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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

Scoop: FDA chief called to West Wing

Stephen Hahn. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has summoned FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to the West Wing for a 9:30am meeting Tuesday to explain why he hasn't moved faster to approve the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, two senior administration officials told Axios.

Why it matters: The meeting is shaping up to be tense, with Hahn using what the White House will likely view as kamikaze language in a preemptive statement to Axios: "Let me be clear — our career scientists have to make the decision and they will take the time that’s needed to make the right call on this important decision."

Scoop: Schumer's regrets

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images   

Chuck Schumer told party donors during recent calls that the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the fact that Cal Cunningham "couldn't keep his zipper up" crushed Democrats' chances of regaining the Senate, sources with direct knowledge of the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Democrats are hoping for a 50-50 split by winning two upcoming special elections in Georgia. But their best chance for an outright Senate majority ended when Cunningham lost in North Carolina and Sen. Susan Collins won in Maine.

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.

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