One of the major selling points of local news is that it’s supposed to feel specific: How’s the high school basketball team doing? That bake sale kicking ass? What’s that wacky city council up to now, huh? (Those jokers!) Still, the realities of TV economics mean that even small-town stations are often owned by big media companies working to extend their televised portfolios, which is how, apparently, we occasionally end up with something like this:
That’s nine different local news teams, all reading from the same prepared statement sent out by the company that owns them, the massive (and notably conservative) Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair—which owns at least one station in 40 percent of the markets in the country—is well known for forcing its stations to do “must-run” segments espousing political points of view, like “Hey, let’s hear it for old George W. Bush!” (or, occasionally, just a report on a drug counselling program, pushed by a CEO looking to work off some of his community service hours). In this case, that comes in the form of a depressingly uniform statement blasting “fake news” and, ironically, critiquing biased reporting by news teams operating from a blatantly political motivation.
John Oliver took aim at Sinclair’s business practices in a segment on Last Week Tonight last year, noting, “I did not know it was possible to dip below the journalistic standards of Breitbart.” He’ll presumably be just as livid at this injection of Sinclair’s POV into local TV, the full script for which you can read here: