A former reporter for Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation's largest owner of television stations, said the company is promoting "ridiculous propaganda" into millions of homes around the country.
Bill Melugin tweeted Saturday about his experience while working for Sinclair in El Paso, Texas.
"They were awful & I would never work for them again," said Melugin, now a reporter for KTTV, Fox's Los Angeles, California, station. "What they’re doing now is ridiculous propaganda and it’s an embarrassment to the profession. I feel for my former colleagues being forced to read this garbage."
Melugin's comments come after reports that Sinclair is requiring its local news anchors around the country to read a script the broadcasting company wrote that laments the dangers of fake news—while Sinclair also sends stations "must-run" segments it produced, some of which contain questionable reporting.
Among the "must runs" Sinclair forces on its stations are commentary from Russian--born former adviser to President Donald Trump, Boris Epshteyn. Some of Epshteyn's latest "Bottom Line with Boris" segments include a story that criticizes the March For Our Lives demonstrations against gun violence and a piece on why the White House's high turnover rate "isn't necessarily a bad thing."
In March, the broadcast group also aired a must-run segment produced by a former reporter for RT, a Russian government-funded international news outlet that the Columbia Journalism Review called "the Kremlin's propaganda outlet." That segment featured former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka detailing a popular conspiracy theory over the so-called "Deep State," or the notion that longtime government employees are secretly pulling the levers of government to subvert elected officials.
A study conducted by two Emory University professors—which published the day after the "Deep State" segment ran—found that, on average, Sinclair-owned stations have shifted their coverage to the right while also airing about a third less local politics coverage and a quarter more national politics. Emory professors Gregory Martin and Josh McCrain determined the shift in coverage was driven by Sinclair, not the interests of respective local audiences. The study examined 7.5 million transcript segments from 743 local news stations, according to the report.
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