FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 2, 2018
CLOSE TO 800,000 UTAHNS SAW “FAKE NEWS” MESSAGING ON KUTV 2 NEWS
Salt Lake City, UT – Over the weekend, Deadspin released a video showing local news stations across the nation reading a scripted promo about “fake news” and the “troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.”
The video, which quickly went viral on Twitter and other social media networks, included a segment from KUTV Channel 2, Utah’s CBS affiliate that is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair, the owner of nearly 200 local television statements across the nation, required each of its local news stations to record and air the promo.
Alliance for a Better Utah ran a report which found this promo was aired on KUTV Channel 2 a total of nineteen times between March 23 to March 30. These segments, aired during news segments at various times of the day, reached a combined viewership of 795,227 people. The report can be viewed here.
“We were outraged to see this video over the weekend and disappointed that Utah’s largest local news station was involved,” said Chase Thomas, policy and advocacy counsel for Alliance for a Better Utah. “It’s extremely concerning that our local news is being co-opted for political purposes. Hundreds of thousands of Utahns were unwittingly fed conspiratorial anti-media messaging while simply trying to watch their local news report.”
Sinclair has reportedly required its stations to broadcast conservative-leaning reports and content in the past. Following news that Sinclair was acquiring Tribune Media Company, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver aired a segment examining such practices. Fox Channel 13, another local television station, is owned by Tribune Media and would potentially be required to do the same if the acquisition is approved by the Federal Communications Commission, which is reviewing the deal.
“Americans generally trust local news stations more than their national cable counterparts,” continued Thomas. “Outright bias has come to be expected from Fox News or MSNBC but it is sad to see one of our local stations is no longer allowed to be immune from this trend in news reporting. We deeply respect the journalistic integrity of our local news stations and are saddened to see this forced fear mongering by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. We hope this video reminds Utahns of the need to read and watch news with an eye toward potential ideological bias.”