Buried behind news of the Comey firing and Trump’s meeting with Henry Kissinger lies the story of the continued rise of ‘state run media’ right here in the freedom-loving USA. Sinclair Broadcasting is close to buying Tribune Media, which would not have been possible prior to FCC Chair and Trump appointee Ajit Pai’s reinstatement of a big-media friendly loophole. Although Sinclair is not officially owned and run by the government, or by Trump himself, it may as well be.
Sinclair Media has a history of pushing right wing talking points. And prior to his election, agreed to be a positive mouthpiece for the Trump Administration in exchange for access to President Rating-Spiker Jared Kushner admitted this. I’d say that puts us another giant leap closer to corporate fascism if you consider that the integration of the corporation and the state is a key component of that system.
With its impending expansion, Sinclair will have the ability to provide a constant drip of pro-Trump, pro-nationalism, pro-militarism, pro-ecocide, anti- woman, anti- regulation, anti-immigrant propaganda to roughly 70 percent of the U.S. population on a daily basis. What’s worse, this propaganda will come in the form of local news, where viewers are not necessarily expecting it. Fox News is known for its conservative bias but Americans tuning in to the weather report will now get their forecast with a side of insidious brainwashing.
In addition to the 173 TV stations it already owns, viewers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Dallas can expect more overt critiques of national policies ranging from warning about the cost of Obamacare to advocating the loosening of environmental regulations. Watch for the bias to be tucked into a local angle for a news story aka “Wouldn’t it be great if fisherman could take home as many fish as they can catch out of Lake Manapasake? Well thanks to loosening some old restrictions, you can soon feed your family based on your own skills with the rod and reel.” There would be no mention, of course, that the ‘old restrictions’ are in place to help keep the fish population functional and now your beloved lake will be opened up to commercial fishing. Sad stories about how the cost of Obamacare is affecting one particular resident of will be di rigueur.
Perhaps most insidious is Sinclair’s ability to use thematic blocking to manipulate viewer’s emotions. Thematic blocking is grouping of stories by a common theme in a newscast. I’ve recently watched local news on a Sinclair owned channel in, let’s call it Anytown-With-Formerly-Prosperous-Working-Class-Families, USA. Up top was literally a parade of house fires, murders, and abductions following the hackneyed old news adage ‘if it bleeds it leads’. Fear was the dominant emotion in the opening block, which creates the desire for protection and causes unsuspecting viewers to seek refuge in their leaders. Fear in the opening block creates the perfect space in the broadcast to air some propaganda about how Trump is making America safe again. We saw this technique used skillfully by the Bush Administration to lead us into a very profitable war for defense contractors after 9/11.
Knowing that you are being brainwashed and helping other’s to see it too is an important way to combat Sinclair and Trump’s agenda. Here is a tool to protect your mind and give others the information they need to protect theirs:
Julianna Forlano is a writer, professor, and media expert who was once the only liberal host on all of Fox News Radio while at the same time hosting on the Pacifica Network. She currently writes, produces and hosts at act.tv. She is a professor at The City University of New York at Brooklyn College and trains organizations in effective communication for mobilizing action.