Staff at local TV news outlets owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group are furious the company hasn’t apologized to anchors who were forced to read from a script decrying rampant “media bias.”
Over the weekend, Deadspin posted a video compiling dozens of local anchors across the country eerily reciting from the same script criticizing other news outlets—in vaguely Trumpian language—for publishing “fake stories without checking the facts first.”
Staff at three different Sinclair stations, who spoke with The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity, said that in the days since the video was published, staffers have waited for an apology from their parent company, but have received nothing.
Anchors and other employees at Sinclair stations, particularly those in more liberal markets, have been upset by the deluge of threats and hate mail they’ve received since the video was published.
Several indicated a pervasive concern that the public’s anger at local anchors is misplaced, with Sinclair having allowed the local personalities to bear the brunt of backlash.
“Sinclair threw us under the bus, they used us as pawns,” one anchor said.
“The damage is done,” said another on-air personality.
According to three high-level employees at different Sinclair-operated stations, national executives who oversee several regions have made calls to anchors and some staff at multiple stations since the Deadspin video was published. But they have not offered official apologies to individual anchors, a courtesy that several anchors said they’d appreciate.
An employee at one Sinclair-operated station said they were aware that an executive had offered a vague apology on the phone to a different station. But, according to the source, the executive had also complained about the media criticism of what they believe was simply a “promotional campaign.”
In an email sent to multiple Sinclair stations this week, and obtained by The Daily Beast, Scott Livingston, the conglomerate’s senior VP of news, acknowledged that anchors faced personal backlash as a result of the mandated scripts.
But he stopped short of apologizing.
“I know the last 48 hours have been challenging in the wake of some of the reaction to our journalistic responsibility campaign,” Livingston wrote.
“Unfortunately, you are facing the brunt of the reaction on social media. That’s unfortunate. I know all of you did your best in executing this promo spot and I greatly appreciate your efforts.”
He concluded: “I believe the message does reinforce our commitment to objective and fair reporting. It’s disheartening for this message to be distorted and politicized. We will be reaching out to answer any questions.”
But that hasn’t quelled the fuming Sinclair staffers.
“I wish I could tell them to go fuck themselves,” one anchor told The Daily Beast.