Sinclair Broadcast Group has decided to scrap the political commentary segments that have aired across its vast station group since 2017.
Boris Epshteyn, former Trump campaign official turned chief political analyst for Sinclair, has been delivering commentary segments that were mandated to run adjacent to local newscasts on all Sinclair stations since the spring of 2017. In January, Sinclair hired liberal commentator Ameshia Cross to offer another political perspective. Epshteyn and Cross’ segments have typically run back-to-back on a weekly basis. Both will have their final segments air on Dec. 13.
The news, first reported by NBC News.com, raised immediate speculation that Epshteyn would return to the Trump orbit for the 2020 presidential campaign. But a knowledgeable source said Epshteyn would remain with Sinclair and possibly have an on-air role. A company spokesman said Sinclair and Epshteyn are still discussing options. Cross also may stay associated with Sinclair in some fashion.
The spokesman said Sinclair’s decision came after the company decided to devote more resources to investigative reporting efforts.
Epshteyn’s hire added to the criticism that Sinclair’s newscasts often take a conservative stance on the headlines and that the editorial focus is unabashedly pro-Trump. Sinclair has come under fire over the years for airing politically charged documentaries about former Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, among other controversies. The decision to have a uniform political commentary run across all of its nearly 200 stations also spurred criticism that Sinclair was forgoing local programming interests to in order to promote a broader agenda.
On Twitter, Epshteyn sought to emphasize that he intends to stay with Sinclair. “I look forward to working with this great company,” he wrote.
Cross made an indirect reference to the change in a Twitter message.