Trump Defends Conservative Media Company After It Orders Anchors To Bash ‘Biased’ News

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Dozens of local news anchors across the country read the same strongly worded script, thanks to Sinclair Broadcasting.

President Donald Trump on Monday defended Sinclair Broadcasting Group amid reports that the conservative telecommunications company ordered local news anchors to recite a script condemning other media outlets.

“Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke,” Trump tweeted. 

Sinclair, which owns or operates more than 170 TV stations across the U.S., has come under fire in recent weeks for directing dozens of anchors to read from the same strongly worded script during on-air broadcasts.

“The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media,” the script read. “Some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias. ... This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.”

Deadspin created a supercut of anchors reading the script. ThinkProgress shared a similar clip that showed newscasters reciting the identical lines: 

Scott Livingston, the company’s senior vice president of news, told The Baltimore Sun that the script was a way for Sinclair to reiterate its “commitment to reporting facts.”

“We are focused on fact-based reporting,” Livingston told the Sun. “That’s our commitment to our communities. That’s the goal of these announcements: to reiterate our commitment to reporting facts in a pursuit of truth.”

Sinclair, the country’s largest broadcaster, has been accused of pushing for pro-Trump content to run on its stations. It’s not uncommon for the company to send its stations “must-run” video segments that feature positive commentary about Trump, The New York Times reports.

The broadcasting group is currently in the process of purchasing Tribune Media, which would allow Sinclair to reach 72 percent of U.S. households.  



Advertisers Ditching Laura Ingraham’s Show Over Attack On Parkland Survivor

The Fox News host mocked 17-year-old David Hogg for not getting into a few colleges.

Several companies announced Thursday that they were pulling the plug on advertising during Laura Ingraham’s show after the Fox News host bashed a teen survivor of the Parkland school shooting.

Nutrish, the pet food line owned by celebrity chef Rachael Ray, was the first to tweet that it would no longer advertise during Ingraham’s show. 

“We are in the process of removing our ads from Laura Ingraham’s program, as the comments she has made are not consistent with how we feel people should be treated,” a spokesman for Nutrish told HuffPost in a statement.

Hours later, travel site TripAdvisor and home goods retailer Wayfair followed suit.

In a statement to HuffPost, TripAdvisor said Ingraham’s comments crossed “the line of decency”:

We believe strongly in the values of our company, especially the one that says, “We are better together.”   

We also believe Americans can disagree while still being agreeable, and that the free exchange of ideas within a community, in a peaceful manner, is the cornerstone of our democracy. 

We do not, however, condone the inappropriate comments made by this broadcaster. In our view, these statements focused on a high school student, cross the line of decency. As such, we have made a decision to stop advertising on that program.

Ingraham did not address the controversy on her show, “The Ingraham Angle,” on Thursday evening. Several national retailers still featured advertisements during the commercial breaks, including Gillette and Progressive Insurance, although ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum noted that the Ad Council was also featured, possibly as filler material after some companies distanced themselves from the program.

A spokeswoman for Wayfair, which pulled its ads, told HuffPost that Ingraham’s comments were “not consistent with our values.”

“As a company, we support open dialogue and debate on issues,” the Wayfair spokeswoman said. “However, the decision of an adult to personally criticize a high school student who has lost his classmates in an unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values. We do not plan to continue advertising on this particular program.”

The companies’ announcements came a day after Ingraham mocked David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, for not getting accepted into a few of the colleges he’d applied to.

In response, Hogg called on people to pressure a dozen companies to remove their ads from Ingraham’s programs, which include “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News and a morning radio show on Talk 1370 AM of Austin, Texas. Nutrish, TripAdvisor and Wayfair are pulling their commercials from the Fox News show, the companies confirmed to HuffPost.

Ingraham apologized Thursday afternoon on Twitter for “any upset or hurt my tweet caused [Hogg] or any of the brave victims of Parkland.”

Hogg dismissed Ingraham’s apology in an interview Thursday with The New York Times.

“She only apologized after we went after her advertisers,” Hogg said. “It kind of speaks for itself. ... I’m not going to stoop to her level and go after her on a personal level. I’m going to go after her advertisers.”

Expedia and Nestlé told HuffPost on Thursday that they would no longer advertise on Ingraham’s show, but did not immediately specify when this decision was made or whether her remarks about Hogg played a role in it.

“We have no plans to buy ads on the show in the future,” the Nestlé spokesman said.

Johnson & Johnson told HuffPost on Thursday that it “will pull advertising from Ms. Ingraham’s show.” Stitch Fix also confirmed to HuffPost that it would stop purchasing ads on her program.

Hulu tweeted that evening in reply to Hogg, saying it would similarly cease such advertising.

HuffPost reached out to every company on Hogg’s list of Ingraham advertisers, as well as others the teen tweeted out from a list compiled by Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog. Nutrish, TripAdvisor, Wayfair, Expedia, Nestlé, Johnson & Johnson, Hulu and Stitch Fix have responded or otherwise made public statements. Jos. A. Bank also told The Daily Beast it had no plans to buy ads on her program in the future.

A representative of Fox News declined to comment beyond Ingraham’s apology on Twitter.



The Left's 'Collusion' Narrative Takes Another Hit: NYT Reporter Admits WH Policies Demonstrate Trump Hasn't Been Weak on Russia

Here's how the story used to go: The Russians interfered in the 2016 US election on behalf of Donald Trump because they knew could count on him to be friendlier to their interests than Hillary Clinton -- and Trumpworld, eager to win at any cost, was happy to colludewith Moscow to vanquish his domestic rival.  He'd carry water for the Kremlin once elected to reciprocate Putin's generosity, and he'd feel forced to do so even if he didn't really want to.  Why?  Because the Russians also had some scandalous dirt on Trump that they could hold over his head as a means of coercive leverage.  That was, in broad strokes, the thrust of the Left's unified anti-Trump theory vis-a-vis Russia.  We know that Russia's electoral meddling was real and serious, but the "collusion" angle has never been remotely proven, even if this apparent incident of active openness to potential collusion (possibly orchestrated by Democratic operatives) is certainly not a good look.  

Much of the commentary and speculation about the direction of the Mueller probe has shifted from collusion to obstruction of justice -- while major indictments against top Trump campaign figures have dealt with alleged crimes having nothing to do with conspiring with Russia to tip a presidential election (though Michael Flynn remains a wild card).  It's easy to lose the thread on the Kafkaesque Russia storyline, but it seems rather important to remain focused on whether or not the core, original accusation against Trump is actually true.  On that score, I'm reminded by this column by a Democratic communications guru published last month:

In a recent New Yorker piece about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the president, Jeffrey Toobin stated: "Trump’s position looks perilous. ... The portrait is of a president using every resource at his disposal to shut down an investigation — of Trump himself.” Among Democrats, this narrative has created a great deal of excitement, that Mueller will conclude that Trump’s firing of James Comey, the former FBI director, was criminal and an obstruction of justice. Perhaps, but Democrats should temper their enthusiasm. Unless the special prosecutor can prove Trump and his inner circle conspired with the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton, it is highly unlikely Republicans on Capitol Hill will sacrifice their president for trying to quash an investigation of a non-existent crime...

An obstruction of justice charge is difficult to prove because it requires the prosecutor to demonstrate the mindset of the accused. It is a subjective determination, and without strong evidence of Trump’s collusion with the Russian government, Republicans are almost assuredly going believe the commander-in-chief when he insists he did not intend to thwart justice by firing James Comey. After all, without proof of collusion, the president has a strong argument: How can he obstruct justice by blocking the investigation of a crime that he never committed?

My stance on Mueller has been unambiguously clear and stablethroughout the duration of his investigation: He should be allowed to complete his work without interference. But I also believe that in addition to unearthing the extent of Russia's malfeasance, his co-primary charge should be to determine whether Team Trump (or any American political actors) had anything to do with it. Those are the pillars of the probe. If such evidence does not exist, chasing down other possible criminality will understandably be seen by many as politicized, 'justify-your-existence' mission creep.  
Relatedly, in my mind, a big part of discerning whether Trump and the Putin regime were in cahoots involves examining whether Trump's administration has held up its end of the supposed bargain.  In light of the president's decision to stand with the Western world against brazen Russian aggressions by expelling dozens of diplomats and shutting down a consulate -- in response to which Moscow is vowing to retaliate -- it's becoming harder to maintain the claim that Putin is getting any sort of special policy treatment from the Trump White House.  This reality is so glaring that even a New York Times correspondent, of all people, recently made this very point on CNN, of all places:

New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger said on Tuesday that it was hard to argue President Donald Trump hasn't been tough on Russian President Vladimir Putin after his recent expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats..."When have we ever done more in terms of sanctions or who we got rid of?" Cuomo asked. "I mean, Obama administration got rid of people but nowhere near this many, and it was only focused in the U.S. When have we ever done more than this?" "In terms of expulsion of diplomats, I’m not sure, Chris, we ever have," Sanger said. "It is getting harder to make the argument that the president has not gotten tough with Putin. This is certainly a tougher move for example than President Obama took when he expelled 30-some odd diplomats after the election issues." Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon mentioned that Trump's expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats was even three times the number expelled by the U.K., the site of the nerve agent attack. "This is big, and it deserves credit," Avlon said.

Meanwhile, here is Trump's UN ambassador lighting up the Russiansyet again over various affronts, including the London poisoning incident.  So when the RNC puts out research memos touting this administration's hawkish actions against Russia, it's not just spin -- some presidential equivocations notwithstanding. From lethal aide to Ukraine, to sanctions, to diplomatic expulsions, the US has taken a pretty hard line against Moscow over the last 14-plus months.  And the president's new top foreign policy brain trust of Mattis, Pompeo and Bolton can hardly be accused of being Russia doves.  If there was a quid pro quo here, where's the quo?  

None of this is playing out in isolation, either.   These facts must be juxtaposed with Obama's weakness and appeasement as a relevant point of comparison.  We're learning more and more about the extent of Team 'Smart Power' evident willingness to excuse and provide cover for Russia's treachery over recent years.


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