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WJLA is a Sinclair-owned station in the Washington market. Photo: ABC 7 / WJLA.com

Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the largest owner of local television stations in the United States, has asked its executive staff to contribute to the broadcasting giant's political action committee in order to support the conglomerate's push for deregulation in local media markets, per The Washington Post. Sinclair's executive staff includes the company's news directors at local stations — who hold important editorial roles.

Why it matters: As The Post writes, "[E]ncouraging the news directors of its many stations to contribute to its political effort, in the view of some experts, breaches a long-standing ethical obligation among journalists."

Sinclair's ask to its executive team: "Please take the time to evaluate the importance that the Sinclair PAC can have towards benefiting our company and the needs of the industry as a whole."

  • Their defense: News directors were included in the ask because of their executive — not editorial — status, and Sinclair told the post that reporters, anchors, or other editorial employees were not similarly solicited.

The problem: If news directors did contribute to Sinclair's PAC, it could create valid questions about local stations' impartiality, especially when reporting on topics like the state of their local media market or deregulation more generally.

This isn't the first time that conservative-leaning Sinclair has waded into politically sensitive territory:

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Former French President Sarkozy sentenced to jail for corruption

Nicolas Sarkozy, 2011. Photo: XINHUA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

A court in Paris on Monday sentenced former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence after he was found guilty of trying to bribe a magistrate, AP reports.

Driving the news: Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, is the first president in France’s modern history to have gone on trial for corruption, per AP. He was charged with corruption and influence-peddling.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
2 hours ago - Sports

Canceled NFL Scouting Combine puts 40-yard-dashes on the backburner

John Ross during his record-setting dash of 4.22 seconds in 2017. Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Top NFL prospects would normally be gathering in Indianapolis this week for the annual Scouting Combine. But due to the pandemic, this year's event has been canceled.

What they're saying: No combine means no 40-yard dash times making headlines. Former scout and current NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah thinks that could be a glimpse of the future:

3 hours ago - Health

J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said Monday that he is "absolutely" confident that the company will be able to meet its distribution goals, which include 100 million doses by June and up to a billion by the end of 2021.

Driving the news: J&J is already in the process of shipping 3.9 million doses this week, just days after the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the one-shot vaccine. Gorsky said he expects vaccines to be administered to Americans "literally within the next 24 to 48 hours."

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