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Sinclair reporter falsely links Capitol siege to “far-left infiltrators”

James Rosen's claim was widely debunked after it aired on more than a dozen Sinclair stations on Wednesday.

James Rosen's claim was widely debunked after it aired on more than a dozen Sinclair stations on Wednesday.

(Photo courtesy Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library)

A national reporter for Sinclair Broadcast Group falsely linked a violent protest at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to “far-left infiltrators.”

The comment made in a news package aired on several Sinclair television stations also appeared in a now-deleted video posted to Twitter by James Rosen, a former national correspondent for Fox News who now works in the same position for Sinclair.

In the video package, Rosen said supporters of President Donald Trump began clashing with Capitol Police in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, but claimed the protest was “likely augment by far-left infiltrators.”

Later in the news package, Rosen said images posted online showed “at least some of the protesters who breached the Capitol were previously photographed earlier this year taking part in [Black Lives Matter] and antifa actions as far away as Arizona.” Rosen did not explain how, or if, Sinclair verified the images as accurate, and at least some of them were later proven to be false.

Rosen’s assertion of a “far-left” infiltration was also not supported by police affidavits and criminal complaints released by the U.S. Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies related to charges filed against dozens of siege participants, all of whom have been identified as supporters of Trump as of Saturday morning. Instead, his comments appeared to be based upon his own speculation, according to posts he made on Twitter during the siege.

“I am sure some segments of the demonstrators/rioters are not ‘pro Trump’ at all: Professional agitators who want to make [Trump] look bad,” he wrote.

Sinclair aired Rosen’s original package containing the false comments across more than a dozen local broadcast stations, according to a report. The package, which was also posted to his Twitter account, appeared to flaunt federal regulations that prohibit licensed stations — like those owned by Sinclair — from airing material that is knowingly false as it relates to a crime or catastrophe.

Wednesday evening, Sinclair began airing an updated news story produced by Rosen that did not contain the false claims that the demonstrators had been infiltrated by outside agitators. In the days since the siege, Rosen has accurately reported that violence at the Capitol was the result of a “pro-Trump mob.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).