Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Justin Simmons, a journalist who worked for the Sinclair-owned KHGI-TV in Nebrasksa, resigned over efforts by the parent company to force anchors to read pre-packaged scripts he viewed as dishonest. (Photo: Courtesy of CNN)

'Least I Could Do': As Sinclair Clamors for Merger, TV Producer Resigns Over Forced Scripts

"The Sinclair/Tribune merger isn't dinner—it's the appetizer."

Jon QueallyAndrea Germanos

As Sinclair continues to face criticism after a viral video showing local news anchors reciting scripts pre-packaged by the right-wing broadcasting behemoth, one TV producer announced Wednesday that the forced propaganda drove him to resign in protest.

"I didn't go into news to give people biased information," said Justin Simmons of Sinclair-owned KHGI-TV in Nebrasksa.

While the forced scripts put a spotlight in recent days on the power wielded by the right-wing media giant—and its proposed merger with Tribune Media—he told CNNMoney, "I've always kind of been on edge about Sinclair." Simmons, who tendered his resignation on March 26, cited increasingly frequent "must-run" segments such as the "Terrorism Alert Desk."

It was the promo highlighted in the viral video—which Simmons said was "almost forcing local anchors to lie to their viewers"—that served as the last straw.

"Resigning seemed like the least I could do," he added. "I wish there was more."

While other local broadcasters have also spoken out in the wake of the viral video by Deadspin, news of Simmons' resignation comes amid renewed focus this week on the Sinclair-Tribune merger and the right-leaning coverage pushed by Sinclair executives, including CEO David Smith.

"There isn't a viral video long enough to demonstrate the type of power Sinclair would have to push its partisan political agenda into all of our homes if the company is successful in gobbling up so many stations that only two owners remain."
—Karl Frisch, Allied Progress
According to Karl Frisch, executive director of the liberal watchdog group Allied Progress, Sinclair is dangerous not just because of its political agenda, but because of Smith's stated desire for nearly total market domination by powerful broadcasters like his.

In a 2004 interview with an broadcast industry news outlet, Smith stated that if  he "was going to wish for anything and I could snap my fingers and make it happen […] it would be for an instantaneous final consolidation of the industry." Smith went on to say that such a consolidation—a nightmare scenario for progressives who see the corporate control of the media system as a direct assault on the role of journalism in a democracy—was "absolutely doable" in the future.

"The Sinclair/Tribune merger isn't dinner—it's the appetizer," warned Frisch. "Smith won't be content until his singular wish of the local news industry's 'final consolidation' is complete. That's a frightening prospect."

He concluded, "There isn't a viral video long enough to demonstrate the type of power Sinclair would have to push its partisan political agenda into all of our homes if the company is successful in gobbling up so many stations that only two owners remain."

In an essay published at the Huffington Post on Wednesday, a separate Sinclair producer—who requested anonymity over fears of retribution—told people: "If you want to make a difference, lobby your lawmakers to have them stop the Tribune deal from going through, because that is what is dangerous about this. It's dangerous for any company to own as many stations as Sinclair does."


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.

'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·


Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·


New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·


West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

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