Intent to Intimidate – Why the World is Watching

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By writing this blog, I could be self-attaching a target on my back. Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press are under siege in America. Make no mistake. It is “fake news” if you believe otherwise. Paranoia, or déjà vu? Felt it during the Nixon regime. War of words with the press. And how much of a leap would Nixon’s old school “Enemies List” be from the Department of Homeland Security high-tech bid for a “Media Monitoring Services” to compile a database of hundreds of thousands of journalists, bloggers and “media influencers” for the federal government?

According to an article in Bloomberg Law, DHS is “seeking a contractor that can help it monitor traditional news sources as well as social media and identify ‘any and all’ coverage related to the agency or a particular event…” Very open-ended “or a particular event,” wouldn’t you say?

Yes. A Department of Homeland Security spokesman has since commented “this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media” — but for what purpose?

If it is just a listing, what is the significance of requiring “contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.” There it is again, “overview of the previous coverage,” another open-ended category.

And chillingly, there is no restriction that the database of hundreds of thousands of journalists, bloggers and “media influencers” must be Americans only.

Watchdog organization Freedom House said in its Press Freedom Report – 2017 that global media freedom had dropped to its lowest level in 13 years.

Every day, journalists face serious consequences including physical violence, imprisonment and death. A few days ago, the Committee to Protect Journalists launched its annual Free The Press campaign to raise awareness about imprisoned journalists throughout the world. On May 3, UNESCO will once again mark World Press Freedom Day “to inform citizens of violations of press freedom — a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.”  —Forbes.com

Intent to intimidate.

One more consideration, if Facebook, with its well-paid top tech geniuses, could not protect all the data they collected on users, how can we be confident that this mass database of info being authorized by the government to the lowest bidder, would be any more secure?

Let’s say this low bid “Media Monitoring Services,” agency exists. And for sake of argument, we call it, oh say… Big Brother. And, it scoops up this blog. And, you consider a response to my comments.

You could write in your blog or FB post or tweet, “Anthony, you are one strap short on a straitjacket.” Or you could write, “Anthony, there is merit in your postulation.” Either way, Big Brother would note not only that you commented, but also the intention of your comment.

What if you say nothing, because it is safer?

Intention to Intimidate.

You just gave up your Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press rights because you were afraid to express yourself as an American. Some might hear echoes of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. They laughed as well. Until it was too late.

{Call to Action: Contact your elected representatives in the House & Senate. Tell them you find this DHS action anti-American. Or, tell them you see nothing wrong. What??? That is how Freedom of Speech works. Everybody gets a say.}

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Sinclair Broadcasting Sues Employee Even After He Leaves Job

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Voices from within the hostage camps of Sinclair Broadcasting are beginning to surface in print, broadcast and social media. I pulled this cautionary tale from the Orlando Weekly of this week. A former employee was in effect SUED FOR QUITTING. Let that roll around in your head.

It is called a “liquidated clause” for leaving the team before the term of an agreement is set to end. Could be up to 40% of annual pay. Remember, these reporters and anchors are working small to medium markets. They are getting what you and I earn, not the million-dollar network contracts. That should answer the question as to why some or many of the Sinclair news staff read the offensive manifesto that became part of a viral video, instead of saying “hell no” recently.

Jonathan Beaton is a former Sinclair employee who is the subject of the Orlando Weekly story. Fascinating stranglehold Sinclair has not only while you work for them but after. Yes, after he left to begin his own PR company (not work for a rival TV station), Sinclair sued him.

Read it for yourself.

“A set of parameters and we had to stick to them.” When far away corporate managers restrict your local news team, that is clearly infringing on the Freedom of the Press to fairly cover a community to its expectations.

What Is So Wrong About the Sinclair Broadcasting Script?

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“They co-opt the credibility that local anchors have built up in their communities over years and decades and use that credibility to promote a political agenda.” — Aaron Weiss, former Sinclair News Director

Covering the Sinclair Broadcasting story over the past two blogs,  (Has Big Brother Arrived at a TV Set in Your Home? and How Much Do I Hate Thee Sinclair Broadcasting? America Is Counting the Ways) I have interjected facts and opinions from my point of view because I feel this strikes to the core of Freedom of the Press. Take away the press, both conservative and liberal sides, and you remove the watchdogs of those who would govern by fear and dishonesty.

Today, let’s hear from Aaron Weiss who’s “been there, done that” for Sinclair, as well Tim Burke who put that frightening video collage together and what he has heard since from the “Sinclair hostages.”

https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/04/04/aaron-weiss-intv-sinclair-news-director-must-read-scripts-hostage-videos-sot-newday.cnn/video/playlists/sinclair-broadcast-group/

https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/04/04/aaron-weiss-intv-former-sinclair-news-director-not-heard-inside-respect-journalism-sot-newday.cnn

https://www.cnn.com/videos/cnnmoney/2018/04/03/deadspin-sinclair-broadcast-group-video-tim-burke-ebof.cnn/video/playlists/stories-worth-watching/

Having heard all this, I suggest you return to the Deadspin video. Focus beyond the words and look at the announcers, their voices, and their mannerisms. Feel sorry for them. They are being mentally abused and should be pitied.

One last thought. Be you conservative or liberal, money talks. Too bad someone just doesn’t make a better offer to Tribune’s owners and buy it out from under Sinclair. A non-media company. Sinclair will still operate the stations it has, but it would be derailed of its aggressive assault on Freedom of the Press.

Has Big Brother Arrived at a TV Set in Your Home?

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Expecting to enjoy a pleasant Easter Sunday meal with family later in the day, I was served a gut-wrenching, distasteful appetizer of things to come when I checked my Twitter account this morning and found the now well-publicized Sinclair promo story.

At the outset, let me say I am politically an independent. Been so since I first signed up to vote over 40 years ago. Would have voted for JFK. Did vote for Reagan. I vote the party that speaks to the needs of the nation as I see it. OK?

So, I don’t give a damn if Sinclair is ultra-right or ultra-left. My concern is the humiliation and bastardization of local news by these barbarians at the gate of journalism.

Local stations should be free to cover and broadcast news and issues by and for the local community.

Right thinking will be rewarded, wrong thinking punished – George Orwell
Resistance is futile – The Borg
Corporate infringement on local journalism – apparent Sinclair manifesto 

James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, wrote: “A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both.” He felt a free press was an essential part of a democratic society— that it enabled people to make informed choices.

Seems to have worked over the past 240 years.

Now Sinclair wants to create a Hive Mind.  Resistance is futile.

Or is it?

TV stations operate pursuant to broadcasting licenses granted by the FCC. This means individual stations are subject to renewal process with the FCC. When renewal applications (FCC Form 303-S) are pending, petitions to deny license renewals can be filed by interested parties in the community.

These renewal applications are due on a staggered basis, depending upon the state in which the station is licensed.  Before the FCC can renew a station’s license, it must first determine whether the licensee has served the public interest during the preceding license term.

This is how Sinclair was described last year during its move to gobble up Tribune Media (from Docket Number: MB Docket 17-179, FCC)

Pursuant to a merger agreement, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Sinclair) and Tribune Media Company (Tribute) have filed applications seeking Commission consent to transfer control of Tribune’s full-power broadcast televisions stations, low-power television stations, and TV translator stations to Sinclair.
According to the Applicants, Sinclair owns or operates 173 broadcast television stations, consisting of 528 channels, in 81 markets, with affiliations with all major networks, and is the largest local news provider in the country; Tribune owns or operates 42 broadcast television stations in 33 markets, also with affiliations with all major networks. Tribune also owns cable network WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV and WGN-Radio.
According to the Applicants, Tribune’s owns and operates broadcast television stations in the top three markets in the country, seven stations in the top ten markets, and 34 stations in the top 50 markets.
The Applicants claim that under the proposed transaction, the combined company would reach 72 percent of U.S. television households and would own and operate the largest number of broadcast television stations of any station group.

Being force fed a “Right thinking will be rewarded, wrong thinking punished” political ideology upon a supposedly objective news team is contradictory to the tenants of an unfettered press and the needs of a local community to make informed choices.

Do you have a Sinclair outlet in your community? Here is a list.