Monday, December 19, 2016

Sinclair, which has been accused of political bias, offered a deal Trump took advantage of

President-elect Donald Trump's son-in-law said Friday that the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has been accused of airing conservatively biased specials in previous elections, made an agreement with Trump's campaign to give the candidate extended coverage, Josh Dawsey and Hadas Gold report for Politico. Sinclair, which refers to itself as the nation's leading local news provider, has 173 television stations, 482 channels and is in 81 U.S. markets. In recent years it has been buying up small-market television stations.

Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner said the agreement with Sinclair, which owns TV stations "in many swing states and often packages news for their affiliates to run, gave them more access to Trump and the campaign, according to six people who heard his remarks," reports Politico. "In exchange, Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary, Kushner said. Kushner highlighted that Sinclair, in states like Ohio, reaches a much wider audience—around 250,000 listeners—than networks like CNN, which reach somewhere around 30,000."

Scott Livingston, vice president of news at Sinclair, denied that the company cut a deal with Trump, Politico reports. He "said the offer for extended interviews with local anchors was made to both candidates. Trump did a handful of interviews, while Sen. Tim Kaine did a few as well, though Hillary Clinton did not." A Trump spokesman noted that "the deal included the interviews running across every affiliate but that no money was exchanged between the network and the campaign."

"Sinclair, a Maryland-based company, has been labeled in some reports as a conservative-leaning local news network," reports Politico. "Local stations in the past have been directed to air 'must run' stories produced by Sinclair’s Washington bureau that were generally critical of the President Obama administration and offered perspectives primarily from conservative think tanks, The Washington Post reported in 2014."

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