Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka is married to Jared Kushner, who owns and runs the New York Observer. And yes, The Donald's son-in-law is just as odious as he is. No surprise then that it turns out Kushner gave exclusive access to Maryland-based broadcaster Sinclair for favorable interviews with Trump that ran on TV stations Sinclair owned.
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.
“Our promise was to give all candidates an opportunity to voice their position share their position with our viewers. Certainly we presented an opportunity so that Mr. Trump could clearly state his position on the key issues,” Livingston said. “Our commitment to our viewers is to go beyond podium, beyond the rhetoric. We’re all about tracking the truth and telling the truth and that’s typically missing in most political coverage.”
A Trump spokesman said the deal included the interviews running across every affiliate but that no money was exchanged between the network and the campaign. The spokesman said the campaign also worked with other media outlets that had affiliates, like Hearst, to try and spread their message.
“It was a standard package, but an extended package, extended story where you’d hear more directly from candidate on the issue instead of hearing all the spin and all the rhetoric,” Livingston said.
It's just math, right? Except for the fact Trump has repeatedly denied access to networks he thinks are unfair to him, and he's producing a TV show on NBC next year while still President. Oh, and Sinclair hates liberals.
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.
Of course Kushner went to them. Why do you need the cable networks at all when you can get interviews on the local affiliates that people watch for news anyway?
Kushner, dressed in a suit and sneakers, told the business executives that the campaign was upset with CNN because they considered its on-air panels stacked against Trump. He added that he personally talked with Jeff Zucker about changing the composition of the panels but Zucker refused. He repeatedly said in the panel that CNN wasn't "moving the needle" and wasn't important as it once was, according to three of the people present.
The campaign then decided not to work as closely with CNN, and Trump ramped up his bashing of the cable network.
Two people present said that they were surprised how much Kushner talked about CNN. "He kept going on and on about it," one business executive said.
He also told the crowd that Google and Facebook are now more powerful, and that The New York Times and CNN aren't as powerful.
Get used to that. Pretty soon the only game in town will be news outlets that are "fair and balanced" to Trump. Critics won't have access at all.