Sinclair Broadcast Group is looking to set the record straight about recent reports it made a special deal giving now president-elect Donald Trump special coverage during the election.
“Over the past three days, there have been numerous misleading press stories about Sinclair’s election coverage,” writes Scott Livingston vp of News at Sinclair. “I now need to set the record straight. We offered both major presidential candidates the same opportunities to be interviewed by our local anchors on a regular basis. There was no ‘deal’ on the tone, tenor, or subject of the interviews. We did not offer favorable or preferential treatment to either candidate, nor did we ever waiver from our commitment to provide rigorous, thoughtful, and thorough coverage to the millions who rely on local television.”
On Friday, Politico reported six people heard Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner tell Manhattan executives Trump’s campaign struck a deal with Sinclair to give more access in exchange for the station group airing the interviews across the country “without commentary.”
“It is in everyone’s best interest that candidates speak to voters through interviews with professional reporters,” Livingston said. “Our outreach to both Secretary Clinton’s and President-elect Trump’s campaigns was meant to deliver meaningful, informative newscasts to our local viewers. We stand behind that practice.”
“After hearing from Sinclair’s representatives and viewing emails between the company and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign, I don’t believe the interview arrangements fell outside what would be considered ethical journalism,” said Andrew Seaman, chair of the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethics committee who published a piece critical of Sinclair on Saturday. “Therefore, I apologize to Sinclair for assuming the Politico story, which was based off third-party reports, was accurate. From what I can tell, the situation is a victim of a game of telephone. One person makes a statement, another person repeats that statement with some errors and it builds upon itself. Unfortunately, I made myself part of the chain by not reaching out to Sinclair for clarification. I’m sorry.”