Sinclair Surrounds Ad Critical of Its Agenda With “Must Run” Attacks on Its Sponsor

Ad Elevated Deadspin’s Viral Use of Sinclair Anchors Forced to Read the Same Trumpian Anti-Media Political Talking Points Word for Word 


 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over the weekend, Sinclair Broadcast Group began airing a six-figure ad buy from consumer watchdog organization Allied Progress that elevated Deadspin’s viral video showing Sinclair’s local anchors reading the exact same political talking points word for word – an act forced on them by company leadership. The ad did not simply air on Sinclair’s stations however. Instead it was bookended with a message from Sinclair defending its unethical mandate on local anchors and attacking Allied Progress over its “liberal” politics. In response, Allied Progress released the following statement from its executive direct, Karl Frisch:

“When we bought airtime with Sinclair we didn’t think they’d respond by admitting they actively push a partisan agenda. But that’s essentially what they’ve done by attacking Allied Progress for a supposed ‘liberal bias’ while simultaneously claiming they want viewers to hear the other side in their response.

“That we are a progressive consumer watchdog dedicated to holding special interests accountable is something we wear proudly on our sleeves. We’re clear about who we are. Sinclair is not. By claiming ‘both sides’ and attacking a critic’s liberal politics, they are acknowledging they actively disseminate partisan conservative propaganda, something clearly at odds with their repeated claims to the contrary.

“It is standard practice for a station to seek permission before bookending an ad with a content warning. That did not happen here, which is hardly surprising coming from a company that doesn’t even subscribe to the basic pillars of independent journalistic integrity.

“When one company owns this much of the local television media marketplace, it can drown out the voices of other sources, push a political agenda with little resistance, and misuse the people’s airwaves in an attempt to silence and malign its critics. That is precisely what Sinclair is doing. Imagine what they’ll do if the Tribune merger is approved and they can reach into the homes of 72% of Americans.

“We will continue to sound the alarm over Sinclair’s encroaching control over America’s most trusted sources for local news. They can force their anchors to read from the same politically motivated script, but they can’t stop their viewers from changing the channel and contacting the FCC.”

The six-figure, one-week ad buy was slated to begin last Friday but faced significant delays from Sinclair and did not begin until this weekend on four stations: WJLA (ABC News) in Washington, D.C., KDSM (FOX News) in Des Moines, KOMO (ABC News) in Seattle, and Sinclair’s flagship station WBFF (FOX News) in Baltimore.

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