The union, which represents the anchors, said on Wednesday that the criticism of the anchors is “misdirected.” SAG-AFTRA also said it has reached out to Sinclair to express its concern over the campaign and declared that it opposes such directives.
“The journalists who work for Sinclair Broadcast Group are hard-working and dedicated professionals who care deeply about the work that they do,” SAG-AFTRA said. “Over the last couple of days, many of them have been the subject of misdirected criticism for the script Sinclair required them to read for its recent promotional campaign.
“SAG-AFTRA has been in contact with Sinclair to express our concerns with this campaign, and we stand with our members and journalists everywhere in challenging corporate directives that call into question the journalistic integrity of the news presented to the public,” the memo continues. “SAG-AFTRA opposes such directives in the interest of defending the professionalism of journalists and preserving the basic rights of a free and independent press.”
Sinclair’s efforts have received new scrutiny in the past few days after the website Deadspin assembled a short video showing anchors at dozens of Sinclair stations reciting the same “fake news” warning word for word. The Sinclair script does not mention President Donald Trump by name.
The company initiated a policy earlier this year of having anchors at its 170-plus TV stations around the country read the same warning about bias in news and false reports being “extremely dangerous to our democracy.” That has drawn fire from critics who say Sinclair is using its broad reach in local news to buttress Trump’s frequent attacks on mainstream news outlets that have published tough reports about his administration, personal life, and family.
Sinclair maintains that the messages from anchors are designed to warn viewers about made-up news stories and partisan-skewed information that spreads via social media. In a statement on Monday, Sinclair insisted that the anchor promotional effort was motivated by polls showing deep distrust among the public of mainstream news coverage.