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Video: TV Stations Around the U.S. Reported Identical News, Revealing Hidden 'Affiliate Service' -- and Were Outed by a Conan O'Brien Comedy Clip Washington Post

Television stations around the U.S. broadcast identical news in a story that ran during the late stages of the presidential campaign, The Washington Post reports. The reports on a number of stations led off with the same phrase: "The final days of the campaign can get a little salty.”

At least a dozen stations in both large and small cities carried the same story about restaurants serving drinks and dishes with names inspired by the candidates. The trend was so striking that Conan O'Brien strung the clips together for a comedy bit on his TBS show. (See the clip below.)

The reason for the identical scripts is that the "salty" story was produced by an "affiliate service," CNN Newsource. Stations get scripts that introduce prepackaged footage, which the stations can localize by having their anchors read the scripts, the story says.

"Viewers typically have no idea that a seemingly local story has come from a centralized source in New York, Los Angeles or, in this case, Washington. The CNN Newsource story, for example, doesn’t mention CNN Newsource or CNN, its parent company," the piece points out.

Here's the Conan clip: