President Trump is jumping to the defense of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is under fire following the rapid spread of a video showing anchors at its stations across the country reading a script criticizing ‘fake’ news stories.
Trump tweeted Monday that it was funny to watch ‘Fake News Networks’ criticizing Sinclair for being biased. The president singled out CNN and NBC.
On MSNBC today, ‘Morning Joe’ namesake Joe Scarborough deemed Sinclair ‘state-run media for an autocrat’ in a verbal assault on the network and Trump.
A panelist on the program said the footage of the anchors resembled a ‘hostage video’ in the Monday morning commentary.
President Trump is jumping to the defense of the Sinclair Broadcast Group. On MSNBC today, ‘Morning Joe’ namesake Joe Scarborough deemed Sinclair ‘state-run media for an autocrat’ in a verbal assault on the network and Trump
Sinclair owns nearly 200 local stations, and a video released by Deadspin over the weekend illustrated many of their anchors saying they were concerned about a ‘troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.’
Deadspin also said the anchors looked like hostages recording videos to prove they are alive.
‘Everyone is really embarrassed after watching the Deadspin video,’ one anchor told CNN.
CNN obtained a memo on Monday in which the company describes the spots as a ‘corporate news journalistic responsibility promotional campaign.’
In the memo, Sinclair senior vice president of news Scott Livingston says the promos are part of a ‘well-researched journalistic initiative focused on fair and objective reporting’ and describes the criticism as ‘noise.’
Livingston uses the ‘Pizzagate’ story on Hillary Clinton’s alleged, underground sex trafficking ring as an example of the necessity to combat ‘fake news,’ citing a Monmouth poll that dropped Monday that revealed 77 percent of Americans’ belief that its a pervasive problem in journalism.
‘We are focused on fact-based reporting. That’s our commitment to our communities. That’s the goal of these announcements: to reiterate our commitment to reporting facts in a pursuit of truth,’ Livingstone writes in the memo that CNN published in full online.
He goes on to talk about the network’s audience growth, which has been rising steadily, he said, and the number of awards that Sinclair journalists won in 2017, including the 8 that were for national excellence.
‘One thing the critics DO seem obsessed with is the roughly 8 minutes a week of clearly labelled commentary that Boris Epshteyn offers in our newscasts each week. The critics continue to say that his former affiliation with Republicans makes him a propagandist,’ the Sinclair executive said. ‘But they never offer any perspective on Boris’ appearances.’
Sinclair owns nearly 200 local stations, and a video released by Deadspin over the weekend illustrated many of their anchors saying they were concerned about a ‘troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country’
Making comparisons to ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, a senior advisor to former President Bill Clinton, and MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews, who is openly liberal and worked for prominent Democrats prior to his time as NBC News, Livingston said that Epshteyn’s role ta Sinclair is no different.
‘We have no problem with Mr. Stephanopoulos anchoring these newscasts, but think it is odd that Sinclair critics seem to express zero outrage over this,’ he adds. ‘Remember, no one is trying to hide Boris’ past political affiliations. We label him as a former Trump advisor. We are fully transparent about Boris.’
Epshteyn’s must-run commentary has generated controversy in the past. It was the video of local anchors being forced to read commentary ripped straight from the president’s tweets that drew ire on Monday, however.
Over at MSNBC, Scarborough, an ex-Republican congressman who represented Florida before he entered the television industry, said the anchors reminded him of newscasters during the Soviet era.
‘We conservatives mocked forever the Soviets and the fact that the state would type out their scripts and they would read news scripts that were obviously repeated,’ he said.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski offered that they were like ‘robots’ reading the material.
Scarborough said in the segment that ‘people will say, “Oh, look at the conservatives reading their scripts,” ‘ however he said ‘it’s actually got nothing to do with conservatives, it’s Trumpian.’
‘And does smack of … state-run media for an autocrat,’ he said.
President Trump came to Sinclair’s defense in the initial absence of a comment from the network, hitting NBC and CNN by name.
‘So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased,’ he said. ‘Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.’
Trump did not take the opportunity to hammer Scarborough in the tweet came shortly after the conclusion of his Morning Joe program.
The two have tangled several times before, though, with the biggest blow coming nearly a year ago on Twitter.
Trump claimed that Scarborugh and fiancee Brzezinski approached him at his Mar-a-Lago resort over the New Year’s holiday at the end of 2016.
The president charged that Brzezinski was bleeding badly from a face-lift the MSNBC host says she never had.
After Trump’s assault on them, the couple suggested that he was mentally unstable, with Scarborough saying on several occasions since that Trump is showing signs of dementia.