An evening news anchor at a Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned station in Seattle cut right to the bottom line Monday when she criticized President Donald Trump’s defense of the conservative media company.
The president had praised Sinclair on Monday morning after reports surfaced over the weekend that the company had ordered its broadcasters to recite a script criticizing other media outlets for “biased” news. Trump said it was “so funny to watch Fake News Networks ... criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased.” He doubled down on his praise in a tweet on Tuesday.
“Actually, this isn’t funny at all,” Mary Nam, who anchors the news at 4, 6 and 11 p.m. at TV station KOMO, tweeted in her response. “None of it.”
Then she turned to the question of Sinclair’s growing influence across the nation’s local news stations.
Sinclair already owns or operates more than 170 TV stations in the U.S. The company is in the process of purchasing Tribune Media, which would give it control over 42 more stations, thereby allowing it to reach 72 percent of TV households in America. Nam asked Trump if his administration was going to allow the purchase to go through.
Over the weekend, a particularly incriminating video put together by Deadspin showed multiple Sinclair anchors reciting the same speech about their “concern” over “some media companies” sharing “biased or false news.” The script was apparently given to stations as “must run” content.
While Nam made her dissatisfaction clear, other employees working at Sinclair-owned or -operated stations have voiced their frustration anonymously. CNN reported Monday that employees it spoke with felt Sinclair was pushing a political agenda on local TV audiences.
Other journalists not connected to Sinclair criticized the message as well. Former CBS national anchor Dan Rather called it “propaganda.”
Sinclair pushed back against any criticism. In an internal memo obtained by CNN, Scott Livingston, the company’s senior vice president of news, said the message was part of its “corporate news journalistic responsibility promotional campaign.”