The far-right company Sinclair Broadcast Group allegedly forces stations that it owns to air reports from its “Terrorism Update Desk” even when there is no terrorism-related news to report.
The Providence Journal looked into local Sinclair station WJAR after readers complained about politics being increasingly infused into newscasts.
The Journal found that WJAR is following the same Sinclair mandates that HBO’s John Oliver reported earlier this year. Sinclar requires stations to air conservative segments, including editorials from former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn.
But in addition to Epshteyn, the paper said that WJAR has been airing a segment titled “Terrorism Update Desk.”
On a typical weekday, Channel 10 broadcasts about six hours of news programming, including commercials. Sinclair says 2.5 percent, or about 10 minutes, of that time is occupied by the conservative-oriented pieces.
The Terrorism Alert Desk’s updates, even in the absence of any real terrorism-related events, is scary for some, said Moni Chea, a 32-year-old Providence woman who works in a nursing clinic. Chea’s 85-year-old grandmother fled conflict in Cambodia and now lives in Portland, Maine, where Sinclair owns a local station.
“It’s very captivating. She hears the music and it sounds very important. I try to tell her it’s just an update about national security, but she worries,” said Chea. “She fled a war. For her, terrorism — that’s her biggest fear.”
Read the entire report from The Providence Journal
Watch John Oliver’s report below.