John Oliver: Why Some Local News Is Getting More Conservative

John Oliver Local News Sinclair - H - 2017

The 'Last Week Tonight' host dedicated a 19-minute segment to the rise of Sinclair Broadcast Group, and its "noticeably" right-leaning slant.

John Oliver is taking aim at an emerging force in conservative media. 

In his main segment on Sunday, the Last Week Tonight host dedicated 18 minutes to explaining the influence of Sinclair Broadcast Group and arguing that the media giant uses its scale to inject right-wing talking points into local news coverage. (Sinclair, which on May 8 snapped up Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, comprises 173 TV stations in 81 markets across the United States.)

"We did some math, and we found out that when you combine the most watched nightly newscasts on Sinclair and Tribune stations in some of their largest markets, you get an average total viewership of 2.2 million households," the host said. "And that is a lot. It's more than any current primetime show on Fox News." 

Oliver lists numerous examples of network creating "noticeably" conservative-tilting content that then airs across its stations. The HBO host's main targets included Mark Hyman, who hosts political commentary show Behind the Headlines for the television group, and recent hire Boris Epshteyn, a Trump aide who is currently the chief political analyst at Sinclair. 

"If the opinions were confined just to the commentary or to the ad breaks that would be one thing," Oliver noted. "But Sinclair can sometimes dictate the content of your local newscast as well. And in contrast to Fox News — a clearly conservative outlet where you basically know what you're getting — with Sinclair they're injecting Fox-worthy content into the mouths of your local news anchors."

The kicker, featuring The Sopranos actor Steve Schirripa, is worth sticking around for too: