Sinclair Launches New “Investigative Unit” Partnering Local Journalists With “the New Breitbart”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced they are launching a new “national investigative unit” or what could better be described as a new home for right-wing propaganda and conspiracy theories. The company’s press release indicates this initiative will “leverage our investigative reporters at Circa,” a news portal that has been called “the new Breitbart” and in recent months has become the go-to destination for pro-Trump White House officials looking to leak information that often runs counter to the reporting of other outlets.
Contrary to what Sinclair has told the Federal Communications Commission about its proposed merger with Tribune Media, yesterday’s announcement will result in cutting back on local news coverage as they “shift some daily news coverage resources into investigative journalism.”
The conservative agenda-pushing media conglomerate also announced the renewal of “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” While they bill Attkisson as an investigative journalist, she has a history of advocating debunked, right-wing conspiracy theories.
“Sinclair is creating a new home for right-wing conspiracy theories at our local news stations. By expanding Circa’s influence, Sinclair is creating a pipeline to spread misinformation and propaganda directly from the White House to the homes of millions of Americans, all while cutting back on local new coverage,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress. He continued, “This is yet another reason for the FCC to step in and put a stop to the monopolistic Sinclair-Tribune merger.”
BACKGROUND ON CIRCA
Sinclair’s Circa is “the new Breitbart” and a Favorite at the White House
- “Circa has been described as ‘the new Breitbart’” and is “a favorite among White House aides who wish to platform news to a friendly source.” As the news site The Root put it, “‘’What if Breitbart and Fox News had a couple of babies? What if they grew up to be a cool, slicker version of their parents and started becoming more powerful? Meet Sinclair and Circa –Donald Trump’s new besties.’” [Lucia Graves, “This is Sinclair, ‘the most dangerous US company you’ve never heard of’,” The Guardian, 08/17/17.]
Before It Was Purchased by Sinclair, Circa Strived to be Politically Neutral
- Before being acquired by Sinclair, “Circa strived to be politically neutral and focused on verification,” even including an “‘Editor’s Notes’ feature aimed to add more transparency to the reporting process.” [Laura Hazard Owen, “In Circa, Sinclair sees a way to attract “independent-minded” millennials (and Sean Hannity),” Nieman Lab, 07/05/17.]
Since then, it has become a Favorite of Republicans and Sean Hannity
- Since then, however, Circa “has been embraced by Republicans for aggressive reporting on Russian meddling in the 2016 election that runs counter to reporting in more mainstream outlets.” Sean Hannity “has repeatedly lauded Circa as the gold standard” in media, and “White House press secretary Sean Spicer read a section of one of [Circa reporter Sara] Carter’s stories from the podium in the briefing room as he made the case that Trump’s inner circle had likely been swept up in surveillance conducted during former President Barack Obama’s administration.” Circa co-founder Matt Galligan, in July 2017, tweeted, “‘I’m so upset to see the Circa brand we worked hard to build, with truth & neutrality at its core, be twisted into what it is now.’” [Jonathan Easley, “News outlet rising on the right for Russia coverage,” The Hill, 03/18/17, and Matt Galligan Tweet, 07/03/17.]
Circa is “a News Outlet the White House Considers Favorable.”
- “As Air Force One jetted back from Europe on Saturday, a small cadre of Mr. Trump’s advisers huddled in a cabin helping to craft a statement for the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to give to The New York Times explaining why he met last summer with a lawyer connected to the Russian government…Inside Mr. Trump’s team, the response to the developments has become a subject of intense dispute. Three people familiar with his son’s account said he pushed to offer a full explanation on Saturday when first contacted by The Times about the meeting, and said he agitated to be allowed to defend himself publicly. But three other people involved in the discussions offered a completely contrary version of events, insisting that the younger Mr. Trump adamantly resisted an expansive disclosure. Elsewhere, Mr. Kasowitz was working separately to inform an article being prepared by Circa, a news outlet the White House considers favorable, instead of The Times. According to the person close to the legal team, Mr. Kasowitz was kept out of the discussion about Donald Trump Jr.’s initial statement and saw it only after it had been published online in the first Times article.” [Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, “Rancor at White House as Russia Story Refuses to Let the Page Turn“, New York Times, 07/11/17.]
BACKGROUND ON SINCLAIR’S ATTKISSON
Attkisson Has a Well Documented History of Making Allegations of Liberal Media Bias and Advancing Nutty Conspiracy Theories
- Sinclair “used its TV stations to launch the Sunday morning public affairs program ‘Full Measure With Sharyl Attkisson.’” Attkisson, who alleged a “liberal bias” in CBS News’ reporting when she left the network after 20 years, once “contended the government hacked her computer after her aggressive reporting on the Obama administration.” Sinclair claimed that “Full Measure,” which it described as “internally developed content,” “complemented” their local news coverage. [Stephen Battaglio, “Will Sinclair Broadcast Group take on Fox News after buying Tribune Media in a $3.9-billion deal?,” Los Angeles Times, 05/09/17; Form 10-K, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Securities and Exchange Commission, filed 02/28/17.]
# # #
Allied Progress uses hard-hitting research and creative campaigns to stand up to Wall Street and powerful special interests and hold their allies in Congress and the White House accountable.