Here’s the script for the next on-air editorial I’d like to see from Liz Quirantes and John Discepolo, the co-anchors for WPEC Channel 12 news in West Palm Beach.
Liz: Recently, John and I delivered an unusual on-air editorial warning viewers to be wary of fake news by “some media outlets.”
John: That’s right, Liz. I believe I called it a “troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided stories plaguing our country.”
Liz: And I looked earnestly into the camera and said, “Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.”
John: And you also said, “This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.”
Liz: Yes, that was right before you said, “Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.”
John: Which is why Liz and I are here to restore that credibility.
Liz: Yes, John and I want to set the record straight.
John: You need to know something very important about that editorial we delivered.
Liz: It was a hostage video.
John: Not our words.
Liz: We were, like, news POWs.
John: Smiling on the outside, dying on the inside.
Liz: I thought about blinking H-E-L-P with my eyelashes in Morse code, but it’s crazy hard to blink long and short dashes while talking at the same time.
John: Like other anchors in the more than 100 Sinclair Broadcasting Group stations across the country, Liz and I were handed a script by our corporate overlords that we had to read verbatim.
Liz: We just got to insert our names and the station name in the script.
John: It was no different than the scripts read by TV news anchors in other Sinclair stations across the country.
John: Viewers watching might have been fooled into thinking that Liz and I wrote that script ourselves and those opinions were self-generated and genuine.
Liz: But we just reading. The company even dictated how we dressed while delivering this message.
John: It said, “avoid totally red, blue and purple ties. The goal is to look apolitical, neutral, nonpartisan yet professional.”
Liz: It said “females should wear yellow, gold, magenta, cyan but avoid red, blue or purple.”
John: We were being asked to appear non-partisan while delivering a highly-partisan political message ultimately aimed at ruining public trust in our very own profession.
Liz: It made me feel yucky.
John: Me too, Liz.
Liz: I was so depressed, I almost ate dessert.
John: And now to restore a little bit of “factual reporting” that is “the foundation of our credibility,” Liz and I feel it’s only fair and balanced to set the record straight.
Liz: That’s right, John. Platforms that push a personal bias can be extremely dangerous to our democracy, especially when that bias is so artfully disguised.
John: So in the interest of better-late-than-never objectivity, we’d like to tell you some of the facts that would not be obvious from our previous editorial.
Liz: Tell them about Boris, John.
John: You need to know about Boris Epshteyn.
Liz: He’s a Russian-born investment banker who in 2013 moderated a conference in New York City entitled “Invest in Moscow!”
John: Epshteyn became a senior policy advisor to the Donald Trump campaign in 2016 …
Liz: Just another random Russian connection.
John: … and after Trump’s election, Epshteyn was the director of communications for Trump’s inauguration.
Liz: He left the Trump administration in March of 2017 to join Sinclair as a political analyst and the company’s editorial voice.
John: Shortly after Epshteyn joined Sinclair, stations were required to air “must run” editorials from him nine times a week.
Liz: His views on Russia are worth noting.
John: He denies that Russia seized Crimea.
Liz: And despite the findings of America’s spy agencies, he casts doubt on Russia interfering in our presidential election of 2016.
John: “You have to ask Russia whether they meddled in our election,” he said in a televised interview.
Liz: Now Epshteyn is using Sinclair’s local news stations across the country to spread deceptively packaged messaging meant to get Americans to discount what truly independent media outlets report.
John: It’s bad enough carrying his opinion as gospel.
Liz: But now we have to share his worldview as if it’s ours. Local viewers are getting Boris disguised as Liz and me.
Liz: Since when is Boris the one to turn to?
John: We should be doing local news: I-95 shutdowns. Homicides. Ten-degree fluctuations in weather.
Liz: Instead, time which otherwise would be devoted to local news reporting, is being used to sow seeds of distrust in the connections made between the Trump administration and Russia.
John: All under the false banner of media responsibility.
Liz: Now that we said this I feel so much better.
John: Me too. By the way, Channel 12 would love to know what you think.
Liz: Yes, that’s true. As I said in that hostage video, “If you believe our coverage is unfair, please reach out through our station’s website by clicking on ‘Content Concerns.’”
John: That’s http://cbs12.com/content-concerns
Liz: I’m sure the company would want to know whether you prefer your local news filtered through Russian-born investment bankers who dabble in propaganda.