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Courting Controversy at KBOI-TV is News but Nothing New

The latest script the script read by Brent Hunsaker and Natalie Hurst was penned and approved by officials at the Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group.

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Smack-dab in the middle of a recent news broadcast, KBOI-TV anchors Brent Hunsaker and Natalie Hurst looked into the camera with an earnestness usually reserved for dire news.

"The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media," said Hunsaker, who has been reading the news at the Boise CBS affiliate since 2014.

"This is extremely dangerous to our democracy," added Hurst, a station veteran since 2005.

The message was far from a KBOI-TV exclusive. In fact, the script read by Hunsaker and Hurst was penned and approved by officials at the Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner/operator of KBOI-TV and more than 190 other televisions stations. It's one of the largest broadcast conglomerates in the nation. Millions of viewers from coast to coast got the same "false news" broadcast from their own local anchors at Sinclair-owned stations.

"Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think," said Hurst, continuing the statement echoed by nearly 200 other anchors.

In March, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published a copy of the boilerplate script sent to each Sinclair station. Within days, dozens of Sinclair affiliates began towing the company line.

"They're certainly not happy about it," an employee of Seattle-based KOMO-TV, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Post-Intelligencer. "It's certainly a forced thing."

This isn't the first time that KBOI-TV has courted controversy. In March 2014, Boise Weekly reported that a news promo openly advocated for small government while deriding outsiders for "imposing their will" to fix Idaho health care. When BW asked then-KBOI-TV Vice President and General Manager Don Pratt about the message, he said he "didn't have much to say" about the matter, and conceded that it was not the station's intention "to create a spot that creates an impression of bias. But to the extent that we've done that, we're obviously going to be held accountable."

The 2014 spot on health care was pulled from the airwaves shortly thereafter, but the most recent spot on media bias continues to air on Sinclair outlets across the nation.