The irony of the Sinclair Broadcasting video, with its protests of intrusion upon journalistic integrity, is that so little actual journalism is being done about it.
It turns out to be that the furor over the fake news promo is, itself, fake news.
Here’s the background: Sinclair Broadcasting, the largest American owner of television stations, had its local news anchors record a company statement on fake news and the commitment to avoid it. Local anchors were used because they are the faces andvoices of their company in their respective cities.
There’s nothing unusual about this.
Local TV news people record station promos of one sort or another all the time. Reading someone else’s words off the TelePrompTer is what news anchors do.
And promising customers that the company is striving for accuracy and integrity is common in the news business, and every other business.
There is nothing unusual or unethical about the Sinclair video.
But there is something interesting and coordinated in the reaction to it.
Two entities – one a sports website and the other a Democrat political group – simultaneously used the same idea to produce similar lampoons of Sinclair broadcasters in various markets reading the company statement. The progressive social media network whipped these lampoons all over the Internet. It was the best viral money could buy.
And out came the professional progressive snark.
Anchors found themselves vilified, the company got raked over the coals, grand outrage was feigned and – simultaneously – Democrat politicians attacked the company. Adam Schiff, a House member and the Democratic Party’s most ubiquitous spokesman, said Sinclair was almost government-controlled media and that this was reminiscent of thought control exercised by dictators.
Other Democrats called for members of their party to not run campaign ads on Sinclair-owned stations and some called on their constituents to stop watching the stations – both actions part of a national party’s economic attack on a national broadcaster.
The social media sphere was melting down, TV news people were claiming victim status, Big News was all over the story – declaring the anchors “hostages” and “prisoners of war” – and the Democrats were predicting doom and demanding justice.
And everybody was pretending this was a spontaneous, organic series of events, all driven by some evil statement from some evil company. While we pretended to choke on an insult to journalistic integrity, we failed to demonstrate journalistic competence.
By simply seeing this for what it is.
An effort to block the growth of Sinclair Broadcasting, and to defame the reputation of the only non-progressive company in the media business.
On the growth, Sinclair is awaiting government approval to purchase Tribune media, a move which would give the company a better large-market presence.
On the other point, an honest assessment of American media companies shows that Sinclair is the only operation in any medium – social, online, print, television news and entertainment, movies, music – that is not in step with progressive orthodoxy. Even the Fox News Channel, a cartoonish charade most of the time, is owned by a rising generation which seems to resent its success and look for a chance to change it. Progressives, who speak so much of tolerance and diversity, accept only one world view – their own – and they savage anyone who dares disagree.
Apparently, America cannot allow a single media company to be run by Republicans. Especially one with the reach of Sinclair.
And thus this Democrat stunt.
And that’s what this has been. A ginned-up, off-the-shelf, made-to-order, political controversy.
The progressive trolls have flamed every free platform they can find, savaging every station and every anchor. The hierarchy of the Democratic Party has swung as hard as it can. Anchors, unused to taking flak from the left, have gone into snowflake mode. And the business of division for political gain goes forward at full speed.
And it’s all fake news.
Confusion sowed for the purpose of political manipulation.
And our vaunted news business can’t see that play out under its nose.