Local News ain’t what it used to be. It’s being infiltrated by right-wing newspeak that would shock even George Orwell, who predicted as much in his seminal book “1984.” John Oliver tackles the problem on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.”
Oliver focuses his latest report on Sinclair Broadcasting, a little known media company that is gobbling up local news stations.
It’s latest move is a play for Tribune Media’s 42 local television stations. If consummated, the $4 billion deal would give Sinclair 2.2 million viewers and unprecedented reach into local communities across the country.
The deal raises red flags about the danger of concentrated media ownership, because Sinclair is known to play fast and loose with facts.
It’s broadcasts are filled with decidedly right-wing slanted pieces that demonize “liberals,” foment hate and broadly paint Muslims–all Muslims– as terrorists.
Normally, local news is sharply focused on the here and now of a particular community. So it’s hard to see how a corporate overlord could slant broadcasts.
But Sinclair dishes up its own “news” and forces local stations to air the segments as “must runs,” Oliver noted.
Among those “must runs,” for example, is hard-right commentator Mark Harmon. He has no problem calling college students “snowflakes” and deriding them because they want things like “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces.”
Another of Harmon’s bugaboos is “political correctness” and “multiculturalism.” He laments, for example, that the word “retard” can no longer be used in “polite company.”
“Sinclair may be the most influential media company you’ve never heard of,” Oliver said. “It’s the largest owner of local TV stations in the country that could soon get even bigger.”
“Sinclair doesn’t just lean right with its commentators. Even it’s ad breaks sometime put a thumb on the scale,” he said.
Check out the video below, including a hilarious warning from former Sopranos cast member Steve Schirripa.