The parent company of WJAR TV (Channel 10) in Providence, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, reportedly made a deal with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign that resulted in greater access to the candidate in exchange to broadcast the interviews without commentary.
This is not unusual for the broadcasting group, which is described as conservative and which was apparently involved in similar arrangements in the past, according to a 2014 Washington Post article.
Meanwhile, Sinclair’s mission statement seems to contradict its actions: “We produce compelling, engaging, informative newscasts. Our stations hold public officials accountable, asking the tough questions that our viewers would ask.”
In the case of the Trump interviews, it appears the Broadcasting group chose instead not to ask the tough questions.
The revelations about the Trump-Sinclair arrangement were disclosed by the president-elect’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in what was supposed to be an “off the record” conversations in the Morgan Stanley Cafeteria for the Partnership of New York City, a business group, according to Politico and other media outlets.
A Sinclair vice president, Scott Livingston, was quoted as saying the broadcasting group made the same offer to both candidates, with Trump making a “handful” of interviews, and Democratic vice presidential candidate, Tim Kane, making a few as well. Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, reportedly did not participate.
Livingston was also quoted the group’s position to allow the candidate’s remarks without “hearing all the spin and all the rhetoric.”
WJAR became a Sinclair affiliate in August 2014, after its then parent, Media General (which had merged with LIN TV) had to decide whether to sell WJAR or WPRI, as required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The sale returned Sinclair to the Providence market it had owned WLWC from January 2012 to April 2013.