Politico reported yesterday that Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had told business executives that the Trump campaign made a deal with the Sinclair Broadcast Group to get better media coverage from the owner of a chain of TV stations, including KATV in Little Rock.
Kushner said the agreement with Sinclair, which owns television stations across the country in many swing states and often packages news for their affiliates to run, gave them more access to Trump and the campaign, according to six people who heard his remarks.
In exchange, Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary, Kushner said. Kushner highlighted that Sinclair, in states like Ohio, reaches a much wider audience — around 250,000 listeners — than networks like CNN, which reach somewhere around 30,000.
“It’s math,” Kushner said according to multiple attendees.
Scott Livingston, vice president of news at Sinclair, said the offer for extended interviews with local anchors was made to both candidates. Trump did a handful of interviews, while Sen. Tim Kaine did a few as well, though Hillary Clinton did not.
Over the years, Sinclair has drawn attention for the conservative political preferences of its owners, sometimes evident in the group’s news operation.
Sinclair, a Maryland-based company, has been labeled in some reports as a conservative-leaning local news network. Local stations in the past have been directed to air “must run” stories produced by Sinclair’s Washington bureau that were generally critical of Obama administration and offered perspectives primarily from conservative think tanks, The Washington Post reported in 2014.
A web search shows KATV picked up interviews with Trump by Sharyl Attkison. who left CBS complaining of liberal bias and who has gotten a reputation for a conservative leaning outlook in her work, particularly for criticism of the Obama administration. One example of KATV’s use of the Trump-Sinclair cooperation was an October interview with Trump for Attkisson’s “Full Measure” program carried on Sinclair outlets.
Kushner also talked about the rising power of Google and Facebook and what he saw as the decline of influence of the likes of the New York Times and, particularly, CNN.