Over the weekend, mass panic broke out among media types over Sinclair Broadcasting’s use of local anchors across the country to push out a message about the prevalence of unvetted stories on social media. Here’s what the campaign looked like:
Here’s the transcript, as per Deadspin:
Hi, I’m(A) ____________, and I’m (B) _________________…
(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our [local] communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that [station] produces.
(A) But we’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.
(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories … stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.
(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control "exactly what people think." … This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.
(B) At [station] it’s our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically "left nor right." Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.
All of which prompted America’s late night pope (h/t Guy Benson), Jimmy Kimmel, to issue a Twitter encyclical:
Now, here’s the thing: the actual text of this universally-issued missive has nothing to do with Trump. Go ahead. Check it. There’s nothing about Trump there. And complaints about one-sided news and “sharing of false and biased” news on social media have been absolutely common on the Left. If this same message were read by Brian Stelter on CNN, word for word, nobody would have any problem with it. The media are simply assuming that the message is pro-Trump because Sinclair’s owners are pro-Trump. But the ads aren’t for Trump: they’re a plea for viewers to keep watching rather than turning off the TV and using Facebook for news consumption — the exact same plea made every day in the pages of The New York Times, at MSNBC, and in the halls of Congress by Democrats who claim that social media won Trump the election.
There are companies that have tried to cram down particular viewpoints on hosts. That’s awful. But this isn’t that. Again, this message is utterly anodyne. The leftist media’s universal rush to condemn Sinclair for the message is actually more lockstep political than Sinclair’s message, which is lockstep but not political. Kimmel’s tweet is actually more telling than it looks: all the statements about Sinclair being “dangerous for our democracy” are just as collectivized and unanimous, and far more political, than Sinclair’s top-down edict to read an apolitical message on air.