Raising Ethics Concerns, Sinclair Solicits Contributions From Employees for Right-Wing PAC
Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the nation’s largest television company with 173 stations nationwide, is raising concerns among ethics experts and journalists for its decision to solicit contributions for its political action committee from some of the company’s employees.
In a Jan. 31 letter to newsroom directors from David Amy, the broadcaster’s vice chairman and head of the Sinclair Political Action Committee, the company—known for its right-wing slant and fighting federal regulations to acquire 42 more stations from Tribune Media—urged its employees to “please take the time to evaluate the importance that the Sinclair PAC can have towards benefitting our company and the needs of the industry as a whole.”
While a screenshot of the letter was posted to a television blog earlier this month, one of Sinclair’s senior vice presidents confirmed its veracity to the Washington Post on Saturday, emphasizing that it was sent to news directors—”as a result of being part of our managerial level, not because of their role in editorial”—but not to reporters, anchors, or other lower-level employees.
Lewis Friedland, a journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin and a former TV news producer, told the Post that Sinclair’s move “violates every standard of conduct that has existed in newsroom for the past 40 or 50 years.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Friedland added. “They certainly have the right to do it, but it’s blatantly unethical.”
“In addition to breaking with journalistic tradition, the company’s request could put its news directors in an untenable position,” the Post notes. “Some news directors might feel that opting out would be perceived by their superiors as an act of disloyalty.”
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