Sinclair-owned broadcast stations in Montana will air ads this week from congressional candidate John Heenan that attack Sinclair Broadcast Group for “using its power to take advantage of journalists.”
Heenan, who is one of four Democrats challenging Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte, is a consumer rights attorney from Billings who bought morning ad time on three NBC affiliate stations in the western and southern areas of the state, all of which are owned by Sinclair.
“This station is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, a powerful corporation that forces its journalists to read corporate talking points on the air,” Heenan says in the ad. “A corporation using its power to take advantage of journalists, our democracy and the people of Montana? Not on my watch.”
Sinclair has come under scrutiny from Democrats after Deadspin tweeted out a devastating mashup of Sinclair broadcasters from around the country repeating right wing anti-media talking points denouncing “fake news” from “members of the media [who] use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think.'”
Tamy Wegner, general manager of the NBC affiliate airing the ad, told The Associated Press that they received the ad on Friday and said, “We don’t turn away candidate ads.”
The Democratic primary for Montana’s congressional race will take place on June 5. The winner will face Gianforte in the general midterm election in November. Gianforte won the seat last year as part of a special election, replacing Republican Ryan Zinke who was appointed Interior Secretary by Trump. According to FEC filings, Sinclair director Robert E. Smith has donated a maximum $5,400 to Gianforte’s campaign in 2017 and 2018.
Watch Heenan’s ad in the clip above.