KFSM, channel 5, is being sold to the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair, which is already the nation’s largest TV station operator, will purchase 42 stations from the Tribune Media Company, including KFSM, at a cost of about $6.6 billion.
According to 5newsonline: “The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies and is anticipated to close and fund in the fourth quarter of 2017. Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and antitrust clearance.” Following this acquisition, Sinclair “will own, operate and/or provide services to 233 television stations in 108 markets. This will enable Sinclair to reach 72 percent of U.S. households with their local news coverage.
This deal is a terrible development for anyone interested in accurate and fair news coverage in Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley. Sinclair has a long and disgusting history of favoring right-wing politics in their coverage and commentaries.
In 2004, ABC aired a “Nightline” program titled, “The Fallen.” In it, “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel read the names and showed the photographs of the more than 500 U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war. Sinclair Broadcast Group ordered its seven ABC stations not to broadcast the program. In a statement online, the Sinclair Group said the “Nightline” program “appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.” This move by Sinclair was universally condemned by the public and ABC News which said: “We respectfully disagree with Sinclair’s decision to pre-empt ‘Nightline’s’ tribute to America’s fallen soldiers. The ‘Nightline’ broadcast is an expression of respect which simply seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country.” An editor at a station in Columbus, Ohio said, “I have not gotten one positive response.” John McCain wrote a letter to the president and CEO of Sinclair, David Smith, saying: “Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war’s terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.”
According to campaign finance records, four of Sinclair’s top executives had given maximum campaign contributions to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.
Sinclair was also a big part of the effort to smear Vietnam war hero, John Kerry during the 2004 presidential election campaign. Sinclair ordered its television affiliates to pre-empt programming in order to air the dishonest documentary, “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” to disparage John Kerry. This film, masquerading as journalism, alleged that Kerry had betrayed his fellow service members by protesting the Vietnam War. Public pressure forced Sinclair to back down from airing the entire film but it did broadcast excerpts as part of a so-called news program on prisoners of war.
The Washington Post reported: “In 2007, the Federal Communications Commission fined Sinclair $36,000 for broadcasting two public affairs shows, ‘America’s Black Forum’ and ‘Election Countdown’ in 2004 on nine of its stations without disclosing that host Armstrong Williams had been paid by an affiliate of the Education Department to make favorable comments about the Bush administration’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ policy. Sinclair said it had no knowledge of the arrangement, but the FCC said the programs violated rules against ‘payola punditry.’”
In 2008, Sinclair stations aired a political ad saying Barrack Obama lied about his connections to Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers. Factcheck.org found the ad to be groundless, false and dubious.” CNN and even Fox News Channel declined to run the ad.
The night before the election in 2012, Sinclair ran a half-hour election special in critical swing states like Ohio, replacing news programs like the “World News” and “Nightline.” While there was little focus on Mitt Romney, this Sinclair produced news special was highly critical of Obama’s handling of the economy and Obamacare. On foreign policy, the report focused on Republican allegations that the Obama administration had lied to the public about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Sharyl Attkisson resigned from CBS News amid her phony reporting on Benghazi, Obamacare and false reports about government waste during the Obama administration. Sinclair rewarded this discredited journalist with her own Sunday show, “Full Measure.”
In the 2016 presidential election, a review of Sinclair’s reporting and internal documents by the Washington Post showed “a strong tilt toward Trump.”
“Sinclair-owned stations and its Washington bureau scored 15 ‘exclusive’ interviews with Trump over the past year, including 11 during the final three months of the campaign in critical states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio. They did 10 more with Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, from August through October, as well as 10 with Trump surrogates, primarily Ben Carson. Sinclair stations aired five such interviews with Clinton running mate Tim Kaine and two with Chelsea Clinton but none with Clinton or another top surrogate.
During one of the Carson interviews, Sinclair managers provided questions for local-station reporters to ask, such as ‘Dr. Carson, you toured Detroit, your home town, with Donald Trump Saturday. What will Donald Trump offer the African-American community better than Hillary Clinton can?’ And: ‘He has talked a lot about job creation. What will he do specifically to help employment among African-Americans?’
Three of Trump’s 15 interviews over the past year were with a new Sinclair-owned public-affairs program called ‘Full Measure,’ including one on its debut last year. The program, hosted by reporter Sharyl Attkisson, is carried on Sinclair-owned stations across the country.
Sinclair managers asked Sinclair-affiliated stations in Green Bay and Madison, Wis., to air extended portions of ‘Full Measure’s’ interview with Trump on their local newscast on April 3, two days before the Wisconsin Republican primary.
Mark Hyman—a Sinclair executive and conservative commentator who appears on Sinclair stations—regularly criticized Clinton or highlighted positions favorable to Trump in his on-air commentaries. ‘Most Americans know very little about the leaked Clinton emails,’ he said in one, which aired on Oct. 27. ‘Major news organizations buried the most damaging. So we’re sharing some with you.’
In January, Sinclair began producing a public-affairs talk show called ‘The Right Side Forum’ hosted by Armstrong Williams, Ben Carson’s business manager and the de facto head of Carson’s unsuccessful presidential campaign. Williams is a longtime business partner of Sinclair; in 2013, he acquired TV stations from Sinclair when the company reached federal limits on station ownership.
News stories and features favorable to Trump or that challenged Clinton were distributed to Sinclair stations on a ‘must run’ basis—that is, the stations were required by managers in Washington to make room in their evening newscasts or morning programs for them. A ‘must run’ email from Washington managers to stations on Sept. 13 read this way: ‘DESCRIPTION: Why did Hillary Clinton struggle with disclosing her medical diagnosis? She has been repeatedly faced with previous questions of trust. Can a president lead with so many questions of transparency and trust?’…There were no equivalent ‘must-run’ stories examining Trump’s refusal to release his medical or tax records or about questions surrounding his charitable foundation.”
Politico reports that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner told a group of business executives that the Trump campaign made a deal with Sinclair to secure better media coverage. According to six people who heard his remarks, the deal involved Sinclair broadcasting Trump interviews across the country without commentary. Kushner pointed out that in states like Ohio, Sinclair “reaches a much wider audience - around 250,000 listeners - than networks like CNN, which reach somewhere around 30,000.”
Sinclair recently announced the hiring of Boris Epshteyn “as chief political analyst,” who “will provide analysis and insight on major political stories.” The news release states: “Mr. Epshteyn most recently served as special assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations for the Executive Office of President Trump. Mr. Epshteyn managed the surrogate operation of the White House and Administration as well as appeared as an on-air spokesman for the Administration.”
Welcome to your indoctrination into extreme right wing politics or you could simply switch to a more trustworthy, politically neutral local news option. It’s your choice.