Last month, Sinclair Broadcasting Corp. was called out for mandating that its local stations take on a scripted promotional campaign.
The story resurfaced last week, as people began seeing the spots and Media Matters for America published the full transcript along with links to videos from stations airing the spots, including KMPH FOX 26 in Fresno.
The 60- to 75-second editorials are read by local anchors and air during local news programs. The spots bemoan the "troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country," in what CNN says sound "like pro-Trump propaganda."
KMPH (which is owned by Sinclair) last month deferred comment on the campaign to Scott Livingston, Sinclair's senior vice president of news, who called reports "an attempt to create a story where none exist."
Now a writer with Deadspin has put together a supercut of the promo from dozens of affiliates under the headline:" How America's Largest Local TV Owner Turned Its News Anchors Into Soldiers In Trump's War On The Media."
The video hit social media, spawning calls for a viewer boycott, a pullout of advertisers and an employee walkout (to happen May 15). The latter is a point of contractual obligation with Sinclair, according to several Twitter users.
The rest would not be easy, either. According to Age, Sinclair's structure (it owns 193 stations in 89 U.S. markets, has affiliations with all the major networks and is in the midst of a deal to buy Tribune Media Co.) makes it far harder to organize a boycott against it than against national programs.
On Monday, Livingston responded to the Deadspin video, saying it was "ironic" that the company would "be attacked for messages promoting our journalistic initiative for fair and objective reporting," according to Associated Press.
President Donald Trump tweeted his reaction, saying "Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke."
At least one Sinclair station, Fox 47 Madison, did not air the spots. The station tweeted about its decision Monday afternoon.