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Portland’s KATU-TV Among the Stations That Read Sinclair’s Scripted Attack on the “Irresponsible, One-Sided” Media

Sinclair, which owns more local TV stations than another company in the U.S., had ordered the script read. Deadspin put the video evidence together this weekend.

Anchors from Portland station KATU-TV were among those to read a statement last month denouncing "the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country."

The statement, which carries echoes of President Donald Trump's attacks on the press and which was mandated by station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group, has raised national ire since a compilation video was released over the weekend by the sports website Deadspin.

The Deadspin video presented a compelling and eerie montage of local news anchors from stations across the country, all owned by Sinclair, the nation's largest owner of local TV news stations. In unison, they recited a script that cast doubt on other outlets' reporting.

Deadspin's Timothy Burke put it like this: "The net result of the company's current mandate is dozens upon dozens of local news anchors looking like hostages in proof-of-life videos, trying their hardest to spit out words attacking the industry they'd chosen as a life vocation."

KATU is WW's TV news partner, and WW does a weekly segment on the air with the station.

Managers at KATU declined comment, and pointed WW to a statement from Sinclair's corporate office that referenced the script's warnings about social media but not about other journalism.

"We aren't sure of the motivation for the criticism, but find it curious that we would be attacked for asking our news people to remind their audiences that unsubstantiated stories exist on social media, which result in an ill-informed public with potentially dangerous consequences," said Scott Livingston, Sinclair's senior vice president of news.

"It is ironic that we would be attacked for messages promoting our journalistic initiative for fair and objective reporting, and for specifically asking the public to hold our newsrooms accountable. Our local stations keep our audiences' trust by staying focused on fact-based reporting and clearly identifying commentary."

CNN was first to report on the script's existence earlier this month.

It's not the first time Sinclair, whose right-wing, Baltimore-based owners have ambitions to challenge Fox News for conservative viewers, has upended journalistic norms.

In 2004, Sinclair ordered local stations to run a "documentary" attacking Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry for protesting the Vietnam War after serving in the military.

Today, the company received an endorsement that probably won't do it much good among Portland viewers.

The good and bad news: more Americans turn to Facebook for news.

Update, 5:05 pm: An internal KATU-TV memo warns against talking to the media, Oregonian columnist Samantha Swindler tweeted.