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Liberal senators ask FCC to investigate Sinclair, pause merger due to anti-fake news message
Liberal senators are asking the Federal Communications Commission to investigate Sinclair Broadcasting Group over the company's anti-fake news messages. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Liberal senators ask FCC to investigate Sinclair, pause merger due to anti-fake news message

Liberals are still alarmed by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s message condemning fake news, which news anchors at the company’s local news outlets were required to read.

Independent socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, along with 11 Democratic senators, sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission calling for an investigation of Sinclair and a hold on a potential merger between Sinclair and Tribune Media, The Hill reports.

What did the letter say?

The letter is addressed directly to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Here are some excerpts:

“…we have strong concerns that Sinclair has violated the public interest obligation inherent in holding broadcast licenses. Sinclair may have violated the FCC’s longstanding policy against broadcast licensees deliberately distorting news by staging, slanting or falsifying information.”

“Furthermore, must-run dictates from Sinclair harm the freedom of the press guaranteed in the First Amendment by turning local journalists into mouthpieces for a corporate and political agenda.”

“We are concerned that Sinclair is engaged in a systematic news distortion operation that seeks to undermine freedom of the press and the robust localism and diversity of viewpoint that is the foundation of our national broadcasting laws.”

What do they want?

The letter asks the FCC to “investigate news activities to determine if it conforms to public interest. This investigation should, at a minimum, examine whether the scripting of local news programs is tantamount to news distortion.”

If the proposed merger between Sinclair and Tribune goes through, Sinclair would own local news outlets broadcasting to nearly 75 percent of all American households.

In the letter, the senators implore the FCC to put that merger on hold.

“We are concerned that if the Sinclair-Tribune merger continues without a thorough review of these new facts, Sinclair’s practices of news distortion will proliferate to even more local stations, which Americans rely upon every day for fair and impartial news,” the letter reads.

Although the senators are alleging that Sinclair is not being fair and impartial, the message Sinclair anchors read on air was nonpartisan and spoke to the need for fair and impartial news.

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