A recent New York Times story could be summed up in a single common-sense statement: People who dislike regulation support deregulation.
But instead, The Times devoted 3,300 words to portraying deregulation as a special deal between a single company and the FCC. Because that company is Sinclair, which is a media company with “conservative” leanings.
Three Times reporters collaborated on the Aug. 14 front page story, “How a Conservative TV Giant Is Ridding Itself of Regulation.” The lengthy article painted Sinclair Broadcasting Group as cutting a special deal for itself with the Federal Communications Commission. Specifically between Sinclair chairman David Smith and FCC chairman Ajit Pai.
Sinclair is the largest holder of local TV stations, owning or operating more than 170 television stations. It sought to acquire 42 more by purchasing Tribune Media in May. The purchase is contingent on FCC approval. Sinclair often requires its stations to air short clips that report news from a conservative perspective. Those clips make up a tiny part of each week’s programming.
“Since becoming chairman in January, Mr. Pai has undertaken a deregulatory blitz, enacting or proposing a wish list of fundamental policy changes advocated by Mr. Smith and his company,” The Times wrote.
Eleven paragraphs later however, the authors conceded “it is a case of a powerful regulator and an industry giant sharing a political ideology, and suddenly, with the election of Mr. Trump, having free rein to pursue it.”
“Other broadcast companies, as well as the National Association of Broadcasters, have pushed for some of the same changes that have benefited Sinclair,” The Times confessed.
In other words, Pai was not working out a special deal just for Sinclair. The whole Times report was a non-story. But it still continued for another 2,740 words. And remember, it was on the front page. That might have something to do with The Times’ own massive tilt to the left more than Sinclair’s leanings.
The Times even appealed to Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), who said “I worry that our democracy is at stake because democracy depends on a diversity of voices and competition of news outlets.”
Both Pallone and The Times seem to have ignored that Sinclair is the one bringing diversity of thought to a predominantly liberal media.
The Times is just one of many media outlets and journalists that have reacted reacted negatively to the merger.