The fallout for Sinclair Broadcasting stations continue after a viral video showed them all reading from the same script about “fake news.” Leann Jacobsen, one of the Democratic candidates looking to take on Steve King in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, is calling for a boycott of all the Sinclair stations that cover the Western Iowa seat. She’s also pledging to not run campaign TV ads on any of them and is encouraging her two Democratic primary opponents to do the same.
“The behavior and actions taken by Sinclair Broadcast Group hit at the very core of a free and independent press, a cornerstone of this great nation,” Jacobsen said in an email to her supporters this week. “This is what propaganda looks like and we are seeing it unfold right now.”
It’s a tactic that’s been gaining attention as national outrage on the left grows over the conservative media giant’s influence on local media stations. A Kentucky Democratic congressional candidate, Amy McGrath, drew coverage for her decision to pull her TV ads from Sinclair stations while in the middle of a competitive Democratic primary.
Sinclair owns quite a few outlets across Iowa. Among the owned stations are KPTH (Fox, Channel 44 Sioux City), KMEG (CBS, Channel 14 Sioux City), KDSM-TV (Fox, Channel 17 Des Moines), KGAN (CBS, Channel 2 Cedar Rapids/Waterloo), KFXA (Fox, Channel 28 Cedar Rapids/Waterloo), KTVO (ABC, Channel 2 Ottumwa).
Several employees at Sinclair-owned stations have spoken out since the video spread on social media. That included a producer at a Nebraska station who resigned in protest over being forced to run the script.
“This is almost forcing local news anchors to lie to their viewers,” the man told CNN.
Jacobsen’s call to not run ads on Sinclair stations hasn’t been publicly joined by her primary opponents, though considering no one in the 4th District race is running TV ads, the impact isn’t that big at this point. The call for district residents to boycott the stations outright by not watching them, however, is notable.
by Pat Rynard