Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A sign for the Sinclair Broadcast Group building is seen in a buisness district in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner of the largest chain of television stations in the nation, hopes to buy Tribune Media's 42 stations for $3.9 billion. (Photo: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Raising Ethics Concerns, Sinclair Solicits Contributions From Employees for Right-Wing PAC

"I've never seen anything like this," said one critic. "They certainly have the right to do it, but it's blatantly unethical."

Jessica Corbett

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."

Several journalists turned to Twitter to denounce the company's decision:

Sinclair's letter to its news directors praises Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, a Trump-appointee who has come under fire for his ties to the company and his advocacy for an agenda that consumer advocates and free press groups have criticized as a "virtual death sentence for local media" so Pai can give "massive handout[s] to his friends and political allies at Sinclair." 

The letter states, "Since the change in administration last year, we now have an FCC Chairman who appreciates the important role of local broadcasting enough to launch a number of politically unpopular deregulatory initiatives necessary to ensure the future of our industry," decrying congressional attempts to counter the agency's moves to deregulate the news media industry. 

"We anticipate other efforts to undermine the FCC's deregulatory agenda," the letter continues. "Corporate contributions to federal candidates are prohibited by law, but our PAC is a legally acceptable way for eligible Sinclair employeees to make our collective voice heard.... The maximum contribution from each employee in any year is $5,000."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Hold My Pearls': Debbie Dingell Lets Marjorie Taylor Green Have It Over Abortion Rights

The Michigan Democrat engaged in a verbal altercation with the far-right Republican lawmaker from Georgia on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Jon Queally ·


Dems Who Opposed Pentagon Cuts Received Nearly 4x More Donations From Weapons Makers

The latest passage of the NDAA "is particularly strong evidence that Pentagon contractors' interests easily take precedence over national security and the public interest for too many members of Congress," said one critic.

Kenny Stancil ·


Cisneros Slams Cuellar for Being Only House Democrat to Vote Against Abortion Rights

"Once again Henry Cuellar refused to stand up for South Texans' reproductive freedom."

Jake Johnson ·


Covid-19 Cases, Deaths Rising Among Children Across US

"Is there an acceptable pediatric body count?" asked a top pediatrician in New Orleans this week. "I think not."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo