The Fallout Continues Over Those ‘Egregious’ Sinclair Promos

They're a 'threat to democracy,' one candidate said

Amy Schumer is among those protesting Sinclair-owned TV stations. Getty Images
Headshot of Sara Jerde

Actress and comedian Amy Schumer canceled an interview scheduled for a local, Sinclair-owned TV station. And a slew of Democrats running for office have vowed not to have their commercials air on Sinclair properties.

Such has been the fallout over what one candidate called, “egregious” Sinclair promos.

The promos say that “one-sided news stories” were being published from some media outlets including, “fake stories without checking facts first.”

The promos went viral after Deadspin created a mashup of anchors reading the word-for-word scripts in markets throughout the country.

Schumer, who is also a published author, canceled an interview this week to promote her new movie, I Feel Pretty, with WJLA, an ABC affiliate based in Virginia and owned and operated by Sinclair, as BuzzFeed News reported.

A spokeswoman for Schumer did not immediately return a request for comment.

Neither did a spokesperson for WJLA nor a Sinclair representative.

Sinclair, based in Baltimore, boasts that it will own and operate programs or sales services, after pending transactions, to more than 160 TV stations among 77 markets.

But losing out on that audience has not swayed Democratic candidates running for office from pulling their ads from those airwaves.

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, a Democratic candidate for the governor of Maryland, won’t run her ads on Sinclair stations, and said she would focus on using alternative methods, such as social media and other digital platforms, to get out her message.

“The blatant use of local affiliates to propagate these blatant propaganda pieces was egregious and eye-opening and it reflects them as a very real threat to democracy,” Vignarajah said. “No political candidate should sit silent.”

Amy McGrath, a congressional candidate from Kentucky, called on other Democrats to boycott the TV stations.

“Through the power of a boycott, and how we use our supporters’ contributions, we can stand up to this threat to our independent media and send a firm message that these actions will not be tolerated in a nation where the freedom of the press is vital,” McGrath said on Twitter.

Gareth Rhodes, a Democrat and congressional candidate from New York, tweeted that he was also boycotting Sinclair and would not run his ads on affiliates the company owns. Neither will Ken Romley, a Democrat in North Carolina, running for a congressional seat, The News & Observer reported.

Or David Trone, a congressional candidate from Maryland, his spokesman, Alex Koren said.

“After he learned that Sinclair stations were using the airwaves to advance the Trump agenda, David made a decision to place his campaign ads elsewhere,” Koren said.

An advocacy group, Allied Progress, has also produced an ad calling on viewers to call the FCC and halt Sinclair’s proposed acquisition of Tribune Media. The group confirmed today that the ads would run in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, that it was trying to get the ad to run over the weekend in Baltimore and D.C. and that it was awaiting on final approval to have it run in Seattle.


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@SaraJerde sara.jerde@adweek.com Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.
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