I’m not going to romanticize Tribune, Inc, they of the TRONC-ish nightmare and the propensity to lose their damn mind, but being bought by Sinclair Media is a disaster. This is the type of media consolidation that is the death-knell of democracy.
Part of it is, of course, that Sinclair leans very hard to the right, having made a deal with the Trump campaign for interviews across the board in exchange for favorable coverage and softball questions. This friendship was rewarded with even deeper ties (something I missed until just now).
The conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group’s announcement that it hired former White House aide Boris Epshteyn as its chief political analyst suggests a move to deepen its ties with President Donald Trump’s administration.
So I’m guessing we aren’t exactly going to get in-depth coverage of this administration out of the nation’s largest media company, who own at least one affiliate in every media market, and now have bought one of the nation’s other largest media company.
Their ties to a hideous right-wing admin are bad enough, but it might not be useful to think of them simply as right-wing. They are in a way more insidious. Their entire corporate ethos is aligned against thought, against inquiry, and against anything that doesn’t support the bottom line. They are the quintessence of corporate media, perpetuating a thoughtless status quo. Actual journalism is anathema.
You can see that in their radio empire, which has helped to make every other station in America dental-office bland, with the exact same DJ teams playing the exact same songs (when they even have DJs, that is) across the country, an endless aural strip mall. That’s their vision of the media. It is inherently right wing, because it enforces conformity. It might not be the ravaging alt-right horde or embrace the racism of Jeff Sessions (indeed, it embraces the bland multicultural appeal of a Coke commercial), but by destroying independent media and actual journalistic inquiry, and by embracing ties to the powerful as a means of profit-driving leverage, it allows for shameless goons like Trump to flourish.
The beige boot of corporate conformity is embodied in this almost-parodic statement, which might as well serve as the epitaph for American journalism.
“This is a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the company,” said Chris Ripley, president-CEO of Sinclair. “The Tribune stations are highly complementary to Sinclair’s existing footprint and will create a leading nationwide media platform that includes our country’s largest markets. The acquisition will enable Sinclair to build ATSC 3.0 (Next Generation Broadcast Platform) advanced services, scale emerging networks and national sales, and integrate content verticals. The acquisition will also create substantial synergistic value through operating efficiencies, revenue streams, programming strategies and digital platforms.”