Ensnared By Sinclair


I might be biting the hand that feeds me a bit with this cartoon.

Sinclair Broadcast Group made news a few months ago over the way it requires their stations to run opinion pieces in support of Donald Trump. Now, they’re under criticism for forcing their anchors to read scripted material.

Deadspin published a video which has gone viral that shows a collection of anchors across the nation reading the same script, like a bunch of pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or as one commentator put it, like hostages reading ransom demands.

Most people aren’t aware who owns their local TV stations. They know the faces and think of the anchors as locals reporting on issues in their community along with sports and the weather. Why, those anchors fight the same traffic we do. They’re just like us.

What most don’t realize is that their station is most likely owned by a corporate overlord that owns many other stations. The owners based in Baltimore, like Sinclair, don’t give a rat’s patootie about what’s going down in Madison, Wisconsin, except for the dollars they get out of that location.

Sinclair, which is very close to the Trump administration and orders their stations to run conservative commentaries by a goon who worked in the administration, sent a script for their anchors to read about media bias.

Donald Trump, who’s an avid fan of InfoWars, The National Enquirer, and sets his daily agenda on whatever lunacy is being upchucked by Fox and Friends, tweeted his support of Sinclair and their biased programming. I bet Trump couldn’t tell you what stations are owned by Sinclair. They own a lot of stations.

Sinclair owns 173 stations and they’re about to purchase 42 more. The majority of Americans who view local news will be watching it on a Sinclair-owned station.

It’s not just difficult to find a TV station that is in touch with its community. It’s becoming even rarer to find newspapers that are locally owned.

I search for new clients for my syndication every day. I am often told by editors that they’re not allowed to choose their content, and all decisions on syndication come from corporate. The newspaper overlords don’t care about content, and newspapers are decreasing in size and in local coverage.

Even liberal Warren Buffet’s newspaper company is gutting the newspapers they own. There is little interest from corporate newspaper chains, liberal or conservative, that cares about creating original features.

I know of a few cartoonists who are defending Sinclair, and the way they operate. The irony they don’t get is that they work for a newspaper chain and their jobs are in danger of being eliminated. I know of at least three, two who are very conservative, who are in trouble. But, hey. Keep defending the faceless machine.

It broke my heart to see my former employer, The Free Lance-Star, sold in bankruptcy liquidation after over 100 years of being family-owned. Shortly after that sale, the assets were sold piecemeal and the newspaper was sold again. In the span of a year, the paper went through three owners. Today, it’s a shell of its former self. I have very few friends and colleagues still there as most were either laid off, like myself, or escaped for greener pastures. Most are no longer in the newspaper business.

A lot of readers don’t even notice. Fredericksburg Today, a local news site, runs my cartoons and I’ve seen readers comment there that they’ll never read the newspaper again for running my work, despite the fact Fredericksburg Today doesn’t have anything to do with the newspaper. I don’t even work at FLS anymore and I’m still losing subscriptions for them.

Excellent journalism is still being done today. There are still great reporters at local stations and newspapers. The problem is the owners of the outlets care very little about quality.

Kathleen Parker once wrote that newspapers should hire interesting people and leave them alone. I’ve always liked that philosophy, but it’s rare to see it in practice. In an ideal world, the corporations would leave their outlets alone and let the local people make the decisions on how best to serve their communities.

A threat to journalism and information is a threat to freedom. Before long, the anchors won’t be the only ones sounding like hostages.

Here’s the video.


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