The best thing about 2018 America is that if you’re annoyed by the latest “crisis” the media is shoving down your throat, you can just wait a week and they’ll start freaking out about something entirely different.* This is also the worst thing about 2018 America.
A company called the Sinclair Broadcast Group owns a bunch of local TV stations around the country and is trying to buy a bunch more. And the company leans right, which is bad because news organizations are supposed to lean left. That’s the default. That’s the norm. Which is why what you’re about to see is, apparently, the scariest thing a liberal mind can ever encounter.
Earlier this month, CNN’s Brian Stelter broke the news that Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner or operator of nearly 200 television stations in the U.S., would be forcing its news anchors to record a promo about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.” The script, which parrots Donald Trump’s oft-declarations of developments negative to his presidency as “fake news,” brought upheaval to newsrooms already dismayed with Sinclair’s consistent interference to bring right-wing propaganda to local television broadcasts.
Deadspin has put together a supercut of a bunch of these local anchors from around the country, all reading from the same script:
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) March 31, 2018
As Jack Shafer at Politico notes, “the chain has revealed its on-air employees as passive newsreaders who will read whatever crap is scripted for them, and not the free-thinking independent journalists they pretend to be.” Ron Burgundy wasn’t just a joke. These guys really will read anything you put on that prompter. It’s ridiculous.
But that’s not enough. Just scoffing at a bunch of hapless local anchors isn’t sufficiently clickbaity. Instead, our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters are giving us this (supercut courtesy of my old friends at the Daily Caller):
Wow, it’s almost as if all these drones have been given the same talking points to mindlessly blurt out on TV. It’s almost as if they’re all reading from the same script. It’s almost as if they’re being used to push an agenda.
So now, a local television PSA warning viewers about fake news is dangerous propaganda, a harbinger of the state-run media we’ll get if Orange Hitler isn’t stopped, because… well, because Trump says “fake news” a lot. That’s it. That’s the connection. This might help Trump in some unspecified manner, so it’s the worst thing ever. South Bend’s #1 morning news team is trying to drain you of your free will through your TV set!
Never mind that the panic about fake news started on the left. They didn’t care about online misinformation and propaganda until they decided it was a good excuse for Hillary Clinton’s astonishing failure, and then it was all they could talk about. But then Trump appropriated “fake news” to smear anybody who criticizes him, because he’s a troll and that’s what he does, so now the left has ceded the term to him. Anybody who says “fake news” ever again is in league with Trump, somehow.
Yes, local news stinks. National news also stinks. They’re both breeding grounds for groupthink and confirmation bias, and they’re both desperately trying to get your attention by any means necessary. They panic over every little thing, and they resort to scare tactics to keep you watching. They find a narrative and stick to it, in defiance of any facts and evidence to the contrary, and then they claim to be independent and unbiased. They insist that we’re living in a bubble, while they’re trapped inside their own.
I would never do that to you, Dear Reader. I respect your intelligence too much to manipulate you like that. Stick with me, and I’ll protect you from those evil news demons.
Look out, they’re right behind you!
*Unless it’s Russia. They’ll never, ever stop freaking out about Russia. They spent eight years telling us that the ’80s are over. They told us that Obama had Putin under control. Then they lost one little election, and now they see the Russkies everywhere they look. Успокойся, дети.