The chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group (Sinclair) met with Donald Trump after he secured the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 and told him, “We are here to deliver your message.”
David Smith told The Guardian the meeting took place in Trump Tower and was arranged by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. “I asked [Trump], ‘Would you like us to embed with you during your campaign?’” Smith said in the interview.
According to Smith, Trump did not directly respond to this offer. He attempted to downplay the importance of what he asked Trump, however. He said that his comments to the future president did not state or imply that Sinclair would be “acting as a mouthpiece for Trump.”
“We told him that he could be interviewed by Sinclair whenever he chose,” Smith reportedly said.
Smith also met with officials at the White House to pitch a technology that would allow the government to “broadcast direct” to any smartphone, TV, or laptop.
Sinclair has been severely criticized in the media recently for its “must-run” segments at its TV stations. These segments were created by people with ties to Russia and promoted several of Donald Trump’s ideas, such as the existence of a “deep state” and his accusation that mainstream media disseminates “fake news.”
Sinclair owns more TV stations than any other company in the country and as a result could reach up to 72% of American households if the FCC approves a proposed merger. If this company continues to require its news outlets to promote right-wing propaganda, then our democracy may be severely curtailed and even threatened. It has been called “the most dangerous company in America.”
President Trump (or course) defended Sinclair’s actions and said there is nothing wrong with the company giving prepared scripts to all of its news anchors to read. He also said that CNN and NBC were biased and Sinclair was not, which nobody believes except him and his right-wing supporters.
In the interview Smith also was critical of presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner. It was widely reported that Kushner had been boasting about a special relationship between Sinclair and the Trump presidential campaign. He said that he had struck a deal whereby Trump would receive favorable coverage on Sinclair stations and in return Sinclair journalists receive favorable access from the campaign.
Smith has tried to dismiss criticism of Sinclair but it appears that by giving this interview he has actually done the opposite and confirmed the belief that the company has used its media power to further the candidacy and the presidency of Donald Trump, much to the detriment of our country.