Background Briefing: June 27, 2024

Why Do More Americans in Swing States Think Trump is Better For Democracy? The Answer Might be the Local Influence of Sinclair Broadcast Group

We begin with a Washington Post poll that finds more Americans in key swing states think Trump is better for democracy than Biden and try to explain this Orwellian disconnect by exploring the influence of right wing local media in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. We focus in particular on Sinclair Broadcast Group which operates 185 local television stations in 86 markets pumping out right wing propaganda on local news which a majority of Americans trust, many under the imprimatur of CBS, ABC and NBC affiliates. Joining us is Aaron Rupar, an independent journalist covering US politics and media. He is the author of Public Notice at where his latest articles include “How right-wing media is legitimizing a nonsensical and nonexistent lawsuit” and “Sinclair injects deceptive attacks on Biden’s age into dozens of local broadcasts.”


How We Arrived at a Moment Where a Reality TV Right Wing Populist Captured One of America’s Two Major Political Parties

Then we speak with John Ganz who writes the widely acclaimed Unpopular Front newsletter for Substack. We will discuss his latest book, just out, When the Clock Broke: Con Men, Conspiracists, and How America Cracked Up in the Early 1990s to understand the history of how we arrived at a moment where a Reality TV right wing populist captured one of America’s two major political parties.


The Author of Nasty Politics: The Logic of Insults, Threats, and Incitement

Then finally, just ahead of the first presidential debate, we speak with Thomas Zeitzoff, a professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University. His research focuses on political violence, social media, and political psychology, and he is the author of Nasty Politics: The Logic of Insults, Threats, and Incitement. We discuss how Trump’s handlers are trying to restrain their candidate from indulging in his signature “nasty politics’ while Biden’s handlers are hoping to avoid a senior moment tonight.