WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump lauded Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. as “far superior” to CNN or NBC Monday after the broadcaster that’s seeking federal approval to buy Tribune Media Co. drew criticism for having its on-air personalities read scripted statements about “false news” by other media outlets.
CNN showed part of a video montage posted over the weekend by the Deadspin website that showed 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.
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 U.S. households.
“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. “Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”
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. Republicans say change was overdue for the outmoded restrictions. Democrats say the rules are needed to preserve a diverse media landscape.
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.