SAG-AFTRA came to the defense of the journalists working for Sinclair Broadcast Group on Wednesday while criticizing the company over accusations that it has been spreading “fake news.”
“The journalists who work for Sinclair Broadcast Group are hard-working and dedicated professionals who care deeply about the work that they do. Over the last couple of days, many of them have been the subject of misdirected criticism for the script Sinclair required them to read for its recent promotional campaign,” the labor union said in a statement.
“SAG-AFTRA has been in contact with Sinclair to express our concerns with this campaign, and we stand with our members and journalists everywhere in challenging corporate directives that call into question the journalistic integrity of the news presented to the public,” it said. “SAG-AFTRA opposes such directives in the interest of defending the professionalism of journalists and preserving the basic rights of a free and independent press.”
The statement comes after Sinclair Broadcast Group was accused of having local newscasters from their stations read out “fake news” and parroting far-right anti-media talking points on air.
Since journalists at Sinclair came under scrutiny for not challenging the reports they read on air, details of the consequences that would befall them if they refuse have come to light.
Los Angeles Times journalist Matt Pearce tweeted screenshots of a conversation with a Sinclair journalist showing that if they quit they were forced to pay “something along the lines of your base pay times 40 percent and then times what percentage of your contract is left,” the tweet read.