Sinclair Broadcast Group really doesn't want its employees talking to the press about the Trumpian "fake news" script it has recently been forcing local news anchors to recite.
This was made clear by a memo warning staff at the Sinclair-owned station KATU in Portland, Oregon that "giving statements to the media or sharing negative information about the company can have huge implications."
First obtained by FTV Live and published on Tuesday, the memo was sent amid outrage over the right-wing media giant's efforts to force local anchors to read propaganda railing against "false" and "fake" media—outrage that grew exponentially after Deadspin published a compilation of anchors reading Sinclair's script in unison.
Read the full memo below:
As Deadspin's video of anchors reading Sinclair's script went viral, some local anchors began anonymously and openly criticizing the company's attempts to exert ideological control over smaller stations that many American households rely on for daily news.
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"The new scripted 'fake news' segment caused a lot of anguish where I work," one Sinclair journalist told the Huffington Post, which published a report on Tuesday detailing how the company strictly monitors its employees' "editorial activities."
"Sinclair's employee handbook...states that the company 'may monitor, intercept, and review, without further notice, every employee's activities using company's electronic resources and communications systems,'" the Huffington Post reported. "The handbook goes on to state, 'To be very clear: you should not have any expectation of personal privacy in any communication using Company owned equipment.'"
Another employee anonymously told HuffPo that "everything Sinclair gives us or forces upon us is met with uproar, but we have no choice."
This is largely because the costs of quitting Sinclair can be extremely "steep," as Bloomberg has reported.
After reviewing two employment contracts, Bloomberg found that "some Sinclair employees were subject to a liquidated damages clause for leaving before the term of their agreement was up: one that requires they pay as much as 40 percent of their annual compensation to the company."