The FCC Is Using an Obsolete Loophole to Help a Pro-Trump Media Company Take Over Local TV

The FCC Is Using an Obsolete Loophole to Help a Pro-Trump Media Company Take Over Local TV

Earlier this year, Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation's largest television station operator by coverage, announced plans to buy Tribune Media, another large TV station operator, in a $3.9 billion deal that would create a national broadcasting juggernaut with more than 230 stations reaching 72 percent of households across the country. Sinclair has drawn criticism for forcing its local stations—which include FOX, NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates—to air one-sided and fawning commentary about the president, including by Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump aide who is now Sinclair's chief political analyst.

This is a disaster.

John Oliver did a great piece on this.

No better way to get me engaged in relatively mundane issue than a Last Week Tonight segment. Love that man.

It may seem mundane on the surface, but the repercussions are massive.

Good on Oliver to highlight the slow burning issues while most media focus on the latest Trump clusterfuck

John Oliver summarizing how bad Sinclair Broadcast Group is:

More facts and figures on the American right-wing billionaires funding these:

The billionaire behind Breitbart (Robert Mercer):

Mercer and his daughter have also been enthusiastic backers of the conservative website Breitbart News, where they formed ties with key figures in the Trump White House such as Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

They own part of the data mining company Cambridge Analytica, which played a role in Trump's victory last year. That has given both Mercers a strong foothold in the Trump White House, and last year Politico called Rebekah Mercer "The Most Powerful Woman in GOP Politics." Mercer's influence hasn't been confined to the United States: He was a key supporter of, which spearheaded last summer's successful Brexit campaign.

Mercer said the United States went in the wrong direction after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and also insisted the only remaining racists in the United States were African-Americans, according to Magerman.

... that climate change is not happening. It's not for real, and if it is happening, it's going to be good for the planet.

... that nuclear war is really not such a big deal. And they've actually argued that outside of the immediate blast zone in Japan during World War II - outside of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - that the radiation was actually good for the Japanese. So they see a kind of a silver lining in nuclear war and nuclear accidents. Bob Mercer has certainly embraced the view that radiation could be good for human health - low level radiation.

Palmer Luckey: The Facebook Near-Billionaire Secretly Funding Trump’s Meme Machine

“We conquered Reddit and drive narrative on social media, conquered the [mainstream media], now it’s time to get our most delicious memes in front of Americans whether they like it or not,” a representative for the group wrote in an introductory post on Reddit.

Palmer Luckey—founder of Oculus—is funding a Trump group that circulates dirty memes about Hillary Clinton.

“I’ve got plenty of money,” Luckey added. “Money is not my issue. I thought it sounded like a real jolly good time.”

But in another post written under Luckey’s Reddit pseudonym, there are echoes of a similar tech billionaire, Peter Thiel ["Peter Thiel Wants to Inject Himself With Young People's Blood", "Notorious tech billionaire Peter Thiel, a key Trump transition advisor" "express doubts over whether it was a good idea to give women the right to vote"]

“I came into touch with them over Facebook,” Luckey said of the band of trolls behind the operation. “It went along the lines of ‘hey, I have a bunch of money. I would love to see more of this stuff.’”

And obviously Fox News' billionaire owner, Rupert Murdoch

The effect of just Fox News on US biases/anti-science to get Republican voter turnout on decreased wealth taxes, fewer industry regulations, and other things Republican donors want:

Tests of knowledge of Fox viewers

A 2010 Stanford University survey found "more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejection of many mainstream scientists' claims about global warming, [and] with less trust in scientists".[75]

A 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation survey on U.S. misperceptions about health care reform found that Fox News viewers had a poorer understanding of the new laws and were more likely to believe in falsehoods about the Affordable Care Act such as cuts to Medicare benefits and the death panel myth.[76]

In 2011, a study by Fairleigh Dickinson University found that New Jersey Fox News viewers were less well informed than people who did not watch any news at all.

In 2009, an NBC survey found “rampant misinformation” about the healthcare reform bill before Congress — derided on the right as “Obamacare.” It also found that Fox News viewers were much more likely to believe this misinformation than average members of the general public.


37% support Trump's Syria strikes

38% supported Obama doing it


86% supported Trump doing it

22% supported Obama doing,

Daily memos

Photocopied memos instructed the network's on-air anchors and reporters to use positive language when discussing pro-life viewpoints, the Iraq War, and tax cuts, as well as requesting that the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal be put in context with the other violence in the area.[84] Such memos were reproduced for the film Outfoxed, which included Moody quotes such as, "The soldiers [seen on Fox in Iraq] in the foreground should be identified as 'sharpshooters,' not 'snipers,' which carries a negative connotation."

Fox News' co-founder worked on the (infamously racist) Republican "Southern Strategy" to get the South vote for Nixon, and they were pretty open about their racist tactics

You start out in 1954 by saying, "N----r, n----r, n----r." By 1968 you can't say "n----r" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "n----r, n----r."

Ailes repackaged Richard Nixon for television in 1968, papered over Ronald Reagan’s budding Alzheimer’s in 1984, shamelessly stoked racial fears to elect George H.W. Bush in 1988, and waged a secret campaign on behalf of Big Tobacco to derail health care reform in 1993. "He was the premier guy in the business," says former Reagan campaign manager Ed Rollins. "He was our Michelangelo."

Over the next decade, drawing on the tactics he honed working for Nixon, he helped elect two more conservative presidents, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. At the time, Reagan was beginning to exhibit what his son Ron now describes as early signs of Alzheimer’s, and his age and acuity were becoming a central issue in the campaign.

In 1974, his notoriety from the Nixon campaign won him a job at Television News Incorporated, a new right-wing TV network that had launched under a deliberately misleading motto that Ailes would one day adopt as his own: "fair and balanced." The project of archconservative brewing magnate Joseph Coors, the news service was designed to inject a far-right slant into local news broadcasts by providing news clips that stations could use without credit – and for a fraction of the true costs of production. Once the affiliates got hooked on the discounted clips, its president explained, TVN would "gradually, subtly, slowly" inject "our philosophy in the news.” The network was, in the words of a news director who quit in protest, a "propaganda machine."

But in 1993 – the year after he claimed he had retired from corporate consulting – Ailes inked a secret deal with tobacco giants Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds to go full-force after the Clinton administration on its central policy objective: health care reform.

Hillarycare was to have been funded, in part, by a $1-a-pack tax on cigarettes. To block the proposal, Big Tobacco paid Ailes to produce ads highlighting “real people affected by taxes.”

In a precursor to the modern Tea Party, Ailes conspired with the tobacco companies to gin up the appearance of a grassroots uprising, busing 17,000 tobacco employees to the White House for a mass demonstration. “RJR has trained 200 people to call in to shows,” a March 1993 memo revealed. “A packet has gone to Limbaugh. We need to brief Ailes."

A memo entitled “A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News,” buried in the the Nixon library details a plan between Ailes and the White House to bring pro-administration stories to television networks around the country. It reads: “People are lazy. With television you just sit—watch—listen. The thinking is done for you.”


Yeppers. Third Party Voters or those who chose not too, there is absolutely NO difference between Clinton and Trump.

Contact local advertisers. Use local city ordinances to shut them down.

This is so messed up. I'm sick of this shit. I'm sick of Traitor Trump and the rest of his fucked up sheep followers.

26% of the country voted for Trump, nowhere near close to 50%.

Poeple aren't begging for this take over, it's happening largely without anyone's knowledge. Sinclair is not a political reaction. It's a corporate power grab by the rich elites.

And maybe the reason 90% of the media has negative coverage about Trump is because Trump is actually a terrible and wholly ineffective President. The easiest way for his coverage to improve is to start doing work and learning how the country operates, not golfing and getting into grade school spats on twitter.

You don't buy up media stations to force positive coverage about you. That's propaganda in its truest form.

You ironically left out those most culpable, Trump voters.

Pussy Riot "Make America Great Again"

pretty awesome NSFW

The fact that people are discussing the current events means they are creating awareness. It's ultimately up to the people watching to get involved in some manner, either by voting with their wallets or by writing letters to their congress critters.

Keep in mind that many of these issues have been evolving over decades and involve very wealthy individuals. Moving the needle on these entrenched issues isn't going to happen over-night and one show cannot bear the full responsibility for affecting change on every single issue at hand.

Ajit Pai needs to be thrown in jail. He's selling our country out.

if we don't flip the congress in 2018 the country may be lost :(

Maybe if less than 90% of the stuff he said and did was batshit crazy, the media percentage would go down as well. Just a thought.

The are trying to rig the votes too.. if they do that, then it might be time organize in a very serious way, and use every tool we have. But most of all, goddam VOTE for the opposition in any way we can. The only way we are going to be safe is if we vote out every one of these people out and start passing laws and undoing all the Telecom de-regulation that happened during Clinton. Break the propaganda infratructure the Republicans have created and ignore anything the media says especially when it comes to false equivalances they love so much.

Glad I took the time to watch that.

To the local news stations: 'Goodluck with that shit.'

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

Many people are waiting for 2018, and then will take action if the votes goes the other way.

It will be too late then, even for street protests

So is the media not supposed to cover what actually happens?

Because if you're claiming that they make up those negative stories then yes they are in the wrong...but how many news bureaus aren't covering Trump in his tweets and his White House chaos, Russia? Seems like it's a conglomerate of Fox News, a handful of crazy right-wing radio shows and Infowars. Even Breitbart has had some criticism... Should in the very least make you wonder why this is the case. Can you even consider that this guy is batshit crazy?

The market is begging for anything, this is a corporate takeover, this is power buying influence. This is an attempt to brainwash morning even further. Anyone who's ever listen to Boris Epstheyn and believed a word he says is already braindead. The man is transparently flawed.

There isn't some forgotten group of people out there, that's a bullshit narrative. Nobody is forgotten in this country because if you try hard enough and remain persistent, you can do something from almost nothing.

It's the people who cry the most who try the least.

More people than you think watch the news in the morning, after work, and at night than you think.

Your flair indicates you live in Ohio. Ohio does not allocate electoral college votes by district; it's winner take all. And Hillary did not win Ohio. So your abstention did impact the outcome of the election in a swing state.

The FCC website has crashed on two separate occasions when he called for comments.

Sinclair has a station in St. Louis that airs this show with an asshole Sean Hannity wannabe named Jamie Allman. It's seriously vomit inducing.

Just remember, the second he decides he has sufficiently betrayed the country enough he will take a private-sector job where he will be paid more in a year than most Americans make during their lifetime.

You should know that FCC regulates the Internet too. That's why Net Neutrality was so important? The telecoms decide who gets the fast internet. Already I think I heard that the FCC chief doesn't think that high speed internet is necessary for regular consumers. So no, they will be coming for the Internet. Nothing is safe.


Basically, they think there is no need for competition in broadband space. Opening for more consolidation and less choice and possibly less speed. We are dealing with evil criminals.

everybody has bias. of course John Oliver has a bias.

now its you turn, can you say his stuff is not well researched? can you say that he cherry picks? and he does go after democrats when they are caught and otherwise makes fun of them and talked about issues with the DNC during the 2016 elections. Now about wikileaks, how do you know they don't cherrypick or vet sources? they don't have a very transparent selection or vetting process. see, everyone has a bias. the real question is how well they defend their commentary

as people will simply stop watching.

and also plenty of people will start believing this shit.

I couldn't imagine anything being more off-putting than watching my local news channel and inexplicably they suddenly go off on a canned rant about how awesome Donald Trump is supposed to be. This is probably going to kill local news networks as people will simply stop watching.

Lousy media, reporting facts and playing video of trump saying or doing something stupid. Why can't they be more like Hannity and just lie?

To many people in my state are for killing (or at least running over) protesters of any kind. Shit's getting real bad real fast.

They're all over Reddit and other social media too. They're ideological parasites.

They call it The John Oliver Effect

He's nudged local governments to be more transparent and helped make some meaningful changes to bail. Fifa lost its Budweiser endorsement which was huge (he drank bud light lime and called it delicious for that) which was in part of the negative press which John Oliver was part of.

No, in this day and age, everyone is responsible for their own ignorance.

This is why Palmer Lucky can go fuck himself. To that rich idiot, it's all a game, all laughs. He is a complete POS.

Local news has been godawful for decades anyway. Luckily we have PBS still.

Donate to pbs everyone.

What the hell does the FCC have to do with federally regulating communications companies?


From my archives, here is a must-read post from another user in this sub who used to work at the Sinclair Broadcasting Corp

(I would paste it in but too many links)

Which is kind of fucking ridiculous now that I think about it. We have a PBS (here's hoping it makes it out of this administration alive), but not a dedicated station for broadcasting actual political content. Just four other channels that air endless political commentary.

How many people said that to themselves... and watched as their Hillary stronghold flipped by a handful of votes.

Mathematically speaking, third party voters are not to blame. An unrealistic number of them would have had to break for Clinton in order to overcome Trump's margin of victory in the key states.

Voters that chose not to vote at all can go fuck themselves.

26%, because everyone watches TV but not everyone votes.

The people who voted for him don't have a right to be fed lies about his failures. The media's obligation is to report the facts, not protect the feelings of conservative snowflakes. If you want a President who receives friendlier coverage, vote smarter next time.

So state run media? What's next? Let's get rid of that pesky Constitution?

Internet, climate, local news, our electoral integrity.... is there anything they don't want to ruin for everyone?


Not to mention having news on in the background, so even if they're not paying direct attention that repeated framing of the news will mold their opinions of current events and politics.

people in my state are for killing (or at least running over) protesters of any kind

Not any kind. They would never run over these guys

people in my state are for killing (or at least running over) protesters of any kind

Not any kind. They would never run over

Cspan! Don't forget Cspan!

They already have.

It's the same thing with Russia fucking with our perception of shit, and bombarding us with propaganda. There are absolutely real victims of Russian propaganda among the Trump supporting crowd... and they don't even know it.

When you think about how interesting he makes even the most wonky topics with just a little bit of humor... that man and his writers have real talent.

It is. But what's the average age of people who watch local news; 60?

Your beloved free market has dictated the coverage. If the vast majority didn't agree, they wouldn't tune in.

If you want both sides given equal weight then you should be haranguing your politicians to bring back the fairness doctrine.

Are you fucking serious? He may be biased but the things he talks about are real issues. He's calling out the absolute bullshit that you right wing nut jobs eat up with a spoon. There's a difference between being biased and making shit up. Liberals tend to be biased to their cause (no shit) and republicans are being proven time and time again to just lie lie lie to their base because their base believe anything they say.

And what about your local elections? You just don't care about the issues that are more likely to directly affect you?

We also have him to thank for the country paying attention to civil asset forfeiture and payday loans

Yep. It's about time people realized that in the Information Age, ignorance is a choice and nothing less.

I love Last Week Tonight but is there any evidence of the show actually effecting a meaningful change in any of the issues that have been tackled?

EDIT: Maybe some clarification is needed. I'm not accusing LWT of being a waste of time or ineffective. I am genuinely asking the question on whether the engagement that comes from the show has actually turned into meaningful change. I can't think of anything beyond write in campaigns to the FCC and donations to his fake charity/church.


It was obsolete, but the FCC chief reinstated the loophole.

I think CSPAN is only available on cable.

Tea party consolidated racist haters into a loose knit voting block. They used every dirty trick possible to stack the deck.

The hell you mean, Ttrump voters own up to the shit show? Most of them I’ve spoken to don’t even see the shit show. Remember where they’re getting their news from?

Love it more every time I see it. Have you seen CHAIKA? Gotta read the subs, but so good.

Call/contact your reps would probably be a good start and tell them you oppose the merger. Aside from that, talk to the city council and see what they can do.

we are all to blame

The fuck are you on about? My state went more than 30 points for Trump - my Presidential vote is literally meaningless (didn't stop me from voting - Kobach saw to that). Those who have no power over an outcome have no culpability for that outcome. Period.

Guaranteed there were people in swing districts who "abstained." Again it's all a moot point now and I don't think we've heard the last of Trump's "Vote Commission" that will have a great effect on "Elections" forevermore But the fact remains that unlike the right, the left can't/won't see the bigger picture and as a result we have Trump, potential world-ending war on the horizon and if we live long enough, a conservative Supreme Court for the next 60-80 years.

Local news helped sink the ACA repeal

Where did this thought come from. CNN did HRC no favors during the election cycle. If she's/they really are the Shadow Rulers of CNN I hope they fired a crap ton of people for the BS that went down in October.

At a time when Scott Pruitt is trying to earn the mantle of biggest piece of shit in the Trump admin, Ajit Pai steps up to remind us he's still around.

Well, let me hop right in this time machine and go back in time a hundred years!

Oh, yeah. I know this.

These are the stations that report relatively normal news segments, then all of a sudden there is a jarring transition to a literal state-media-style pundit that tells you that Trump is like the second coming of Christ.

And it is jarring, if you don't know what to expect. I hate these people. They are mixing actual reporting of the day's events/news with magazine style commentary, which is exactly what Fox News' business model is based on. Turning bullshit talking points of the owners of the company into segments/shows that masquerade as the news. And people fall for it.

What's funny is that the actual news part of FoxNews gets a lot of shit from their viewership -- because they actually ask hard questions and criticize Trump&Co. Their viewership isn't used to that and they call those reporters "liberal" and say they should be fired. These people don't know the difference between commentary by a paid actor and an actual journalist. It's very sad, what Fox has created.

With the death of local newspapers I find myself looking to the local stations for other local news. After moving to a city with two Sinclair stations it is creepy how biased their coverage is

Sorry that facts tend to have a liberal bias. Trump is an awful human and an awful president and the coverage reflects that.

Wow... so everything is booming since Trump took over is your belief??

It's on the exact same trajectory that Obama left it on. Trump hasn't added anything. It'll be nice to look back at your nonsense in a year.

What can we do about this?

I HATED Clinton

You fell into their trap. She would have been a great president and was at least as honest and progressive as Obama. I preferred her to Bernie because she's much better at the inside baseball that goes on in Washington. Her greatest failing was how damaged she was by decades of disinformation.

I never knew about them until the LWT segment on them.

So this is how democracy ends... with a douche holding a giant Reese's coffee mug.


How could anyone say dropping the bombs on Japan was good for the Japanese?

Sure, you can argue that ultimately, it saved a lot of lives, which would've been lost through the course of a conventional invasion. That's likely accurate.

But saying the radiation was good for them? What the fuck?

Redditors wonder why I’m so angry. It’s blatant bullshit like this.

Obviously. No one can honestly say "there is no difference" anymore.

If you elect a piece of shit idiot he's going to get called out as a piece of shit idiot. Man the fuck up and stop whining about it. He's not getting a participation trophy.

Effecting change is actually the correct usage in this case. Affecting change is altering a change that already exists. Effecting change is creating change. I've typed change enough times now that it's sounding funny in my head.

Edit: Here's what the Oxford dictionary has to say about it.

To Trump supporters reporting on what Trump does and says is "bashing!"

It would be funny if it weren't ruining this country.

I guess the difficult part to understand on your part is you don't understand the difference between laws passed by Congress and rules and regulations put in place by executive agencies that iron out the broad reaching language and goals in legislation. Administrative law can be a bit tricky to understand at first

Let's play this game.

I'm still undefeated.

So, you think that media suppresses positive Trump stories.

Name five positive things that Trump has done that haven't been reported by the media.

edit: Still undefeated.

Shit wasn't great before all this though. We banned TV from our home 11 years ago. When I go to,someone's house and I see it... It's down right obnoxious. The comercials talk to the viewers as if you'r an absolute stupid asshole. Jumpy, loud, flashy and with the point that they only want your money for some ludicris $38,000 car, or some building, or some money making scheme or some fake gold coins. It's strange and surreal to see, and you pay...what? Hundreds of dollars a month to be talked to like that pounding capitalism and materalism down your throat? It's gross...