You might have heard this weekend that Sinclair Broadcast Group required all of its local news anchors to read a script about biased and fake news. That meant almost 200 tv stations across the country issued the same statement.
I finally got curious this morning about what the script said and found the following transcript at SeattlePi:
“Hi, I’m (A) ____________, and I’m (B) _________________…
(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our Northwest communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that KOMO News produces.
(A) But we’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.
(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.
(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’…This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.
(B) At KOMO it’s our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left nor right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.
(A) But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to KOMOnews.com and clicking on CONTENT CONCERNS. We value your comments. We will respond back to you.
(B) We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual… We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.
(A) Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback”
While I don’t find that nearly as odious as many headlines have indicated, I do think the line “Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think'” smacks of the pot calling the kettle black.
It’s not so much the content of the statement that disturbs me as the fact that Sinclair headquarters wrote it and demanded that all its (supposedly independent) local stations read it. It seems even more disturbing when you view Deadspin’s video mashup of dozens of news anchors obediently parroting the same thing.
Note, April 5, 2018: An article in the New York Times yesterday said such scripts are known in the industry as “must-runs.”