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Right-Wing Media: The New Frontier

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For all the attention that, say, Chapo Trap House and that sort of leftist bro-garbage gets, we should probably be paying more attention to the vileness of Sinclair Media, which is forcing local broadcast television stations to become outlets of right-wing propaganda.

The company that owns WJAR-TV is mandating the broadcast of multiple programs favorable to President Donald Trump on the state’s most-watched television station.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, a rapidly growing media company that bought Channel 10 in 2014, produces “must-run” segments and distributes them to its local stations nationwide. They must air during daily news programming, Sinclair executives said.

Sinclair is poised to become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations and, with its recent hire of former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn, viewers can expect to see more of the chain’s political programming.

The practice, which has infused a political flavor into the 68-year-old WJAR’s broadcasts, started quietly there at least a year ago.

Three of the segments have rattled viewers and WJAR’s own news reporters, according to Fletcher Fischer, the business manager and financial secretary of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1228, the union that represents broadcast workers there:

‒ The Terrorism Alert Desk, advertised as a daily news update about terrorist activity.

‒ News pieces from Epshteyn, Sinclair’s chief political analyst.

‒ A clearly labeled opinion show featuring Mark Hyman, a former vice president of the company.

These pieces are fed to Sinclair’s 174 stations in the United States every day.

Sinclair’s insertion of the segments into news programming has been harshly critiqued by Rhode Islanders and national commentators.

Gloria Crist, a 54-year-old actress from Tiverton, says she’s stopped watching the station.

Rep. David N. Cicilline condemned the practice, saying: “Rhode Islanders rely on our local news being produced in Rhode Island, not directed by a national conglomerate for local broadcasters to deliver.”

Given that it is broadcast television, there is at least the potential for public investigations into this and to stop it. Given that Donald Trump is president of the United States, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is Attorney General, and Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan lead the two houses of Congress, don’t hold your breath.

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