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.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

True

The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."