Oofa this was a chunk and a fucking half of article. Don’t know why I feel like writing a book report on it, but tl;dr:
Sinclair’s stations around the country slip hardline political content between local weather, high school sports, and city council reports—broadcasting to a mass audience that, survey after survey shows, trusts local news more than any other medium.
Lots of history of four Smith brothers building their empire (David is the one who met directly with drumpf over dinner).
Their first loophole-ing to acquire more of the market:
Standing in their way was the duopoly rule, a 1940s-era policy preventing broadcasters from owning more than one station in a single market. To take over a second station in Baltimore, their mother, Carolyn Smith, and a Pittsburgh-based African American broadcaster named Edwin Edwards Sr. established a company called Glencairn. With financial backing from the Smith family, Glencairn acquired WNUV, but Sinclair would share advertising sales and staffing and provide 20 hours of programming a day. While Edwards controlled Glencairn’s voting shares, according to FCC records, profit from the new stations would flow through the company to the Smith family.
Coincidentally, then-President Jimmy Carter’s FCC had
introduced policies designed to encourage greater minority ownership of TV stations, and according to the lawyer, it cited that goal in its decision approving an early Sinclair deal with Edwards.
The FCC’s scrutiny caused Smith and his brothers to see the value of friends in Washington. Between 1997 and 2002, the Smith brothers donated nearly $200,000 to Republican candidates and committees in Maryland and at the federal level. The Smiths were also generous with Democrats, when they were in a position to help: One former Sinclair executive told me the company’s political giving “was primarily FCC-driven. Who could be friendly? Who could help them with the FCC?”
Apparently 9/11 was a pretty good days for these fuckwits:
“The management of WBFF Fox 45 stands behind the president,” the anchor said, “and our nation’s leaders in the vow that terrorism must be stopped. If you agree, make your voice heard.” It was days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and soon all 62 of Sinclair’s stations would deliver messages like this, to millions of viewers around the country.
…so that’s nice.
In 2002, the milestone:
Sinclair created a national news desk to produce segments for stations’ local newscasts, and in 2003 it followed up with a Washington bureau.
I’m cracking up about this:
The company’s first choice was not Donald Trump, but Dr. Ben Carson, the retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon. Carson was something of a celebrity in Baltimore and had appeared at Sinclair-sponsored town hall events in the region.
But then drumpf ended up as the GOP nominee, so of course
Jared Kushner, speaking in a postelection off-the-record session, described an arrangement where Sinclair had aired interviews with candidate Trump without commentary in exchange for greater access to the campaign.
(article includes links to both Politico and WaPo with more detail on all of that.)
With the drumpf victory, David Smith is creaming his pants at the opportunity for complete deregulation. And indeed with the new appointees (I had no idea Ajit Pai was a former Sen Sessions staffer!),
FCC has seemingly gone out of its way to grease the wheels for the Sinclair-Tribune merger, reinstating a rule from the Reagan era that could help the company avoid limits on media consolidation.
And they do fun things like respond to criticism of the “must-run” segments by tripling the amount of times the segments must run.
There’s a bunch more slimy history, and some interesting polls, but again, tl;dr, etc.
If the merger is approved, Sinclair’s broadcasts will reach 72 percent of all households. Some media analysts have speculated that with Fox News reeling from cascading sexual harassment scandals, Sinclair senses an opportunity to build a rival conservative network. David Smith is reportedly eyeing a collaboration with Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House chief strategist who leads Breitbart News. There have also been reports, which Sinclair denies, that the company is pursuing the ousted Fox host Bill O’Reilly as well as Sean Hannity.
Whatthefuckever. This is going through, I just don’t doubt it anymore at all. I do, however, enjoy the acts of rebellion like when Seattle’s KOMO station only ran the must run segments at like 4am.