Justin Simmons, a morning TV producer at a Nebraska station owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, announced on Twitter Wednesday that he has left his post.
“I no longer work at NTV News. Here’s why,” the tweet reads, followed by a link to CNN story breaking the resignation news. Simmons cited the recent controversial promos Sinclair aired last month, which used language akin to Donald Trump’s “fake news” rhetoric to bash media organizations, as a contributing factor in his departure.
In his resignation letter, Simmons claimed the organization forced him to air “several segments that have made me uncomfortable,” of which the promos were only the most recent example. He added that he has felt “on edge” toward Sinclair for the past year and a half.
“This is almost forcing local news anchors to lie to their viewers,” he said.
The content Simmons opposed came in the form of “must-runs,” national stories that corporate allegedly sent its local producers to report, no questions asked. An example of the must-runs includes the “Terrorism Alert Desk” segment, warning of potential threats to national security.
Aaron Weiss, a former news director at another Sinclair-owned station, also told CNN he did not approve of the corporation’s “conservative-slanted” must-run pieces.
“Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with conservative-slanted news or liberal-slanted news — but own it,” Weiss said. “The problem with what Sinclair does is they co-opt the credibility that local anchors have built up in their communities over years and decades.”
In the wake of the backlash, Sinclair defended the promos, claiming they “served no political agenda, and represented nothing more than an effort to differentiate our award-winning news programming from other, less reliable sources of information.”
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