Sinclair Fires EP Over Political Tweets, Warns Stations of ‘Liberal Bias’

By Kevin Eck Comment

WWMT executive producer Randy Lubratich was fired from the Sinclair-owned station last week after violating the station group’s social media guidelines.

Lubratich sent two tweets about education secretary Betsy DeVos. The Daily Banter reports “they were deleted as soon as the station, WWMT in Kalamazoo, Michigan, brought them up to her and eventually suspended her for them — the person in question says that, all in all, they were pretty tame, expressing frustration but not outright anger.”

“The powers that be have decided that because of my political leanings I can not be unbiased in my job,” Lubratich wrote in a Facebook post. “For those who know my company…I will wait till you stop laughing before I continue.”

Here’s a tweet by Lubratich about DeVos, though we can’t confirm if it had anything to do with her termination:

The firing comes as Sinclair vp of news Scott Livingston sent out an internal memo warning staffers of “one-sided political coverage” and a perception of “liberal bias” among the station group’s viewers on social media. “The Chairman of our company, David Smith, has received several complaints from board members who have received calls about biased coverage,” wrote Livingston.

Monday, FTVLive published Livingston’s internal memo.

Here’s the memo as published by FTVLive:

From: Scott Livingston
Sent: Friday, February 10, 2017 4:17 PM
Subject: Coverage concerns

Hi Everyone,

I want to remind everyone of our policy regarding personal political postings and fairness with our reporting. I’m seeing a troubling trend across many of our stations with one-sided political coverage. I want to make sure you’re taking time to review with your team the importance of understanding our commitment to tracking the truth and challenging the accepted narrative in the mainstream media. I have been reviewing some of the reaction on our stations’ social media accounts about a liberal bias in our reporting. After watching numerous stations’ newscasts and reviewing our Facebook pages, I think there is reason to be concerned. While criticism of the media from both the political left and right is not unprecedented, it has become far more prevalent in recent months. We have to understand we are the news operation that takes additional steps to make sure our reporting is fair and unbiased.

This election was emotionally charged with many strong reactions and opinions, but as journalists we must remain objective. We will not tolerate any deviation from our goal to provide fair and balanced coverage.

It’s important for us to understand viewers’ frustration with the lack of depth in reporting on the transition of power. We’re witnessing less objectivity from a variety of media outlets. This is potentially perilous to our profession because when viewers and readers lose trust in us, they stop consuming the news we produce.

Trust in the media has been declining in the last decade due to biased reporting. What we do is truly a privilege and it’s our responsibility to make sure our coverage is fair. We must provide the context of these hot button political stories so our viewers understand that we’re committed to providing more than the rhetoric.

The Chairman of our company, David Smith, has received several complaints from board members who have received calls about biased coverage.

We will not allow our platform to be used to exploit someone’s personal agenda. Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.

Scott Livingston
Vice President of News
Sinclair Broadcast Group