Democratic candidate for Maryland governor vows to avoid advertising on Sinclair stations

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

The national controversy embroiling Sinclair Broadcast Group seeped into the Maryland race for governor Tuesday as a Democratic candidate suggested politicians boycott the company’s four stations broadcasting in the state.

Democrat Krish Vignarajah on Tuesday vowed to not air any political ads on stations owned by Hunt Valley-based Sinclair until the television giant stops requiring anchors to recite statements admonishing other news organizations for sharing fake news.

Vignarajah called on all of her rivals and others to join her boycott of Sinclair affiliates. The company faced a backlash this week for requiring newscasters at its 193 stations across the country read a script saying they are concerned about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.”

A video of Sinclair anchors delivering that message in unison went viral over the weekend, prompting accusations that the company, whose owner supports conservative causes, was trying to bolster Republican President Donald J. Trump’s attacks on the mainstream media. Sinclair executives defended the promotions as emphasizing the organization’s “commitment to the facts.”

Trump tweeted twice this weekend in defense of the company, further stoking controversy across the country.

Already, one other candidate has pulled political existing advertising from Sinclair.

On Monday, a Democratic congressional candidate in Kentucky, Amy McGrath, removed a week’s worth of campaign ads from a Sinclair-owned station in Lexington. In a statement posted to Twitter, McGrath cited the viral video created by Deadspin and said it “eerily mimics the propaganda efforts that authoritarian regimes often use to control the media.”

In Maryland, Vignarajah became the first in a seven-way Democratic primary to vow never to air political ads on Sinclair’s four television stations in Maryland — WJLA ABC 7, WBFF FOX 45 Baltimore, WNUV the CW Baltimore and WUTB MyTV Baltimore.

“I promise not to advertise on any of Sinclair’s local affiliates, unless the company stops using local airwaves as propaganda machines or local affiliates refuse to be complicit in Sinclair’s political agenda,” Vignarajah said in a statement. “We are calling upon all candidates — Democrats, Republicans, independents, Greens — here in Maryland and across the country to join us in refusing to run political ads on local Sinclair affiliates until the right-wing propaganda ends.”

Sinclair representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

So far, no Democratic candidates running in the June 26 primary election for governor have aired political ads on television. Of the seven candidates who have raised over $400,000 — enough money to potentially purchase air time — Vignarajah had the second least on hand.

ecox@baltsun.com

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