The rumors are true. I have parted company with my longtime cell provider AT&T. After years of relying on their vast network of cell towers, I have abandoned the conglomerate that gave birth to One America News Network.
According to Reuters: “AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms.”
This controversial network has recently been dropped by its largest outlet, Direct TV/U-verse TV services and sued for $1 billion by Dominion Voting Systems over coverage of alleged election fraud. It was also suspended for a week on YouTube after it advertised a fake cure for Covid. In addition, its White House reporter was kicked out for failing to observe Covid social-distancing protocols.
As a Jew, I take particular offense to the network’s false and libelous reporting that investor/philanthropist George Soros collaborated with Nazis at the tender age of 14 and also privately financed migrant caravans. Both allegations are demonstrably false.
The Soros story came from Kristian Brunovich Rouz, a San Diego-based Siberian expat. Rouz has simultaneously been on the payroll of OAN and Kremlin propaganda site Sputnik.
Media Matters, a progressive research organization that monitors and corrects conservative misinformation in American media, also reports that OAN host Stephanie Hamill praised Fox News’s antisemetic George Soros documentary in February.
As Reuters has reported in depth, AT&T recruited OAN founder and CEO Robert Herring to create this network that is all too often a source of misinformation.
“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring said during a 2019 deposition.
“They (AT&T) only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [leftwing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”
An AT&T spokesman says the company “never had a financial interest in OAN's success and does not 'fund' OAN.” This contradicts CEO Herring who stated in court filings that fees in one five-year contract with OAN totaled about $57 million.
Reuters further reports that “court filings also cite a promise by OAN to “cast a positive light” on AT&T during newscasts.
OAN’s reporters also go above and beyond their newscasts to raise big money for causes they believe in. For example, the company had no problem letting two of its journalists raise $605,000 to fund a special audit of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona. Another OAN journalist joined Trump’s recount legal team part time.
Speaking to Reuters, American University journalism professor John Watson says of the OAN audience:
If you have 12 Americans being fed a diet of untruth, that’s 12 too many — and here, it’s literally millions. When you have that sort of poisonous influence on mass media, it’s a problem, because elections in the United States tend to be so close, a few percentage points here or there can really make a difference.
Here’s a good example of the problem Watson describes. As Trump loyalists descended on the U.S. Capitol to block the election of Joe Biden on January 6 an OAN News Director wrote his staff:
“Please DO NOT say ‘Trump Supporters Storm Capitol …’ Simply call them demonstrators or protestors … DO NOT CALL IT A RIOT!!!”
OAN has also been central to a litany of undocumented stories including the misleading allegation that a 75-year-old demonstrator badly beaten during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Buffalo was an ANTIFA conspirator.
Here are other examples that show how this network handles big news stories:
On election night in November 2018 the network falsely reported that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore had won the race “by a large margin.”
In 2018, the network furthered Dictator Bashar al-Assad's preposterous claim that White Helmets — Syrian Civil Defense volunteers focused on medical evacuation and search and rescue — were the source of a deadly chemical attack on civilian neighborhoods.
An OAN story with 1.4 million views on Facebook claimed that the California legislature was considering a ban on bible sales. In fact, the bill in question focused on gay conversion therapy.
AT&T’s attempt to deny its role in the creation and support of this bizarre and malignant “journalism” is an embarrassment to its shareholders. To date, the company has never asked OAN to correct or retract any of its erroneous or misleading coverage.
As a tech at my new cell carrier pulled my AT&T sim card from my phone and installed a new one, I realized how easy it is to send OAN’s co-creator a message. Beyond taking my business elsewhere, I am donating the $15 a month I’m saving to the Anti-Defamation League.
A tenth anniversary screening of Roger Rapoport’s Made-in-Michigan feature film Waterwalk is set for July 22 at Muskegon’s Orchard View High School with author Steve Faulkner. His film Coming Up For Air screens at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater September 30 at 7 p.m. More details at rogerrapoport.com. You can email Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org