If you were near the internet over the weekend, you saw the viral video showing trusted local TV anchors being transformed into pro-Trump robots reciting propaganda over local news airwaves.

You may have even recognized some of the S.C. anchors who appeared in the video published at Deadspin.com.

In recent weeks, local TV news anchors at stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group were forced into service as spokespeople of the nation’s largest local TV owner. The Deadspin video shows Sinclair anchors reading nearly-identical messages that parrots President Donald Trump’s war on the media, calling fake news “extremely dangerous to our democracy.”

CNN media reporter Brian Stelter calls the move one of “several programming decisions that reflect a right-wing agenda” by Sinclair over the past few years.

In Charleston, Sinclair owns ABC News 4, which makes an appearance in the video. Columbia’s WACH Fox and WPDE in Florence are the two other S.C. affiliates that appear in the video.[image-1] Monday morning, Trump reacted after a weekend of the video getting buzz, tweeting that it’s “funny to watch” major networks criticize Sinclair, calling them far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC.” (Some Sinclair affiliates are local NBC stations.)

As a result of the national reaction over the pre-written diatribe documented by Deadspin, staff at one station told Stelter today, “Everyone is really embarrassed after watching the Deadspin video.” While the robotic recitations are cringeworthy, Sinclair’s contracts for coveted on-air positions can literally make it too expensive to walk away, says Bloomberg.

In an internal memo obtained by CNN on Monday, Sinclair senior VP Scott Livingston addressed what he saw as “misleading, often defamatory” coverage of the company’s “corporate news journalistic responsibility promotional campaign.”

“We are focused on fact-based reporting. That’s our commitment to our communities. That’s the goal of these announcements: to reiterate our commitment to reporting facts in a pursuit of truth.” [embed-2]
Here are all the Sinclair-owned or operated S.C. media market affiliates:



Hardeeville/Savannah, Ga.
Fox 28 WTGS

Florence/Myrtle Beach
WWMB (Fox)

Asheville, NC/Greenville/Spartanburg
News 13 WLOS (ABC)
WMYA (MyNetworkTV)

Source: Sinclair Broadcast Group

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported Fox 24 WTAT as being owned by Sinclair. It is owned by Cunningham Broadcasting.