Sinclair posts anti-CNN notice on local affiliates' websites

Leaked Sinclair memo blames 'extremists' for criticism of company

The new banners, which appear on every one of Sinclair's dozens of affiliate websites, link to a almost 4-minute-long YouTube video attacking CNN for being "hypocritical and dishonest".

"We're concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country", the Sinclair script reads.

It was Sinclair's strongest response to the media and public drubbing it took last week after Deadspin and ThinkProgress edited together dozens of the company's anchors reading its promotional copy. CNNMoney spoke with current employees who lamented that their parent company's actions were hurting their journalistic credibility.

Far from giving in to criticism, Sinclair now appears to be going on the attack.

After an on-screen image declaring that it is about to present "evidence of a major media company's dishonesty and hypocrisy", the video features clips of CNN reporter Brian Stelter in 2016 and 2017 warning about the spread of "fake news" - which the video asserts is all Sinclair meant to do in its promotional campaign last month.

The video leads in with dramatic music and a snippet from March 11, in which Stelter says Sinclair is taking a "page out of Trump's playbook" and is damaging its reputation as a fair and biased news source.

I know that for many of you, this past week has been challenging as the stations bore the brunt of politically motivated attacks regarding our news promotions. "Or is this an attack on Sinclair?"

"As a news organization, Sinclair values and preaches the notions of providing content and perspective", acting network spokesman Ronn Torossian said in a statement accompanying the video on Tuesday. Liberal website Deadspin did a mashup of many versions of the Sinclair bit, culminating in numerous anchors saying: "This is extremely risky to a democracy". "CNN used some of the same language that Sinclair used in its journalistic responsibility promos in 2018".

It concludes, "Calling out Sinclair for calling out "Fake News" is dishonest and reprehensible".


However, many watchdogs noticed that the controversial Sinclair script sounded an bad lot like something Stelter would utter on CNN, where he is known to sing the praises of the journalism industry. The video shows clips of Stelter's reports.

"There's a huge difference between my coverage and Sinclair's mandatory promos", he wrote.

Sinclair chairman David Smith told The Guardian newspaper that the controversy is "the most absurd thing I've ever seen in my life".

Sinclair's CEO says he is sorry - not about the controversial promos that local anchors had to read, but about the "politically motivated attacks" that followed. Inside the conservative-leaning Sinclair, multiple anchors, including one who spoke with HuffPost, said they had initially protested the script, but ultimately relented due to restrictive contractual obligations.

Stelter is then shown telling CNN viewers that everyone must fight fake news.

One reporter from a Sinclair-affiliated news station said he had not seen the video and banner.

"For having to field nasty calls, threats, personal confrontations and trolling on social media, I am truly sorry you had to endure such an experience", CEO Chris Ripley said in a memo to staffers on Tuesday.

Noting "nasty calls, threats, personal confrontations and trolling on social media" that erupted after the campaign began, Ripley wrote, "As an organization it is important that we do not let extremists on any side of the political fence bully us because they do not like what they hear or see". The term has also been used by Trump and other politicians to describe news stories they are unhappy with.

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