The Washington Post reported this week that WJLA, ABC's Washington, D.C., affiliate, has taken a "subtle but noticeable turn to the right" since being taken over by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. This conservative tilt was on full display this week when the channel ran a news package promoting a baseless conspiracy theory about Benghazi from reporter Sharyl Attkisson.
The Washington Post piece highlighted the concerns of some staff members of local ABC affiliate WJLA, that following the finalization of the sale to Sinclair in August 2014, "some of the stories ordered by Sinclair on a 'must-run' basis don't meet the station's long tradition of non-partisan reporting." One factor in this shift to conservative partisan reporting was announced in July prior to the sale, when Sinclair hired discredited journalist Sharyl Attkisson as an "independent freelance reporter" to "focus on stories that follow the money and waste watch type of investigations."
However, prior to the September 17 opening hearing of the House Benghazi Special Committee, Attkisson ran a dubious report for Sinclair that appeared on WJLA highlighting the unverifiable claims of former State Department employee Raymond Maxwell alleging that some documents were intentionally withheld from the Accountability Review Board investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi:
The same day Attkisson's report ran on WJLA, Attkisson appeared on Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends where she reiterated the report's unsubstantiated accusations. Host Steve Doocy lamented that only a handful of outlets such as Fox and the Daily Signal -- the Heritage Foundation website to which Attkisson occasionally contributes -- were covering this latest so-called "Benghazi bombshell." Attkisson concluded the segment by mentioning that her report was also broadcast to "maybe 30 million local news viewers" through Sinclair's affiliate stations.
Although Sinclair's support of right-wing misinformation has been widely documented and criticized for many years, its increasing influence in local media bodes ill for objective journalism at stations like WJLA.
During a climate change discussion on Inside Washington, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer acknowledged that "we're pumping more CO2 into the air than ever before, much higher than a natural rate and it's having an effect on the atmosphere." Krauthammer, who calls himself "a global warming agnostic," went on to dismiss the computer models scientists use to project future climate change:
KRAUTHAMMER: Our models are extremely incomplete, as we see in weather predicting. We can predict up to about a week and after that, it's a mess. So predicting, 20, 30, 50, 100 years into the future -- and our predictions are constantly changing, which ought to tell you that the models are at least incomplete and deficient.
For one, models of any sort are by definition "incomplete." Scientists use models because we don't have a second Earth to experiment on. The question is, do the models know enough about the climate system to provide a useful picture of how it might look under a given scenario?
Climate experts say yes, but Krauthammer seems to disagree, noting that weather forecasts aren't reliable beyond a week into the future. It's a common argument: If we can't predict next month's weather, how can we say anything about the climate in 2100? In reality, invoking the limitations of weather predictions is a terrible way to evaluate climate models.
During interviews with Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Politico's John F. Harris and ABC 7's Leon Harris each claimed that Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (AZ) has "regularly" "stood up" to the Republican Party. But McCain has altered his positions on significant issues, such as taxes and immigration, to more closely align himself with the base of the Republican Party, and has been one of the most constant and forceful proponents of the Iraq war and its continuation.