Oct 21, 2018

What we're reading: Sinclair's quiet conservative media takeover

uiPhoto: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

As consolidation in the media industry has reduced the number of news outlets over the past decade, Sinclair media has managed to imprint its political influence by focusing on local TV markets, writes the New Yorker's Sheelah Kolhatkar in "The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire."

Why it matters: Local news is trusted more than national news, per a poll from the Pew Research Center. As the largest owner of TV stations in the U.S., Sinclair reaches nearly 40% of American viewers with its 192 stations in 89 markets. "Sinclair has largely evaded the kind of public scrutiny given to its more famous competitor, Fox News."

Among the approaches Sinclair has taken:

Sinclair anchors have sometimes been encouraged to read from scripts prepared by the company that display a rhetoric echoing President Trump's talking points.

  • On Sinclair's scripts, Dan Rather tweeted: "News anchors looking into camera and reading a script handed down by a corporate overlord, words meant to obscure the truth not elucidate it, isn’t journalism. It’s propaganda. It’s Orwellian. A slippery slope to how despots wrest power, silence dissent, and oppress the masses."

The company’s executive chairman, David Smith, is a conservative with libertarian views, is suspicions of the government and is against political correctness, Kolhatkar writes.

Many instances in past coverage has shown its biases for President George W. Bush and the Iraq War. "In April, 2004, Sinclair forbade its stations from airing a 'Nightline' special produced by ABC News, called 'The Fallen,' in which Ted Koppel read the names of every member of the U.S. armed forces killed in the war."

The bottom line: 50% of Americans get their news from TV, according to Pew. Sinclair owns more stations in swing states than any other company, which could have huge impact on how people vote in the midterm elections and looking ahead to 2020.

Go deeper

Zuckerberg says Trump’s “shooting” tweet didn’t violate Facebook’s rules

Mark Zuckerberg at the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany on February 15. Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Facebook did not remove President Trump's threat to send the National Guard to Minneapolis because the company's policy on inciting violence allows discussion on state use of force, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained in a post on Friday.

The big picture: Zuckerberg's statement comes on the heels of leaked internal criticism from Facebook employees over how the company handled Trump's posts about the Minneapolis protests and his unsubstantiated claims on mail-in ballots — both of which Twitter has now taken action on.

Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 5,916,464— Total deaths: 364,357 — Total recoveries — 2,468,634Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,744,258 — Total deaths: 102,709 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  5. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.
  6. 1 sports thing: NCAA outlines plan to get athletes back to campus.

Trump says he spoke with George Floyd's family

President Trump in the Rose Garden on May 29. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Friday that he had spoken with the family of George Floyd, a black resident of Minneapolis who died after a police officer knelt on his neck on Monday.

Driving the news: Former Vice President Joe Biden said via livestream a few hours earlier that he, too, had spoken with Floyd's family. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee implored white Americans to consider systemic injustices against African Americans more broadly, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports.