BREAKING NEWS 7 people dead in overnight shooting in Morgan County Full Story
BREAKING NEWS WATCH LIVE: President Trump discusses May job numbers Full Story

Trump slams his own administration's actions on Sinclair-Tribune deal

Another government official appointed by President Donald Trump now finds himself in the all-too familiar position of...

Posted: Jul 25, 2018 6:45 PM
Updated: Jul 25, 2018 6:45 PM

Another government official appointed by President Donald Trump now finds himself in the all-too familiar position of having to defend his actions against his boss.

The Federal Communications Commission, the agency tasked with regulating everything from broadcast television stations to the internet, was the source of Trump's ire Tuesday night when he tweeted his dismay over the agency stymieing Sinclair Broadcasting Group's attempt to acquire Tribune Media.

"So sad and unfair that the FCC wouldn't approve the Sinclair Broadcast merger with Tribune," Trump tweeted on Tuesday. "This would have been a great and much needed Conservative voice for and of the People. Liberal Fake News NBC and Comcast gets approved, much bigger, but not Sinclair. Disgraceful!"

Trump's tweet puts FCC chair Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by Trump, in the awkward position of having to defend the commission and assert its position as an independent regulatory agency that is not directly accountable to the president or other elected officials. Democrat commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel replied to Trump's tweet on Tuesday with one word: "Disagree."

At a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on Wednesday afternoon, Pai would not directly say whether he agreed or disagreed with Trump's tweet when pressed by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). Pai would only say "I stand by our decision" to send the transaction to a hearing last week after expressing concerns about Sinclair's bid for Tribune Media.

Related: Rupert Murdoch's summer of good fortune

Inside Sinclair, there were bewildered reactions to the president's defense of the company.

"Trump's tweet actually hurts us -- because of the conservative line," one staffer said.

Other Sinclair journalists seconded this point, saying colleagues were unhappy with Trump's portrayal of the company as "conservative." While stations have been forced to air pro-Trump commentaries and stories, most journalists at local stations want to be recognized for their straight-forward, nonpartisan work. They don't want to be labeled by the president or anyone else.

Sinclair is the largest owner of local television stations across the United States and is trying to get even bigger through the $3.9 billion Tribune deal. It's also well known as a conservative-leaning media organization that forces its stations to run opinion segments supportive of the president and conservative causes.

Last week, Pai and his fellow commissioners referred the proposed Sinclair deal to an administrative law judge hearing after the commission said it had "serious concerns" about the transaction.

"The evidence we've received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law," Pai said in a statement.

The hearings can be a lengthy process, one that could potentially kill the deal.

Pai and the commission's decision shocked many in the media world, since Pai had recently loosened TV station ownership rules that helped Sinclair close its deal with Tribune Media. That prompted the FCC internal watchdog to launch an investigation into whether the commission had improperly pushed for the rule change to benefit Sinclair. On Wednesday, a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a challenge to the decision by public interest groups, saying they had no standing.

For months now, the lawyers and regulators working in the Trump administration have denied accusations that politics have influenced any actions relating to media ownership.

There was the Justice Department lawsuit to stop AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner (CNN's parent company), something Trump promised to do on the campaign trail. Though Trump said as a candidate he wanted to stop the deal because it would give one company too much power, his well-known animosity toward CNN led many to speculate that politics were behind his desire to block the deal -- though his name was never brought up during the trial.

The Justice Department lost its lawsuit in June, but it is now appealing the judge's decision to approve the merger.

Of course there is one Trump confidant who could benefit from Sinclair losing the Tribune deal: Fox News chief Rupert Murdoch.

Sinclair has been viewed as a possible rival to Fox News as the former builds up a huge national footprint and snaps up talent like former Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn and former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. According to Politico, Sinclair has even approached current and former Fox talent like Jeanine Pirro and Eric Bolling. Last month, BuzzFeed reported Sinclair was preparing to launch a free streaming app called STIRR, a 24/7 TV channel featuring local news and national programming.

Losing the Tribune deal would be a major blow to their expansion plans.

-- CNN's Brian Stelter contributed reporting.

Huntsville
Overcast
75° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 75°
Florence
Scattered Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 87°
Fayetteville
Overcast
75° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 78°
Scottsboro
Overcast
75° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 75°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18766

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2321118
Jefferson1901104
Montgomery185843
Tuscaloosa83616
Marshall7089
Franklin5858
Lee56234
Shelby52819
Tallapoosa43466
Butler42118
Walker3862
Elmore3749
Chambers36026
Madison3534
Unassigned3062
Morgan3021
Baldwin2939
Dallas2923
Lowndes26512
Etowah26312
DeKalb2573
Autauga2415
Coffee2391
Sumter2287
Houston2265
Bullock2176
Pike2120
Colbert1902
Hale1859
Russell1810
Barbour1771
Marengo1756
Lauderdale1722
Calhoun1673
Wilcox1577
Choctaw15310
Cullman1521
Clarke1492
St. Clair1351
Randolph1287
Dale1240
Marion12411
Pickens1205
Talladega1195
Limestone1080
Chilton1071
Greene954
Macon934
Winston910
Jackson833
Covington821
Henry822
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia753
Washington736
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe462
Geneva440
Perry430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 25190

Reported Deaths: 401
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby5546124
Davidson551666
Trousdale13944
Rutherford134328
Hamilton96419
Sumner93846
Lake8350
Bledsoe6101
Williamson58911
Putnam5246
Robertson5235
Tipton4613
Wilson4498
Knox4355
Out of TN4264
Bedford2974
Montgomery2863
Rhea2170
Hardeman2020
Madison1732
Bradley1661
Macon1663
Loudon1610
Unassigned1610
McMinn14614
Fayette1362
Cheatham1350
Dickson1200
Cumberland1202
Maury1071
Sevier972
Blount933
Coffee780
Washington750
Monroe713
Wayne640
Gibson631
Sullivan602
Lauderdale591
Hickman580
Dyer570
Franklin541
Greene522
Unicoi480
Obion453
Marion441
Hamblen422
Anderson422
DeKalb380
Smith361
Hawkins342
Marshall331
Lawrence330
Haywood332
White330
Cannon320
Overton320
Henry320
Grundy311
Lincoln290
Jefferson290
Carroll281
Meigs270
Warren260
Weakley260
Perry240
Hardin222
Cocke210
Sequatchie200
Johnson190
Polk190
Jackson190
Carter191
Campbell181
Morgan170
Crockett162
Roane160
Henderson150
Humphreys151
McNairy150
Grainger130
Giles130
Stewart130
Claiborne120
Scott120
Fentress120
Chester120
Clay80
Houston80
Benton71
Moore50
Decatur50
Van Buren40
Union40
Lewis30
Pickett30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events