I own a home in Harpswell, and I watch the CBS affiliate based in Portland. Cooling my heels until Stephen Colbert comes on at 11:30, I absent-mindedly watch the 11 p.m. news. This amounts to 30 minutes of local news, sports updates, a double dip of weather and banter among the newscasters. Just before diving into the final weather forecast, the local station cuts to a report from the Terrorism Alert Desk. The first time I heard “Terrorism Alert Desk,” I sat up straight. What? “Terrorism Alert”?

I needn’t have roused myself. The segment is perhaps 45 seconds of transparent fear-mongering by an earnest reporter announcing explosions halfway around the world without supplying context or meaning. The announcer ends by solemnly confirming that “this has been an update from the Terrorism Alert Desk.” The local newscasters reappear, resume their banter and close with the final weather forecast. Strangely, they never acknowledge this little gem of bone-chilling news has aired.

Eventually I realized the “Terrorism Alert” announcer is a Sinclair Broadcast shill – not a CBS reporter. The Portland CBS affiliate is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, which uses CBS as a platform to broadcast its right-wing agenda in this market.

I doubt CBS has realized the import of this, but it sure should. I may not be a stockholder in CBS, but I am a lifelong CBS viewer, and so I do have emotional stock in CBS. Call me an emotional stakeholder. I don’t appreciate Sinclair’s piggybacking on CBS as a stage for their simplistic worldview, and neither should CBS.

To paraphrase the old Verizon ad, “Can you hear me now?”

Phyllis Doloff


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