Sinclair Anchor Said Being Forced To Record "Fake News" Promo Was "Awful"

PHoto: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images.
Delaine Mathieu, a news anchor in San Antonio, wrote on Facebook Tuesday that it was "awful" to deliver promos required by parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group warning viewers about "the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country."
"Trust me, this was awful," Mathieu wrote in response to criticism of the spots on Facebook, according to the San Antonio Express-News. "We had several closed-door meetings and even had to re-record our version because we looked so mortified in the first cut. But we gathered our composure and did our job knowing this would happen. It sucks. It just does. You will make your judgment and I can’t change that."
Mathieu responded to a few other critics on Facebook, explaining that she felt conflicted about the decision but that she and co-anchor Randy Beamer had no choice if they wanted to keep their jobs at local station WOAI.
One Facebook user said: "I totally trust you but my trust in Sinclair is down the drain. My family only watches News 4 because of you and Beamer, and it's getting hard."
Mathieu responded: "’s hard for all of us. We have a great team of journalists who work their butts off. I appreciate you hanging in there for us."
The script of the promos, which anchors on nearly 200 TV stations were required to recite, has been likened to authoritarian propaganda. It echoes the dominant narrative about "fake news" in the Trump administration, which has been openly hostile toward journalists since the beginning of the presidential campaign. The president retweets lie-spreading Twitter bots, appears to condone attacks on journalists, and has encouraged his followers to intimidate members of the news media.
"Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control 'exactly what people think,'" reads one part of the script. "This is extremely dangerous to a democracy." The anchors then encourage viewers to reach out if they believe their networks' coverage is unfair.
The pro-Trump, conservative broadcasting group currently reaches about 40% of American households and is set to become more powerful. Its "fair, balanced, and factual" networks run commentary by people like Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump aide who has defended Trump's odious "shithole countries" comment on-air.
Other anchors have spoken out against Sinclair's purported mission to "seek the truth." Justin Simmons, a morning TV producer at a Sinclair-owned station in Nebraska has resigned in protest of what he called "obvious bias," according to CNN.
"This is almost forcing local news anchors to lie to their viewers," Simmons said. He added that Sinclair airs slanted videos like Epshteyn's despite the fact that the commentator doesn't have significant followings on Facebook or YouTube. "To me, that's also a concern because Sinclair is forcing us to air these."
Amy McGrath, a Democratic congressional candidate in Kentucky, said on Monday that she is pulling her campaign ads from local Sinclair-owned networks.
"Sinclair’s corporate-mandated 'must-read' right-wing script on its nearly 200 television stations about 'fake news' is itself an extreme danger to our democracy and eerily mimics the propaganda efforts that authoritarian regimes often use to control the media in their own country," McGrath said in a statement.
Sinclair executives, meanwhile, have told news outlets that the promos are "focused on fact-based reporting" and affirm the company's "commitment to our communities."
Donald Trump, who is still our 45th president, has defended Sinclair on Twitter.
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