Sinclair Broadcast Group asks news directors for PAC donations, challenging journalism profession’s insistence on objectivity

The Washington Post is reporting, in a story by Paul Fahri, that the Sinclair Broadcast Group in Hunt Valley, near Baltimore MD, has asked its news directors to consider making PAC contributions for its political lobbying efforts to secure the rights to buy more television stations (apparently).  The purchase of the Chicago Tribune could be at issue.

The request did  not go to reporters, anchors, or lower-level employees.  However, others in the news business consider this request unethical.

In most news organizations, journalists are prohibited from making political contributions to elections or PACS.

I could speak to my own experience.  I worked for NBC (when it belonged to RCA) as a mainframe (Univac) computer programmer from 1974-1977 in Rockefeller Center in New York City.  This was an interesting time in my own life, to say the least. We were never approached for such contributions.  I worked on general ledger and financial reporting systems, and one of the systems I worked on was the Owned and Operated Stations ledgers.   We nearly made a business trip to Burbank CA for that project. I did learn how sensitive an issue station ownership was in the business at the time.

But with several other jobs that would follow in my career, even lower level employees were asked if they wanted to contribute to PAC’s.  I never did.   In one situation, I was also prodded about giving blood, when it was illegal for me to do so.  In the past, some employers have made a public issue of getting payroll deductions from their employees to specific community charities like United Way, which might sound inappropriate in the news business.

I regard myself as an “independent journalist” now (I hope a sane one who doesn’t act on fake news, about “Crooked Hillary” or anyone else).  That means I normally don’t contribute to political campaigns or PACS’s  It also means that I don’t normally run fund-raising campaigns under my own name on social media for non-profits (which Facebook seems to being to try to goad me to do.)  There is a conceivable complication that my two trusts name three non-profits among the beneficiaries, but that has not been interpreted mean that I actively promote them in public.  If you ponder this a bit, you will realize there are reasons why political resistance groups (especially on the Left) do not like to see bloggers declare themselves as too “independent” to join up.

Sinclair Broadcasting, known as a “conservative” media company like Fox and OANN,  is to be commended for some of its coverage of defense and homeland security issues, including the risk of electromagnetic pulse attacks by enemies (conceivably North Korea, at least E1), or power grid damage from extreme solar storms.  It even conducted a “Your Voice Your Future” session from Green Bay, WI on the subject with the locally owned Washington DC station WJLA (which tends to be much more liberal) advertised for its News Channel 8 but did not carry.

Jessica Corbett of Common Dreams has a story about Sinclair on Truth-Out.

See Pingback to another Conflict of Interest piece on May 30, 2016 posting here.

(Posted: Monday, February 12, 2018 at 6:30 PM EST)

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