This is extremely dangerous to our democracy

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, April 3rd, 2018 - 29 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, internet, making shit up, Media, Politics, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up, youtube - Tags:

29 comments on “This is extremely dangerous to our democracy”

  1. joe90 1

    Make of this what you will.


    “At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it,” a local anchor said. The person insisted on anonymity because they believed they would be fired for speaking out.

    Other local anchors also said the promos were a source of dismay in their newsrooms.

    As scripted, the promos decry “fake stories” from national news outlets — echoing President Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about “fake news.”
    sinclair anchor script quote 2

    The promos are supposed to start airing on local stations later this month. The instructions sent to station news directors say that the 60- and 75-second spots should run frequently “to create maximum reach and frequency.”

    The promo requirements are the latest reason why some Sinclair journalists are upset with the company’s Maryland-based management. In recent years Sinclair’s owners, the Smith family, have made several programming decisions that reflect a right-wing agenda.


    The instructions for producing and airing the localized versions went into great detail about how the promos “should look and sound,” according to another document obtained by CNN.

    “Talent should dress in jewel tones — however they should not look political in their dress or attire,” one of the documents says. “Avoid total red, blue and purples dresses and suits. Avoid totally red, blue and purple ties, the goal is to look apolitical, neutral, nonpartisan yet professional. Black or charcoal suits for men…females should wear yellow, gold, magenta, cyan, but avoid red, blue or purple.”

    …of the plan….

    One evening in July, David Smith, the executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group, strolled into the newsroom at WJLA, the ABC affiliate for Washington, DC, and the crown jewel of his company’s 193-station empire. Smith lacks the name recognition of Rupert Murdoch or the late Roger Ailes. But his company—with holdings concentrated in midsize markets like Tulsa, Flint, and Boise—owns more television stations than any other broadcaster in the country, reaching 2 out of every 5 American homes.


    After a campaign season spent boosting Trump, Sinclair looks set to grow even bigger thanks to the president’s appointees at the Federal Communications Commission: In May, the company announced a $3.9 billion deal to acquire Tribune Media’s 42 TV stations, which would give Sinclair access to New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, the nation’s three largest media markets. The deal—and, for many, Sinclair itself—came to prominence after John Oliver blasted it in an episode of his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, that has been seen more than 6 million times on YouTube. Experts believe the FCC will approve the merger, despite critics on the left and right who argue the deal will give Sinclair far more reach into American households than the law allows.

    …to create an outlet for the age, I reckon.

    At about 6:15 AM, my wife and I were getting ready for Church and paused for a moment to have coffee. I turned on the television on KOMO (an ABC affiliate in Seattle), and the first program we saw was Mark Hyman’s “Behind the Headlines” episode called “Ignoring History”. In the episode, he compared the drive by minorities and liberals to remove statues celebrating Confederate “heroes” from the Civil War to the decision by the Taliban to blow up the 2000 year-old “Buddha of Bamiyan” statues in Afghanistan. I immediately began fretting and fuming — Hyman actually had the temerity to compare the removal of statues of what were by definition traitors from taxpayer-funded government property to the destruction of archaeological treasures!

  2. adam 3

    Go back to sleep, it’s OK. The corporations have taken over, just be happy with the little scraps they throw you, the politicians are all in their back pockets. Go back to sleep. It’s OK.

    Now, Shut Up, and do as your told. There’s a good little liberal democrat.

  3. Bill 4

    Well, I’m kind of laughing at the irony.

    Putting aside the script seems to have been written for a number of syndicated TV stations (and so is legit in that regard), the suggestion that inaccurate and/or downright false information only peculates social media is risible.

    It’s also very much the general line from the US establishment (whichever side).

    Which brings me on to all this ‘recently undermined mainstream media’ imploring and encouraging people to kill their facebook accounts. Facebook accounts that the likes of Sanders and Corbyn successfully used to by-pass the brick wall of mainstream media.

    Where the left and right, liberal and conservative are all handies in glovies… surely that’s where the “extremely dangerous” lies, no?

    • patricia bremner 4.1

      Yes Bill! I thought “some politicians are able through Facebook, to talk to the people directly”

      Well that can’t happen, what the politicos say should be amplified for the right and muffled for the left…. that’s democracy modern style.

  4. Stuart Munro 5

    Though Fox’s beat up is concerning, the real fake news proliferators remain a serious problem. There is yellow press like Fox, and there is increasing use of ‘opinion’ within otherwise reputable news, which is basically gossip. There are the ranter blogs and websites, which ready recruit the uncritical (most of our Putinistas for example), as well as less obvious assaults like those perpetrated through facebook and google.

    So what’s the antidote? Reading helps – a solid background on the matter under discussion renders one almost immune to less sophisticated attempts to sway or to deceive. Personal contacts – genuine input from concerned people in Syria or Ukraine or Myanmar or Yemen debunks the crafted narratives and often reveals issues that might otherwise be overlooked. Genuine reporting – which uses sources can be good too, but the standards vary even between accounts by the same individual.

    Does it matter? Yes. At present a great deal of potential progressive energy is being diverted to defend the imperialist ambitions of the Russian state. That’s not particularly functional, for all that dining with the US requires a mighty long spoon.

    • Bill 5.1

      Oh the sweet, sweet irony 🙂

      To dismiss critical voices as “Putinistas”, at the same time as imploring people to educate themselves, before swinging off into some supposed waste of energy spent to defend the imperialist ambitions of the Russian state.

      That would be the imaginary line ascribed to critics of interventionist liberal policy by interventionist liberals. Whose take on things is defended from criticism or analysis by the sole issuing cry of “Putinista!”

      • Stuart Munro 5.1.1

        Bill, you’re better informed than some, but a lot of Putinistas don’t have a clue what they’re defending. It’s not pretty.

        • Bill

          So…you saying I’m a better informed Putinista? And also that my commentary or opinion is in the defence of something to do with Russia?

          Can you not see how those assumptions (thoroughly wrongheaded as they are) might simply be indicative of just how “one eyed” you are?

          • Stuart Munro

            I consider an embrace of Putin’s cause incompatible with claims of progressive values.

            So people who repeat the dezinformatsiya of that regime lose credibility with me, regardless of the reasoning they claim to employ.

            • Bill

              Very good Stuart. Bar one small detail.

              Of all the comments and opinions I’ve read, I’d be pushed to identify those that “embrace Putin’s cause” – whatever that may be.

              There is bugger all repeating of “dezinformatsiya of that regime” as you term it, for the simple fact that all (more or less) of the information we receive is information from “our” governments…amplified and echoed across major liberal or corporate media outlets.

              That information comes in two broad forms.

              1. Information that originates from “our” governments, and
              2. Information from elsewhere that “our” governments, and/or major liberal/corporate media outlets, filter and spin.

              I mean, do you have any idea of the make-up of factions within the Kremlin; what they stand for; who is who or anything much besides the ‘knowledge’ fed to us and that we’re meant to run with – that the Kremlin is a mafia style set-up?

              • Stuart Munro

                As it happens Bill, I don’t follow the Kremlin cliques – that’s a task and a half, much as one imagines Washington or even Wellington is. But I have a couple of Russian speaking friends who do, who occasionally bring things to my attention.

                Your presumptions about information sources are less than encyclopedic, there are huge reserves of personal accounts that flesh out the crude skeletons the media publish.

                OK, so you want to challenge the ‘kleptocracy’ label often applied to Russia. Is it because you have evidence of scrupulous dealing, or just that you distrust the framers or bearers of that news?

                • Bill

                  This is getting a bit silly.

                  If you think the information we receive is somehow “neutral” or “objective”, then we have very different takes on how media works across “the west”.

                  I wouldn’t know jack-shit about the internal machinations of Russian politics, but when I hear the catch-all phrase of “mafia state” being applied to Russia, I wonder where meant to position Russia in relation to Italy as far as that type of corruption goes. Or whether I’m to think Russian politics is more, or less, influenced by money than US politics. Or whether Russia’s extra-parliamentary networks have a greater or lesser influence on the Russian parliament than Britain’s do on Westminster.

                  Actually, I don’t lose any sleep over any of the above. They’re all in the same boat as far as I’m concerned, and the sooner we’re shot of the lot of them, whether in NZ, Russia, the US or the UK, the better it will be for all of us 🙂

                  • Stuart Munro

                    Well you see that’s where we differ.

                    May is nothing special, but except for unresolved wheatfield issues and the pathological neoliberalism one expects from a British banker’s wife she is not dangerous.

                    Opposition politicians in Russia are routinely killed however, and dissidents, even those as divorced from conventional politics as Pussy Riot, are routinely imprisoned.

                    They are not “all in the same boat” to me, and accepting that equivalence would tend to erode rather than elevate local politics. I’d rather see standards rising myself.

                    • Bill

                      So apart from the fact that May’s dangerous, May isn’t dangerous. I wonder if the same was said of Thatcher…or Blair.

                      Opposition politicians and activists (eg unionists) aren’t routinely murdered in Mexico, Columbia and many ‘elsewheres”?

                      Ordinary people aren’t (some would say routinely) shot dead by representatives of the state in the US?

                      Vendettas aren’t carried out by powerful actors against other powerful actors the world over?

                      You can slice it and dice it however you like, but at the end of the day it all comes back to the same shit. Now sure, you can grade it and say “this” is worse than “that” if you want to give a free pass to some pretty terrible shit.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      Meh – your all sama sama just lets Putin off the hook. And that boy’s got a real long butcher’s bill. You want to put May in the same box, you’ve got to show multiple bodies, and multiple invasions.

        • gsays

          Is ‘putinista’ a variant on ‘tinfoil hat wearer’?
          A dismissive title for someone who doesn’t swallow everything the guardian regurgitates.

          I have noticed post election, the spite, the snarkiness and intolerance of dissenting views increasing here on TS.
          I get with ‘lefties’ a desire to be purer than thou, but some of the crap that has been going down here recently is unattractive.

          We can look for what unites us.
          To do otherwise is dangerous to our democracy.

          This is not in any way a criticism of the moderation, I think it has been even handed.

          • Stuart Munro

            That would be a matter of perspective. I use it to mean a supporter of Putin, which is in line with similar historical uses – Zapatistas were supporters of Zapata for example.

            When we come to a matter like Syria or the Ukraine, I’m happy to accommodate the differing opinions of actual progressives. But I’m not happy to make space for the propaganda of a belligerent despot. So that those who knowingly or unknowingly repeat it, lose standing, at least from my perspective.

    • adam 5.2

      Woohoo more labels, I’m getting a collection.

      Why bother thinking critically when we can all throw labels around as insults, glorious days, just glorious!!

      Bugger the ordinary folk, we have a way of life to defend!!

  5. Macro 6

    Just remember:

    You are free to be a drunkard, an idler, a coward, a backbiter, a fornicator; but you are not free to think for yourself.

    Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past

    In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act

    Eric Arthur Blair aka George Orwell
    What we have now is the reincarnation of the Ministry of Truth.
    Ed – Carlin didn’t work this out first Orwell, had it well sussed by 1949. But then he was just analysing the work of Goebbels:

    A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth. … If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself. … Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious.

  6. R.P McMurphy 7

    just make some better shit up or even tell the truth and sling it back. freakout friday. let them have it. here, facebook, anywhere. its fun. guranteed. this is democracy in action.

  7. Macro 8

    A recently published study by Researchers at Ohio State has found evidence that the publishing of 3 Fake News stories during the 2016 campaign could well have been influential in swinging the vote to Trump and away from Clinton. The study shows that the 3 fake news stories were closely linked to a swing away from Clinton of about 2.2 or 2.3 points apiece in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Clinton lost Michigan by 0.2 points and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by 0.72 and 0.76 points, respectively.

    Our post-election survey asked our respondents 281 questions that included, in addition to the standard election-survey items, three fake news statements. Two of these were negative statements about Hillary Clinton and one was a positive statement involving Donald Trump. All three were widely disseminated through the internet, twitter, and other devices and were picked up by the broadcast media as well.
    The first is the claim that “Hillary Clinton is in very poor health due to a serious illness.”
    Twenty-five percent of all respondents in our nationally representative sample believed that this was “definitely true” or “probably true,” as did 12 percent of our former Obama supporters. The second is a statement that “Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump for president prior to the election.” About 10 percent of our national sample and 8 percent of Obama supporters thought this statement was true. Finally, we asked our respondents if they believed that “During her time as U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton approved weapon sales to Islamic jihadists, including ISIS.” 35 percent of our national sample believed that Clinton had approved weapons sales to ISIS, as did 20 percent of former Obama voters.
    Belief in these fake news stories is very strongly linked to defection from the Democratic ticket by 2012 Obama voters. Among those who didn’t believe any of the three fake news stories, 89 percent cast ballots for Hillary Clinton in 2016; 61 percent of those who believed one fake news item voted for Clinton; but only 17 percent of those who believed 2 or all 3 of these false assertions voted for Clinton (Tau-b correlation=.50).

  8. Macro 9

    And further to the above.
    Anonymous journos employed within the Sinclair group of media outlets have written an essay here:
    They express dismay at the developing editorial direction the top management are directing. Many would leave, but it is not that simple, as to resign under their current contract would cost them thousands of dollars because they are contract for a specific term!

    The penalty for breaking a contract is a payment to Sinclair of part of the employee’s annual salary, based on a complex formula. That’s money most employees simply don’t have. It’s a decision between possibly going bankrupt or sticking it out for another X number of years.

  9. Macro 10

    If people are not worried about the Sinclair Group taking over control of media in the US they should be. This is extremely dangerous for the left, in the US, and we should be concerned.
    Currently the Sinclair Broadcasting Group is already one of the most powerful media companies in the country. It owns nearly 200 local television stations in nearly 100 markets they reach nearly 39% of US households. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) doesn’t allow a single company to own stations that reach more than 39 percent of US television homes. However, the Sinclair group are in the process of buying out another local TV network, Tribune, and using loopholes in the legislation they will then control access to up to 72% of TV households in the US. Local TV is the main medium by which most households in the US gain their “News”.
    The resulting network can be seen in the link above.
    The centralisation of local news and the censoring of major political items is dangerous, and reminiscent of the 1984’s “Ministry of Truth” .

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