- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A producer at Sinclair-owned KHGI-TV in Nebraska has announced his resignation over what he described as “obvious” political bias at the major broadcasting company.

“Resigning seemed like the least I could do,” Justin Simmons, a morning TV producer at KHGI, told CNN on Wednesday. “I wish there was more.”

Mr. Simmons said he had been concerned for the past year and a half about Sinclair’s mandated “must-run” segments for local news stations, but a script bashing fake news recited by dozens of news anchors across the country was the last straw.

“This is almost forcing local news anchors to lie to their viewers,” he said.

Mr. Simmons’ resignation letter, obtained by CNN, said he was required to air “several segments that have made me uncomfortable,” citing “the news media bashing promo our local anchors have been required to read” as the most recent example.

Sinclair, the biggest owner of local television stations in the country, came under fire this week following a now-viral Deadspin video that showed dozens of local news anchors on Sinclair-owned networks reciting the same script about fake news.

“We’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country,” the Sinclair script read. “Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think. This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.”

CNN interviewed several Sinclair employees who were embarrassed by the script, saying it hurt the company’s credibility.

Sinclair has defended the promos as a simple “journalistic responsibility campaign” to market its stations.

President Trump also came to the company’s defense in a tweet Monday morning, writing, “So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”

Mr. Simmons submitted his resignation on March 26, which came after the fake news promos aired, but before Deadspin’s video sparked a backlash, CNN reported. He originally proposed an April 20 resignation date, but was placed on paid leave after he told his boss that he was speaking with CNN.

James Hasson, a contributing writer for The Federalist, pointed out on Twitter Wednesday afternoon that Mr. Simmons is not without political bias himself. The former KHGI producer posted several tweets in the past few years, while he was still working at the station as a journalist, touting his involvement in left-wing protests.

In August of 2016, Mr. Simmons was interviewed by a Nebraska news station while protesting with the Black Lives Matter movement against “systemic racism” in America. A few days later, he participated in a protest on Capitol Hill with Democracy Spring, which describes itself as a civil resistance movement organization that works to fight “voter suppression and the corruption of big money in politics.” In January of 2017, he protested against President Trump with the same group at Washington Dulles International Airport, “demanding an end to #MuslimBan & for release of detained refugees,” he tweeted.

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