Sinclair Broadcasting is pushing back against the backlash following a video going viral that mocks the company for having its news anchors read a script that resembles many of the Trump administration's persistent criticisms of the media.
“The critics are now upset about our well-researched journalistic initiative focused on fair and objective reporting,” Sinclair's senior vice president of news, Scott Livingston, said in an internal memo obtained by CNN on Monday.
Livingston went on to defend the initiative, insisting that the news coverage being derided in the promos by dozens of local news broadcasters were “fake/false” stories like “Pope Endorses Trump.”
“For the record, the stories we are referencing in this campaign are the unsubstantiated ones (i.e. fake/false) like 'Pope Endorses Trump' which move quickly across social media and result in an ill-informed public,” Livingston wrote. "Some other false stories, like the false 'Pizzagate' story, can result in dangerous consequences.
“We are focused on fact-based reporting,” he added. “That's our commitment to our communities.”
Deadspin compiled nearly 40 individual readings of the promo by newscasts owned by Sinclair, America's largest operator of local TV stations, and packaged it in a brief video that quickly picked up millions of views and ignited outrage.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) March 31, 2018
In the promos, the anchors state they are “concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.”
“The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media,” the anchors add. "More alarming, national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without checking facts first.”
Earlier on Monday, the president defended Sinclair on Twitter while taking a few extra shots at other news outlets.
“So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased,” Trump tweeted.
“Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”