group has done. While the news anchors aren’t innocent by any means, the blame should fall square on Sinclair’s shoulders. I say this because in Brian Stelter’s CNN piece, which broke the story, a majority of staff at local stations owned by Sinclair have come out saying that they felt extremely uncomfortable performing the speech, but felt that they had no choice. These stations were give “must-run” scripts, as seen inthis copy received by Seattle’s own KOMO. Many employees were upset.
“I hope people realize that the journalists are trying their best, and this shouldn’t reflect poorly on them,” stated Ms. Pellizzaro, who feels she can speak more freely about Sinclair now that she works in academia. “They’re just under this corporate umbrella.”
“At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it.” Said one anchor under anonymity, due to the fear of being fired.
“I felt like a POW recording a message,” stated another.
“They’re certainly not happy about it,” said a KOMO news employee. “It’s certainly a forced thing.”
According to CNN, the stations also received very specific instructions on how the promos should appear.
“Talent should dress in jewel tones — however they should not look political in their dress or attire,” one of the documents says. “Avoid total red, blue and purples dresses and suits. Avoid totally red, blue and purple ties, the goal is to look apolitical, neutral, nonpartisan yet professional. Black or charcoal suits for men…females should wear yellow, gold, magenta, cyan, but avoid red, blue or purple.”
“They’re certainly not happy about it…” “It’s certainly a forced thing.”
This was a carefully orchestrated plan. It is worded and designed to seem neutral by using non-partisan colors and claiming to be objective, but if you watch the video over again, they use key-words such as “fake news” and specifically point out social media, which major players in government such as Trump have had an open and public vendetta against. It fits the mold of propaganda, and as the saying goes… “if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”
This is problematic. Because Sinclair is the largest owner of television stations in the United States. According to Vox, Sinclair Broadcast Group owns 193 stations and these stations reach about 40% of the United States. They aren’t stopping there either. Sinclair is trying to acquire Tribune Media. Luckily, Sinclair has been met with resistance from antitrust officials in the Justice Department.
That’s not to say that Sinclair hasn’t had a little bit of help when it comes to regulation. The day before Trump’s inauguration an invite to visit Sinclair’s headquarters in Washington was sent to Ajit Pai by Sinclair’s chairman David D. Smith. According to the New York Times, Mr. Smith wanted Pai to ease up on the Obama-era restrictions on media consolidation. Sinclair and Smith knew that Ajit Pai was about to be named the Federal Communications Commission’s (F.C.C.) chief regulator for the broadcast industry and played their cards accordingly.
And just like that, 10 days into his new job, Pai rescinded restrictions on “Processing of Broadcast Television Applications Proposing Sharing Arrangements and Contingent Interests.”
Luckily, these actions haven’t gone unnoticed. A top internal watchdog for the F.C.C. has been investigating these type of changes that benefited Sinclair. Other prominent public figures such as such as Peter Chernin, CEO of The Chernin Group (TCG) and David E. Price, congressional representative for North Carolina have spoken out against these acts.
Of course, Trump has had his own thoughts on the subject. In support of Sinclair, he tweeted that “Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”
But why wouldn’t he? Regardless of your political beliefs or thoughts on Trump, it’s no secret that they have a close relationship. It’s in Trump’s best interest that Sinclair keeps doing what it does without being hindered in any sort of fashion.
While these acts of propaganda are political in nature, I want to make it clear that politics is not my focus. My issue is with the manipulation of information, the media, individuals, and the public as a whole. We must continue to point out this type of abuse and extinguish it. Individuals, corporations, and even our own governmental institutions are not exempt. Even if theses entities favor your ideals and beliefs. The truth is what’s important. Not what we believe.