Progress Iowa calls for public apology from stations who aired the Sinclair “forced read” promotion.
A controversial promotional piece scripted by The Sinclair Broadcast Group aired 68 times in Iowa on stations owned by the corporation between March 23rd and March 31st, according to a report released by Progress Iowa.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group required that its local anchors across the country record ‘news’ segments with phrasing similar to President Trump’s attacks on journalists, including the ironic phrase “this is extremely dangerous to our democracy.” These so-called “forced reads” received some pushback from local journalists, and have received widespread criticism nationally, including from Peter Chernin, the former president of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, who tweeted that they are “insidious.”
“This is the exact opposite of what Iowans expect and deserve from local journalists,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “We don’t expect to agree with every story reporters air or write, but we do expect they are being honest with us, and not regurgitating sound bites from their corporate bosses. Every station who ran these promotions represents the so-called ‘fake news’ that they proclaim to be against, and they owe their viewers a public apology.”
The scripted Sinclair promotion ran 68 times on the following stations broadcasting in Iowa:
- KFXA, Fox affiliate in eastern Iowa: 10 airings, with a viewership of 65,530
- KGAN, CBS affiliate in eastern Iowa: 19 airings, with a viewership of 159,688
- KPTH, Fox affiliate in Sioux City: 4 airings, with a viewership of 20,824
- KTVO, ABC affiliate in Ottumwa: 35 airings, with a viewership of 154,671
Progress Iowa generated the report of 68 news clips by searching for stations that used the phrase “extremely dangerous to our democracy.”