The network, which is known for blatantly spreading misinformation and injecting poison into the democracy, has reportedly had tens of millions of dollars poured into its revenue stream from AT&T-owned platforms that included DirecTV. This is according to Reuters, who reviewed court records.
The report which was published Wednesday provides details of the network’s efforts to skew and manipulate the news in former President Donald Trump’s favor. On January 6th, an OAN news director instructed staff over email: “Please DO NOT say ‘Trump Supporters Storm Capitol …’ Simply call them demonstrators or protestors … DO NOT CALL IT A RIOT!!!”
In 2019, Herring testified that he was approached by AT&T executives in 2013 who wanted to launch a conservative news network to compete with Fox News. Reuters says AT&T even offered to buy a 5 percent equity stake in OANN and Herring’s lifestyle channel AWE, although the two ended up choosing a different agreement.
Not stopping at financing the launch, AT&T exec Aaron Slator allegedly offered to put the OAN on DirecTV in return for help lobbying for the satellite broadcaster’s 2014 merger with WarnerMedia. The Herring family also supposedly met FCC officials to talk about the merger and speak well of AT&T in news stories.
The Dallas-based telecom giant rejected claims of undue influence in responses to Reuters and The Verge. The carrier maintained that DirecTV “does not dictate” channel programming and that DirecTV merger support was “never a condition of or part of” any content carriage agreement.
In a Twitter statement, AT&T maintained it “never had a financial interest” in OAN and that the decision to carry the network was now in DirecTV’s hands.
During Trump’s last two years, OANN emerged as a home for far-right political agendas and targets viewers who love former President Trump. It rose to prominence by covering Trump rallies live and featuring hosts who help the President with the spread of his lies. OAN has pushed Trump’s big lie about the election and COVID-19 vaccines.
The network was sued earlier this year by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation based on statements made about the 2020 election.