The Baltimore Sun’s new owner isn’t quite the moral paragon he expects his businesses to be.
David Smith, the longtime chairman of Sinclair Broadcasting Group who recently scooped up the Sun in an undisclosed nine-figure deal, has lived a salacious private life at odds with his conservative media empire.
In August 1996, the Sun reported that Smith was caught by police in an undercover sting while receiving oral sex from a sex worker in a company-owned Mercedes. The Baltimore-based businessman was then detained overnight in the city’s Central Booking Center.
According to the paper, police said the sex worker broke off conversation with an undercover police officer when she saw “her regular date driving in the area.” She then ran over to a 1992 Mercedes, registered to Sinclair, and got in on the passenger side.
But that was just the one time Smith “got caught,” according to one unidentified friend of the media mogul who spoke with GQ in 2005.
“He’s a whoremonger. A real whoremonger,” the friend told the magazine. “He loves the titty bars. The only people he likes go to the titty bars with him. Those are the only people he trusts. He also goes out to Vegas all the time. He goes to the high-end titty bars. He’s always getting the private upstairs rooms, champagne, the works.”
At the time of the interview, Smith would have been in his mid-fifties.
While the Sun will not technically be included in the Sinclair media empire, it has already been warned that it will be expected to more closely resemble the politics of the Sinclair-owned local Fox station, which Smith spoke glowingly of during a contentious two-hour meet and greet with staff on Tuesday.
In the same meeting, Smith dropped that he had read the daily paper—which has been a staple in the Baltimore market since its inception in 1837—just four times.
Other upcoming changes on the menu include expecting Sun staff to conduct unscientific online polls on a daily basis, similar to the multimillionaire’s TV empire, per The Baltimore Banner.
Over the last several decades, Sinclair has become known for issuing unfounded scripts and segments from the top down to hundreds of its affiliates, resulting in toxic, Big Brother gibberish, per The New Republic’s Michael Tomasky.
Representatives for Sinclair did not respond to a request for comment prior to publishing. Nearly two decades ago, when the allegations were initially produced, David Smith and Sinclair’s executives and attorneys declined dozens of opportunities to comment when contacted by telephone, email, and when a reporter visited their office, according to GQ.