Donald Trump the businessman prided himself on making winning business deals. Now, Donald Trump the president appears to be a winner in a deal he didn’t even negotiate.
The Sinclair Broadcast Group, already the nation’s largest owner of local television stations, is adding 42 more in a $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The result could be slightly friendlier coverage for the president in the nation’s largest media markets, as well as in cities such as Cleveland; Greensboro, N.C.; and Des Moines that represent key centers in battleground states.
Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, claimed in a December meeting with business executives that the Trump campaign traded access for less-critical coverage from Sinclair, according to Politico. Sinclair denied favoring Trump and said its stations aired more interviews with the Republican than with his Democratic rival because Hillary Clinton turned down multiple requests.
Generally speaking, Sinclair’s news coverage leans right. The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi reported in 2014 that “over the years, the company and its executives have been consistent financial contributors to Republican candidates.”
Local television remains a leading source of news for many Americans. In a Pew Research Center survey, voters named Fox News and CNN as their top sources of information about the presidential campaign. Facebook, which aggregates news from many outlets, ranked third.
Then came local TV – ahead of any broadcast network or national newspaper.
Local TV stations help shape voters’ perceptions of the news, and Sinclair is about to own 215 of them, assuming regulatory approval. That is good news for Trump.