MSNBC pulls a Sinclair, compares corporate owner Comcast to Nelson Mandela

After bashing Sinclair Broadcasting for having its news anchors read a corporate script praising the group’s journalistic standards, MSNBC did the same on Friday,as its journalists extolled the virtues of MSNBC’s owner, Comcast.

In a ‘Morning Joe’ segment presented as news, Comcast forced its anchors to read a commercial for “Comcast Cares Day,” during which Al Sharpton compared the corporate giant’s social message to that of Nelson Mandela.

We do this as a company because as a big company, as a big corporation, we certainly appreciate that we have a responsibility to give back to the communities,” Comcast Senior Executive Vice President David Cohen said. “When we’re organized like this, we can do 17 years of this incredible day of service, which has a huge impact on one day but is really a celebration of the fact that we care every day of the year.”

Other Comcast-owned NBC affiliates parroted the same message, including NBC 5 in Chicago, NBC 10 in Philadelphia, NBC 4 in Los Angeles and the Denver Post. Journalist Glenn Greenwald described the feel-good corporate plug as “creepy and humiliating,” while Adam Johnson, a writer with FAIR Media Watch, called the message “cultish.”

Earlier this month, anchors at hundreds of local news stations owned by the conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group read verbatim a script praising the “quality, balanced journalism” of local Sinclair stations, while bemoaning the “sharing of biased and false news” by national media. Internal documents called the campaign an “anchor-delivered journalistic responsibility message.”

Sinclair was criticized for the move by other media outlets. An MSNBC segment pondered whether the Sinclair promo represented a “threat,” and described the script as a “dog whistle” to Trump supporters.  

As a journalist, I would assume you don’t listen to your corporate overlord,” MSNBC anchor Katy Tur said. “If somebody at the top of NBC or Comcast came to me and said, ‘Katy Tur, I want you to read this script exactly as it is,’ I would assume, I would hope that I would say: ‘I don’t agree with this…so I’m not going to do it.’”

Seemingly none of Tur’s colleagues felt the same when they read Comcast’s script on Friday.

For a corporation that boasts that it can help “be the generation that helps improve our world one community at a time,” Comcast regularly tops the lists of America’s most hated companies, scoring terribly in cost, performance, billing, customer support and reliability metrics. In 2016, the company was forced to pay a $ 2.3 million fine over allegations that it charged customers for unauthorized services and equipment.

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