Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV

Zurawik: Sinclair looks to be distancing itself from Epshteyn's claims of border 'invasion.' Really?

Sinclair took to Twitter Wednesday to try and put some distance between itself and the words of its chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn about what happened on the border near San Diego Sunday between migrants and border enforcement agents.

In one of his must-carry “Bottom Line with Boris” segments, Epshteyn, a former communications aide to President Doinald Trump, echoed the words of his former boss in calling the caravan of migrants an “invasion” and insisting that the use of tear gas on them Sunday afternoon was necessary.

“The migrant crisis on our southern border has greatly escalated,” Epshteyn began in his commentary this week.

“This past weekend, the United States was forced to temporarily close a major point of entry in San Diego, California, in response to hundreds of migrants attempting to storm the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes of claiming asylum. Dozens of migrants attacked U.S. border enforcement by throwing rocks and bottles. Ultimately, American authorities had to use tear gas to stop the attacks,” he continued.

“Some on the left, such as Democrat Congresswoman Maxine Waters, were immediately up in arms about our president and his team standing up for our men and women in uniform and for our national security. The fact of the matter is that this is an attempted invasion of our country. Period.”

Only a propagandist for Trump like Epshteyn would say it’s a fact that this is an invasion and add the one-word sentence, “period,” to suggest there is nothing further to discuss.

Here’s the full video if you care to see what propaganda looks and sounds like.

I have been writing about Sinclair and its Trump-worshiping chief political analyst the last two years until it feels like my fingers are going to fall off. I am so glad to see Sinclair and Epshteyn being critiqued by others for this commentary to the point where the beleaguered Hunt Valley-based company felt the need to take to Twitter Wednesday to try and move away from Epshteyn’s words.

Here are posts from Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog platform, and the New York Times and Daily Beast.

Even though Sinclair made Epshteyn its chief political analyst and forced all the stations it owns that produce news to carry his segments, Sinclair’s first tweet says his words in this commentary do not “reflect the views of Sinclair Broadcast Group.”

Really?

The second tweet offers even less clarity with the sentence that says, “We also offer our stations reporting from the Beltway and beyond that are not partisan or bias in any way.”

OK, then, whatever that means.

On CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday, I brought up border coverage as an example of the two news realities viewers are faced with depending on which channel they watched. I focused on channels like Fox News using the fear-mongering and extreme unsubstantiated language of Trump.

But in his commentary this week, Epshteyn went beyond even Fox News in embracing and spreading Trump’s propaganda about the migrants.

Like a true propagandist, furthermore, he told his audience what he was saying was incontrovertible fact.

In the discussion on “Reliable Sources,” I tried to lay out the difference between news platforms that give citizens fact-based information that they can use to make decisions about their lives versus platforms like Fox that operate as media tools to promote a political ideology or politician.

You tell me which category stations belong to that carry and showcase someone like Epshteyn.

Wednesday night the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) issued a statement also using the term “propaganda” to describe Epshteyn’s commentary. It further characterized the segment as “fueling misplaced hostility toward refugees seeking asylum.”

The statement said Hugo Balta, president of the group, was considering “limiting event access and partnership affiliation with Sinclair Broadcasting Group” as a result.

Robert Ford. of the public relations firm 5WPR, responded Thursday to my request for comment from Sinclair, identifying himself as spokesman for the company.

“Bottom Line with Boris segments are commentaries which present facts and offer Boris’ views on a range of current events,” he wrote in an email.

“These segments are clearly labeled as his commentary and provide our viewers with the opportunity to form their own opinions as to whether they agree or disagree with Boris’s perspective,” he continued.

“The segment on the migrant crisis at the southern border has been drastically and intentionally mischaracterized by those set on criticizing Boris Epshteyn’s commentary segments. We urge critics to review the actual segment, not the biased coverage of it,” his emailed statement concluded.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/davidzurawik

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