Sinclair Broadcast Group, a massive conservative media corporation that consistently pumps out pro-Trump propaganda, has become the latest corporation to announce that it’s handing out one-time bonuses to celebrate the passage of the Republican tax bill.
The media giant, which is one of the largest owners of local TV stations in the country, will give its 9,000 full and part-time employees a $1,000 bonus in time for Christmas, CNN reported. AT&T and Comcast have already pledged similar bonuses to their staff, while Wells Fargo said it would be increasing its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“We are grateful to our President and legislature for passing the landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said in a statement. “We recognize that our employees are our most valuable resource, truly appreciate their combined achievements for our Company and look forward to a very bright future.”
While the employee bonuses provide Trump with feel-good headlines before Christmas, the vast majority of recent corporate investment has been devoted to share buyback programs. Boeing, Home Depot, pharmaceutical company Pfizer, and computer software company Oracle have all announced multi-billion dollar buyback plans, which increase stockholder wealth but do nothing to improve worker’s wages. The much-touted bonuses are also temporary, and not the long-term investment in wages and job creation promised by the GOP.
Sinclair’s move comes barely a week after the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission (FCC), not content with simply repealing net neutrality, passed a motion substantially weakening regulations for local media ownership. This, in turn, paves the way for Sinclair’s $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media — owner of the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and Los Angeles Times, among others — and the adoption of Sinclair’s Next Gen TV service, which sells you targeted ads in the same way Google and Facebook do.
The expansion would enable Sinclair to potentially reach 72 percent of American households. FCC Chairman Ajiit Pai has consistently advocated for allowing Sinclair to expand, but the motion was only passed last week 3-2 along party lines.
Sinclair media has a history of running stories that are essentially nothing more than pro-Trump propaganda pieces. Former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn has argued on the network that the FBI might be targeting Trump because of his political leanings. Epshteyn has also run a segment saying that Americans should be more like actor Bryan Cranston in hoping that Trump succeeds for the good of the country.
The company also came under fire this week for running sponsored content as news. On Thursday, the FCC leveled a $13.4-million fine against Sinclair Broadcast Group for failing to disclose TV segments that looked like independent news coverage but which were actually paid programming. The fine, which was the largest of its type ever handed out by the FCC, said that Sinclair created spots promoting the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah but aired them without identifying that its content was paid for by the Hunstman Cancer Foundation.
Sinclair said it would challenge the fine. “After working to reach a reasonable settlement, we are disappointed by [the ruling], which we believe is unreasonable, given the circumstances of our case and the absence of any viewer harm,” the company said in a statement.