Montana House Candidate Blasts Sinclair On Their Own Stations

John Heenan, A Democratic candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat, is fed up with the right-wing propaganda of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, so he is doing something about it — by buying ad time on their own television stations to criticize them.

Sinclair, the United States’ largest owner of television stations,  recently received national attention and was severely criticized for requiring that all of its reporters read the same news  statement.

The company sent out a directive last month to each of its local news stations instructing them to broadcast verbatim the same news segment which was created by a former reporter for RT, the Russian propaganda outlet. The segments sounded like a Donald Trump campaign speech in that they trashed the media and decried “fake news” and the “deep state.”

According to the AP, Heenan bought airtime starting Monday for an ad on Sinclair-owned stations KECI-TV in Missoula and KTVM-TV in Bozeman and Butte. In it, he calls Sinclair “a corporation using its power to take advantage of journalists, our democracy and the people of Montana.”

“This station is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, a powerful corporation that forces its journalists to read corporate talking points on the air,” Heenan says in the ad.

General manager Tamy Wagner from KECI reported that she received the ad from Heenan on Friday, and they would run it like any other advertisement.  “We don’t turn away candidate ads,” she said, but declined further comment.

Heenan also confirmed that the Montana Sinclair stations had no objection to his message in the ads. “They cashed our check,” he said.

He is one of four Democrats running in the primary to run against Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte. Gianforte won his seat in Congress in a hotly contested special election last year even after he was videotaped assaulting a reporter who was asking  him a question.

While other Democratic candidates around the country have withdrawn their ads from Sinclair stations in protest, Heenan claims that he is the first candidate to use Sinclair’s own TV airwaves against the right-wing media company. He said he was also showing support for the Sinclair employees who are prohibited from speaking out against the company, while educating viewers about Sinclair’s actions to broadcast propaganda.

“It’s troubling when we as the viewers trust what journalists tell us, particularly when we watch local news,” Heenan said. “Journalists are required to read from a script under threat of their jobs. I know that troubles me and I’m not the only one.”

Heenan also pointed out that Sinclair director Robert E. Smith has contributed $10,000 to Gianforte’s campaigns.


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