Local anchors had to read a sneakily pro-Trump script on-air. This is scary.

Theres a curious video going around featuring several local news anchors reading from an identical script. “We’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country,” the reporters say in their recorded segments. “The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.”

Watch the video yourself (story continues below):

So, what exactly did you just watch?

Telecommunications giant Sinclair Broadcast Group recently required local stations to produce and air a segment slamming the “fake stories” and “false news” their viewers are consuming via other media outlets.


Do the terms “fake stories” and “false news” ring a bell?

GIF via Robin Sayer/Deadspin/YouTube.

Yes, they echo President Donald Trump’s debunked claims that the “fake news” media is hellbent on destroying his administration.

And no, that’s definitely not a coincidence.

Sinclair Broadcast Group’s executive chairman is David Smith, a Trump backer with ties to the White House.

The video above, edited and published by Deadspin, was a mash-up of several Sinclair affiliates airing this disturbing segment.

“Sinclair’s probably the most dangerous company most people have never heard of,” Michael Copps, the George W. Bush-appointed former chairman of FCC, told The Guardian in August 2017.

While Sinclair may not be a household name, most households have been swayed by the company. It’s the largest broadcast news corporation in the U.S., owning or operating nearly 200 stations coast-to-coast. And if a new move to obtain Tribune Media is approved — which is likely under the Trump administration — Sinclair will be able to reach at least 70% of U.S. households.

Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images.

For what it’s worth, many journalists working for Sinclair stations have spoken out anonymously against these script-reading requirements, slamming them as “manipulative” of their viewers. Others have expressed how difficult it is for TV anchors to quit; according to one Sinclair reporter, they can often be forced to pay a hefty sum (as much as 40%!) if they quit before their contract is up.

Two particularly disturbing ideas are sneakily pushed onto viewers through these segments.

One is that the Sinclair reporters have been forced to promote the White House narrative that much of the media is biased — and therefore, cannot be trusted. “Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think,” the reporters say in the segment. “This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.”

The script doesn’t name particular reports or specific, untrustworthy sources as being inaccurate. It vaguely describes ”some members of the media” as having ulterior motives, intentionally sowing doubt in the broader free press.  

Secondly, the script suggests to the viewer that only the conservative Sinclair stations — unlike its competitors or other sources — are the truly trustworthy ones.

”It’s our responsibility to pursue and report the truth,” the script reads. ”We understand truth is neither politically left nor right. Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.”

Except that’s not the case.

”Really, what [Sinclair is] doing is kind of like the Fox [News’] ‘fair and balanced’ slogan,” CNN's Brian Stelter reported. ”It's a way of saying, ‘We’re fair, but everybody else is biased.’ It's taking a page out of Trump's playbook.”

Although disturbing, this mandatory new script-reading isn’t entirely shocking to those who’ve been paying attention.

Sinclair — which hired former Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn as a chief political analyst — has already been slammed for packaging conservative, pro-Trump commentary pieces alongside its news coverage, blurring the lines between opinion segments and fact-based reporting.

Here’s one segment featuring Epshteyn where he defended Trump’s controversial response to the gathering of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a white supremacist took the life of innocent protester Heather Heyer:

As Think Progress reported in October 2017:

“Sinclair often defends the must-run segments by arguing that they don’t take up much time, but the short packaging is part of what makes the programming so insidious. They’re slotted into local newscasts easily and not clearly marked as opinion or required programming. The segments run on 174 stations currently owned by Sinclair, which is aggressively expanding.”

What’s more, some have argued Sinclair’s cozy relationship with the Trump White House has allowed the company to skirt around media monopoly regulations as it continues to grow in scope and influence, The Guardian reported.

Americans deserve unbiased news reporting, free of corporate sway and special interest influence.

Where do we draw the line?

John Oliver slammed Sinclair on “Last Week Tonight.”

Oliver reported on Sinclair’s local news influence last summer, but dished on the new script-reading requirements on April 1.

You can watch below:

Click here to see if you watch a local news affiliate owned or operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

More

There are reasonable arguments to be had on all sides of America's debates about guns.

Then there are NRA lobbyists.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer spoke to state economists last week to explain why a proposed assault weapons ban would devastate gun manufacturers in the state. The proposed amendment, which is being led by the aunt of a student killed in the Parkland school shooting, would ban the future sale of assault rifles in Florida and mandate that current owners either register their guns with the state or give them up.

The back and forth between those proposing and opposing the amendment appears to be a pretty typical gun legislation debate. Only this time, the NRA lobbyist pulled out one of the most bizarre arguments I've seen yet.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy

Graphic helps identify what triggers you emotionally in relationships

Knowing your triggers helps you manage your emotions.

via Blessing Manifesting / Instagram

Learning your emotional triggers on your own is one thing but figuring out your triggers in a relationship adds another layer of intensity. Maybe you're afraid of being abandoned or want to feel the need to push the other person away but you don't know why.

If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. It's why artist and mental health advocate Dominee Wyrick created a graphic to help you identify what triggers you in relationships.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being
via PixaBay

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has brought a lot of attention to the idea of implementing a universal basic income on America. His "freedom dividend" would pay every American $1,000 a month to spend as they choose.

In addition to helping Americans deal with a future in which the labor market will be upended by automation, this basic income could allow Americans to rethink what we see as work and nurture what Yang calls a "human-centered" economy.

Keep Reading Show less
Family
Capital One

Brian Olesen never imagined he would end up homeless.

The former U.S. Air Force medic had led a full and active life, complete with a long career in the medical field, a 20-year marriage, and a love of anything aquatic. But after hip surgery and chronic back pain left him disabled in 2013, he lost his ability to work. Due to changes in eligibility requirements, he couldn't qualify for federal veteran housing programs. His back issues were difficult to prove medically, so he didn't qualify for disability. Though he'd worked his whole life, having no income for five years took its toll. He got evicted from a couple of apartments and found himself living on the streets.

But in 2018, two things completely turned Olesen's life around. He was able to both qualify for disability and to move into an affordable housing community in Miami's Goulds neighborhood called Karis Village.

When people think of affordable housing, they don't usually picture a place like Karis Village. The 88-unit development is brand new, and built with an attention to design that is not always expected for developments that serve as home to people on limited incomes. The apartments have tile floors, marble countertops, and all new appliances and furniture, and the grounds are beautiful and well-kept, with a playground and common areas for residents to gather.

Brian Olesen in his kitchen at Karis VillageCapital One

Karis Village isn't just a housing development; it's a home and a community. Half of the units are set aside for veterans who have experienced homelessness, like Olesen. The other half are largely occupied by single-parent families.

"To me, this building was just a gift," says Olesen. "All of the different parties that got together to put this building together… making half the building available to veterans. We've got no place to go."

Addressing veteran homelessness was one of the goals of Karis Village, which was built through a partnership that included Carrfour Supportive Housing — a mission-driven, not-for-profit affordable housing organization in southern Florida — and Capital One's Community Finance team. More than just an affordable place to live, the community has full-time staff on hand to help coordinate services—from addiction recovery programs to transportation options to job search and placement. Also included are peer counselors who provide emotional and psychological support for residents.

Karis Village, an affordable housing community in Miami, Florida.Capital One

Carrfour President and CEO Stephanie Berman says the core function of the services team on site is to build a supportive community.

"Often when you think of folks leaving homelessness and coming into housing, you think of shelters or some kind of traditional housing," she says. "You don't really think about a community, and that's really what we build and what we operate. What we're really striving to create is community. We find that our families thrive when you create a sense of community."

The intention to create a supportive community at Karis Village was a priority from the get go. Fabian Ramirez, a Capital Officer on Capital One's Community Finance team, says the bank did a listening tour in southern Florida to explore community development and affordable housing options in the area and to hear what was most needed. After deciding to partner with Carrfour, the bank provided not only an $8 million construction loan and a $25 million low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) investment to help build Karis Village, but it also kicked in a $250,000 social purpose grant to help fund the social support services that would be put in place for residents.

"It's not just all about providing the brick and mortar," says Ramirez. "It's about being able to contribute to the sustainability of the development and of the lives of the people who move into the building."


Capital One

Olesen says he and his fellow residents benefit greatly from the network of support services offered in the building. He says a counselor comes to meet with him once a month, sometimes right in his apartment. He also gets help maintaining a connection with the Veteran Affairs office. Other services include social workers and counselors for drug addiction and alcoholism.

Olesen loves being around other veterans, and he says hearing the sound of children playing keeps the community lively. He says anywhere else he could afford to live on disability wouldn't be nearly as nice and would likely involve shared kitchens and bathrooms and neighborhoods you wouldn't want to go out in at night.

If it weren't for Karis Village, Olesen says he doesn't know where he would be today: "I had nowhere to go and this is a safe, beautiful place to spend my retirement."

"I don't think they could have done a much better job of putting this place together and supplying us with what we need," he says. "I have so much appreciation for the ability to have a place to live. And then you add to that that it's beautiful and completely furnished and you didn't need to bring anything—I don't know what more you could ask for."

Karis Village and another development for veterans built the same year enabled the neighborhood of Goulds to meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to declare an end to veteran homelessness in the area.

Ending veteran homelessness altogether is a complex task, but communities like Karis Village show how it can be done—and done well. When government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporate funding programs come together to solve big problems, big solutions can be built and maintained.

Future Edge
True
Capital One