News & Politics

Conservative Media Group 'Pressured' Its Employees to Be More Pro-Trump During the 2016 Election: Report

The report falls in line with a consistent pattern of right-wing outlets forcing commentators to embrace the president.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Multiple employees for the conservative company Salem Media Group, a major player in the talk radio world, were pressured to deliver commentary more favorable to President Donald Trump and less critical of his actions during the 2016 campaign, according to a new report from CNNMoney. The report continues a pattern of recent stories showing conservative outlets rewarding pro-Trump commentators and marginalizing voices who are critical of the president.

One former host for Salem, Elisha Krauss, spoke to CNNMoney on the record about her treatment. She was ultimately terminated after what she says were multiple conversations with company executives explicitly telling her that she must offer more positive coverage of Trump.

Outlets of all stripes have ideological dispositions and values, of course, and it's no surprise that outlets often promote certain partisan viewpoints. But Krauss said that Salem creates a "facade" of having a range of opinions in their coverage while explicitly guiding their commentators toward a message favorable for the president. It also may appear to be presenting its hosts as contributors of original opinions while forcing them to toe the company line.

In one email obtained by CNNMoney, a Salem executive chastised two employees critical of Trump for covering Melania Trump's plagiarized convention speech in 2016. He suggested that such stories do nothing to "advance the cause."

The report comes after a mass firing at the conservative site RedState in which critics said the outlet was purging itself of anti-Trump voices. RedState is among Salem's web properties.

Many observers have also raised concerns about the conservative bent of Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has reportedly been forcing the local TV news stations it controls to air pro-Trump propaganda. 

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.