The Coastal Packet: Bias at WGME-TV and WPFO-TV

Friday, March 9

Bias at WGME-TV and WPFO-TV

Colin Woodard, Portland Press Herald -Marc McCutcheon of South Portland was watching WGME’s evening newscast as he has for half a century when something came on that shocked him.

In the midst of the local news, a taped commentary from President Trump’s former special assistant Boris Epshteyn appeared on the screen, trumpeting the administration’s position with what he thought selective use and abuse of facts.

McCutcheon, a small-business owner and political independent, describes the experience as “surreal,” “extremely jarring” and “so out of place with the friendly, local broadcast from news people I’ve come to trust over the years.” There was no rebuttal, no context, no alternate point of view – a situation he found concerning.

WGME-TV (Channel 13) and WPFO-TV (Channel 23) each carry the segments nine times a week on orders from their owner, the Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the nation’s largest owner of local television stations and an aggressive, unabashed disseminator of conservative commentary supporting the Trump wing of the Republican Party.

 NY Magazine- Never the pride of the Fourth Estate, local television journalism has been notorious for its sensationalism, credulity, obsession with crime (particularly, crimes committed by racial minorities), and superhuman corniness. But for all the medium’s liabilities, it retains two rapidly appreciating assets: a nonpartisan image, and genuine ties to communities outside of New York City and Washington, D.C.

These qualities have helped to make “local news organizations” the most trusted source of information in Pew Research Center’s polling on trust in media. They have also made local TV news stations an excellent tool for disseminating propaganda.

And the nation’s largest owner of such stations is using them to do just that.

A family of conservative multimillionaires owns Sinclair Broadcast Group. And Sinclair Broadcast Group is on the cusp of owning enough local television stations to reach 70 percent of American households. Every news station under Sinclair’s umbrella is required to syndicate commentary that comports with its owners’ ideological views. Over the past 13 months, this has meant regularly providing viewers with the insights of Sinclair’s chief political analyst, former Trump spokesman Boris Epshteyn. It has also meant featuring analysis from conservative pundit Mark Hyman, and updates from the “Terrorism Alert Desk” (sensationalized coverage of recent terror attacks from around the world) on a routine basis. Trump's War on the Media Has Been Years In The Making

Now, Sinclair is taking its “covert state media” game to new, Orwellian heights: By the end of this month, Sinclair will require all of its local news anchors to condemn “national media outlets” for publishing “fake stories” and “using their platforms to push their own personal bias,” according to internal documents obtained by CNN. Those documents instruct local news directors to air these criticisms of “biased and false news” — criticisms that, of course, echo the president’s own — over and over again, so as “to create maximum reach and frequency.”


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