A media company under fire for spreading COVID-19 misinformation and right-wing propaganda may be part of your 401(k) or investment account.
Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. is a massive American telecommunications conglomerate that owns and/or operates 191 television stations in 89 media markets.
Over the past week, Sinclair repeatedly made national news — first for posting a video online featuring a discredited conspiracy theorist baselessly arguing that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and a member of Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, was responsible for manufacturing the coronavirus and then for ultimately deciding not to air the segment on most of its television stations as it had planned to do.
The controversial segment was scheduled to air during the program "America This Week," hosted by former Fox News personality Eric Bolling.
Bolling has also pushed false claims about the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was not the first time Sinclair has been in the spotlight for airing right-wing propaganda.
Back in 2004, the company ordered most of its stations to pre-empt regular prime-time programming and instead show a news program framed around a discredited documentary attacking then-Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, just days before the election.
In 2018, Sinclair required local news reporters to read a script decrying "fake" news on non-Sinclair stations. A Deadspin video, showing dozens of anchors reading identical statements went viral and drew attention to Sinclair's pro-Trump efforts.
The company also has required its stations to air "must-run" propaganda segments supporting Trump during local news broadcasts. Until last December, these included including pre-taped "analysis" from former Trump senior adviser Boris Epshteyn.
Sinclair did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
A public company, Sinclair trades on the NASDAQ as "SBGI." According to CNN Business, the top ten owners hold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of shares. About one third of the shares are held in mutual funds and most of the rest are held by other institutional investors.
BlackRock Fund Advisors reportedly holds about a 5.39% stake, valued at more than $55 million.
According to its website, BlackRock iShares including Core 10+ Year USD Bond ETF, Core Dividend Growth ETF, iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF, Morningstar Small-Cap ETF, Russell 2000 ETF, and U.S. Consumer Services ETF all include Sinclair stock.
BlackRock did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Fidelity Management & Research Company reportedly holds about a 5.97% stake, valued at more than $61 million.
According to its website, the Fidelity Advisor Communication Services Fund, AMG Managers LMCG Small Cap Growth Fund, Mid-Cap Stock Fund, and Select Communication Services Portfolio include Sinclair stock.
The February 29, 2020 annual report for the last of those portfolios included a comment from its manager that stated "untimely ownership of Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns local television networks, dragged on the fund's relative return."
A spokesperson told The American Independent Foundation that Fidelity does "not comment on individual companies."
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC reportedly holds about a 7.28% stake, valued at more than $74 million.
Goldman Sachs did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
JPMorgan Securities LLC reportedly holds about a 2.38% stake, valued at more than $24 million.
JPMorgan declined to comment for this story.
The Vanguard Group reportedly holds the largest stake of the groups on this list — about 11.23% — valued at more than $114 million.
According to its website, 18 Vanguard funds include Sinclair stock. They include the Balanced Index, Communications Services Index, Extended Market Index, Growth and Income, High Dividend Yield Index, Market Neutral, Russell 1000 Index, Russell 1000 Value Index, Russell 3000 Index, Small-Cap Index, Tax-Managed Capital Appreciation, Total Stock Market Index, and US Value Factor ETF.
Vanguard did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.