Sinclair Media Group television stations across the country were sent a new “must-run” segment from Boris Epshteyn, former senior adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, on Wednesday.
The video, internally titled “MEDIA BASHING OF THE SINCLAIR BROADCASTING GROUP,” is a full-throated defense of conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group’s recent move to require some local news anchors to read “must-run” segments that denounce “false news.” The segments are largely understood to be a reference to Trump’s preferred term for any unfavorable media coverage: “fake news.”
Epshteyn, now chief political analyst at Sinclair, acknowledges in the segment that yes, he did work for Mitt Romney in 2008 and for then-candidate Trump in 2016, but that makes him all the more reliable when it comes to providing political analysis.
“I know that I would want someone giving opinions about medicine only if they were a doctor,” Epshteyn said. “In terms of my analysis playing during your local news, as you see, my segments are very clearly marked as commentary. The same cannot be said for cable and broadcast news hosts who inject their opinions and bias into news coverage all the time without drawing any lines between them.”
“Here is the bottom line: I am proud to be the chief political analyst at Sinclair. My goal with every segment is to tell you facts which you may not already know and then my take on those facts.”
Epshteyn’s segments are packaged to local news stations, of which Sinclair owns or operates 193 across the country, along with pro-Trump scripts.
As ThinkProgress has previously reported, those segments frequently include misleading talking points and misinformation from the Trump administration, packaged as actual political analysis and news coverage.
Anchors at Sinclair-owned stations across the country have voiced their concerns about the change.
Seattle-based ABC affiliate KOMO-TV leaked scripts to the Post-Intelligencer, which required anchors to lament the “trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories” and the “sharing of biased and false news.”
“They’re certainly not happy about it. It’s certainly a forced thing,” one KOMO employee told the newspaper
A producer at KHGI-TV announced his resignation on March 26, shortly after the station mandated that anchors denounce “fake news.”
The producer, Justin Simmons, told CNN Money Wednesday that he had been aware and worried about Sinclair’s “must-runs” for the past year and a half, but the promos were the final straw.
“This is almost forcing local news anchors to lie to their viewers,” he said.
As recently as Wednesday, Sinclair stations were forced to run an Epshteyn segment praising President Donald Trump’s recent tariff announcement.
“The newly negotiated trade deal between the United States and South Korea shows the new tariffs on steel and aluminum, which went into effect last week, are already paying dividends,” Epshteyn said in the segment, citing a March 25 deal between the two countries that forces South Korea to slash its steel exports to the United States by 30 percent, while exempting it from a regular 25 percent tariff.
“Here’s the bottom line,” Epshteyn said. “This new deal with South Korea is a win for American businesses and our economy. Instead of causing trade wars, as critics have feared, the new tariffs… are pushing our trading partners to engage in fair trade with the United States.”
The pre-taped segment ran on multiple Sinclair-owned stations this week and is one of several “must-runs” distributed to stations.