Some Democrats running for office have pulled advertisements from Sinclair Broadcast Group stations in response to a companywide message anchors were required to read condemning fake news, The Baltimore Sun reports.
Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Krish Vignarajah and Kentucky congressional candidate Amy McGrath both announced this week that they were removing campaign ads from Sinclair-owned stations.
Vignarajah also requested that her Democratic primary rivals pull their campaign ads as well until the station stops requiring anchors to read the statement, which she described as "right-wing propaganda."
The Baltimore Sun reported that one other candidate pulled ads from Sinclair stations.
McGrath announced her plan to pull ads in a Twitter statement:
“Sinclair’s corporate-mandated ‘must-read’ right-wing script on its nearly 200 television stations about ‘fake news’ is itself an extreme danger to our Democracy and eerily mimics the propaganda efforts that authoritarian regimes often use to control the media in their own country,” the statement read.
“I call on all Democratic candidates across the country to take a firm stand against this frightening development to our Democracy and refuse to buy advertising on all Sinclair-owned television stations.”
What about Sinclair?
The Sinclair Broadcast Group includes 193 television stations and 614 channels in 89 markets across the country, making it one of the largest broadcasting companies in the nation.
Sinclair is perceived as a conservative media company, which is why liberal media and politicians have raised the alarm about the anti-fake news statements.
What was in the statement?
While the statement has been portrayed by some as threatening or authoritarian, and even edited into a synced video to emphasize the impact, the core message of the script is politically neutral.
Here it is, as transcribed from KOMO-TV:
Hi, I'm(A) ____________, and I'm (B) _________________.
(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our Northwest communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that KOMO News produces.
(A) But we're concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.
(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories... stories that just aren't true, without checking facts first.
(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control 'exactly what people think'...This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.
(B) At KOMO it's our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically 'left nor right.' Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.
(A) But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to KOMOnews.com and clicking on CONTENT CONCERNS. We value your comments. We will respond back to you.
(B) We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual... We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.
(A) Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback.