FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump TV, Coming to a Market Near You

Donald Trump’s favorite local TV chain is about to get a lot bigger thanks to — wait for it — Donald Trump.

Trump’s Federal Communications Commission is paving the way for Sinclair Broadcast Group — already the nation’s largest TV conglomerate — to take over Tribune, which owns 42 stations in many of the country’s big cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Denver.

You may not have heard of Sinclair. But if you watch your local news, there’s a good chance you’re already watching a Sinclair-owned station.

Sinclair already owns 173 stations, which are local affiliates in different cities for national networks like ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. If this merger goes through, Sinclair will own a whopping 215 stations.

No company has ever had that degree of control over local TV news, which is still the top news source for a majority of Americans.

This deal would have been unthinkable in any other administration. But Trump’s FCC is actually rewriting the rules to make it happen — and to give one of the administration’s loudest media boosters an even bigger megaphone.

Sinclair is no ordinary company: It’s notorious for slipping right-wing views and Republican talking points into its newscasts. It overrides the objections of local journalists and requires its stations to run conservative commentaries and slanted stories every day.

In March, for example, Sinclair ordered its local stations to air a Trump-friendly commentary that accused the national media of publishing “fake news.”

This behavior is nothing new for Sinclair: This is the same company that aired the distorted Swift Boat movie that helped sink John Kerry during the 2004 presidential election. Sinclair also refused to fire commentator Armstrong Williams after the FCC fined the company in 2007 for airing government propaganda and failing to disclose his conflicts of interest.

Instead, Sinclair put Williams in charge of one of its front companies.

And Sinclair went all out for Trump in 2016. Jared Kushner, the president’s adviser and son-in-law, has bragged about a special deal he struck with Sinclair to get Trump uninterrupted favorable coverage. The company has been hiring Trump-campaign spokespeople as analysts ever since.

Now Sinclair’s getting its payback.

If this deal goes through, the company’s cookie-cutter, Trump-boosting content could reach more than 70 percent of the U.S. population. But to pull off its takeover of Tribune, Sinclair needs the FCC to change the rules,

So that’s exactly what FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is doing: As one of his first acts, he changed how the agency calculates station reach so Sinclair could dodge the ownership limits. In fact, the FCC is now pretending that Sinclair would reach just 44 percent of the national audience — even though the company is already boasting to investors that it will actually reach a much greater share.

Sinclair would still need to sell off a couple of stations to get under the national cap. So company lobbyists are pushing to get rid of any limits whatsoever.

The FCC’s ownership rules were designed to ensure a diversity of local voices and opinions — but women and people of color own very few TV stations. Instead of creating policies that promote equity and opportunity, the Trump FCC would rather super-size Sinclair.

For years, Sinclair has been using every trick in the book to evade and undermine the rules. Now the game has changed: Instead of appointing a referee to call corporate fouls, Trump gave the whistle to Chairman Pai, a full-throated cheerleader for runaway consolidation.

If you don’t like this rigged game, now is the time to make your voice heard.

Craig Aaron is the president and CEO of Free Press.

Distributed by OtherWords.org.

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail