Sinclair broadcasts must-run segment praising Trump’s tariffs

The segment features former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn reciting the president's talking points about the impending trade war.

Amid controversy over must-run script, Sinclair-owned stations air must-run segment featuring former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn praising the president's tariffs. (CREDIT: Alabama ABC 33/40, screengrab)
Amid controversy over must-run script, Sinclair-owned stations air must-run segment featuring former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn praising the president's tariffs. (CREDIT: Alabama ABC 33/40, screengrab)

Sinclair-owned news stations promoted a pre-taped segment praising President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on foreign nations this week, amid controversy over a leaked “must-run” script.

The canned clip, a recurring “commentary” segment called “Bottom Line with Boris,” features former Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn delivering administration-friendly talking points on the president’s proposed tariffs, which target countries like China.

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“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, citing a March 25 pact 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,” he 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 canned segment was aired on multiple other Sinclair-owned stations this week, often during regular daytime news programming, and is one of several “must-runs” that Sinclair distributes to its stations on a regular basis. Other “must-run” segments include the previously recurring “Behind the Headlines” with Mark Hyman, Sinclair’s vice president for corporate relations, and a must-run segment produced by former RT correspondent Kristine Frazao, which features former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka pushing a conspiracy theory about the so-called “Deep State,” an unelected group of government officials who are supposedly manipulating administration policy.

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Epshteyn’s segments in particular are frequently loaded with misinformation, and misleading White House talking points, typically under the guise of actual political analysis and news coverage. Monday’s segment, for instance, praised Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on a number of foreign countries, against the advice of trade experts who said the move could further imperil U.S. workers and farmers. While the initial steel and aluminum tariffs were later adjusted to exclude European Union nations, NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico, and later South Korea, Trump’s latest round of tariffs targeting Chinese exports have not gone over well.

“As the Chinese saying goes, it is only polite to reciprocate,” a Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesperson stated on Tuesday evening, ahead of an announcement that the nation would issue retaliatory tariffs targeting U.S. soybeans, aircraft, automobiles, and chemical products. “The Chinese side will resort to the WTO dispute settlement mechanism and take corresponding measures of equal scale and strength against U.S. products in accordance with Chinese law.”

Officials say the tariffs will hurt U.S. farmers, who have lobbied the Trump administration to walk back its aggressive trade policies.

More recently, Epshteyn took aim at outlets reporting on Sinclair’s use of such “must-run” segments, posting a video on his YouTube page that blasted the media for supposedly “injecting bias” into their own daily news coverage.

“In terms of my analysis playing during your local news…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,” Epshteyn said.

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He added, “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. I am thrilled to keep sharing the truth and my perspective with you, day in and day out.”

Conservative-leaning Sinclair, America’s largest owner of local news stations, came under fire last week after KOMO-TV in Seattle, Washington shared with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer a script from a must-run segment that anchors were required to read on-air. The script denounced competitor outlets for reporting “false news” and was widely seen as a reference to President Trump’s preferred term for the press, “fake news.”

Sinclair has since claimed it did nothing wrong in distributing the segment and others like it.

“The promos served no political agenda, and represented nothing more than an effort to differentiate our award-winning news programming from other, less reliable sources of information,” a spokesperson stated.