This is where manipulating media issues -- vis a vis Trump -- and advertising gets interesting.
In response to an earlier report, Sinclair Broadcast Group says it did not grant President-elect Donald Trump interviews “without commentary” -- or alter the “tone” of that content. You know, positive-speaking way.
Who made this claim about a Trump deal with Sinclair? None other than Jared Kushner, son-in-law of the President-elect and publisher/owner of the New York Observer. He's someone in the media industry who, in theory, should know about journalistic integrity.
Kushner bragged at an off-the-record meeting -- in the Morgan Stanley Cafeteria for the Partnership for New York City -- that in exchange for more access to Trump, Sinclair TV stations gave the campaign better “tone,” which included running Trump interviews/rallies with no commentary or analysis.
What about inaccuracies or complete fabrications, let alone critical analysis of say a 15% tax plan, or the expense of building a border wall? Nope.
Earlier this week, Scott Livingston, vice president of news for Sinclair, stated: “We offered both major presidential candidates the same opportunities to be interviewed by our local anchors on a regular basis. There was no ‘deal’ on the tone, tenor or subject of the interviews. We did not offer favorable or preferential treatment to either candidate.”
For Kushner to insist the campaign got better treatment for Trump -- for better access -- isn’t logical. Trump's wide availability to the press during the election cycle -- either through off-the-cuff interviews, rallies or other events -- set new heights. So... why would Sinclair need any special access? No one did.
In fact, Trump's earned media levels, versus his rivals, was off the charts.
Trump himself even noted this, especially when it came to how little he was spending on political advertising. With Trump-laden headline news running virtually every evening for months at a time, The Donald said he didn’t need to do much advertising.
Journalists worth their salt shouldn’t worry about this; but TV news advertising sales executive do.
The fact is Trump spent way less on local TV stations than TV groups expected -- including Sinclair. Back in September, Sinclair warned its third-quarter media revenue would miss its targets, due to low political advertising spending including from the Trump campaign.
Is a presidential candidate’s content now for sale?
Alarm bells would be ringing. A Trump spokesman insisted no money was exchanged between Sinclair and the campaign. Better not have. TV news stations executives would be immediately held accountable for their actions.
Comments by Kushner about deal-making speak to how little regard he and his father-in-law have for the media and a free press. Maybe the TV businessman/“Celebrity Apprentice” executive producer Trump believes a new business model should extend to journalism.
If you are a local TV news director, it’s time to get back to business: Press harder for serious breaking news stories. Your viewers and advertisers will appreciate it.