(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump derided several U.S. news outlets as "fakers" afraid of increased competition from Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., after the broadcaster seeking federal approval to buy Tribune Media Co. drew criticism for having anchors read scripted statements about “false news” by other media.
“The Fake News Networks, those that knowingly have a sick and biased AGENDA, are worried about the competition and quality of Sinclair Broadcast," Trump said in a Twitter posting Tuesday. "The ‘Fakers’ at CNN, NBC, ABC & CBS have done so much dishonest reporting that they should only be allowed to get awards for fiction!”
Trump’s shot at several major U.S. media outlets comes after CNN showed part of a video montage posted over the weekend by the Deadspin website showing dozens of Sinclair news readers warning about false news and saying “this is extremely dangerous to our democracy.” Media critics and some Sinclair employees have faulted the use of news personalities to parrot Trump’s criticism of the news media.
“So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased,” Trump said in a tweet yesterday. “Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”
Sinclair owns or operates 193 TV stations, and the Tribune deal would give it a presence in major markets including New York and Chicago. The company, which is known for its conservative leanings, would reach most American households.
Under Trump, the Justice Department is seeking to block AT&T Inc.’s proposed $85 billion takeover of CNN owner Time Warner Inc. A trial is underway in federal court in Washington.
Longstanding restrictions on media ownership have been relaxed by Republicans at the Federal Communications Commission since Trump took office last year, and Democrats say the moves were designed to help Sinclair and that regulation is needed to preserve a diverse media landscape. Republicans say change was overdue for the outmoded restrictions.
Sinclair’s $3.9 billion deal for Tribune, announced in May, is before the FCC and the Justice Department, where Trump appointees are leading reviews.
“The promos served no political agenda, and represented nothing more than an effort to differentiate our award-winning news programming from other, less reliable sources of information,” Sinclair said in an e-mailed statement.
“We aren’t sure of the motivation for the criticism, but find it curious that we would be attacked for asking our news people to remind their audiences that unsubstantiated stories exist on social media, which result in an ill-informed public with potentially dangerous consequences,” said Scott Livingston, Sinclair’s senior vice president of news.
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