Wednesday, October 6, 2021

All The Disinformation That's Fit To Stream

One America News Network has been a player in the new right-wing disinformation swamp for a couple of years now along with NewsMax under Trump, all with the basic heading of "When Fox News is too liberal for you!" It's been one of the most vile cable boutique purveyors of Qball right-wing conspiracies, too much for even YouTube to deal with, while its terrible white supremacist contributors are encouraging violence while on the loose.

Well, turns out OANN has a major corporate bankroller and distribution patron in AT&T, who quite literally commissioned the channel for its DirecTV service and provides some 90% of the network's revenue stream.
One America News, the far-right network whose fortunes and viewership rose amid the triumph and tumult of the Trump administration, has flourished with support from a surprising source: AT&T Inc, the world's largest communications company.

A Reuters review of court records shows the role AT&T played in creating and funding OAN, a network that continues to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic.

OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring Sr has testified that the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives.

“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring said during a 2019 deposition seen by Reuters. “They 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.”

Since then, AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue, court records show. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV, according to 2020 sworn testimony by an OAN accountant.

Herring has testified he was offered $250 million for OAN in 2019. Without the DirecTV deal, the accountant said under oath, the network’s value “would be zero.”

“They told us they wanted a conservative network. … When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”OAN founder Robert Herring Sr in a 2019 deposition

Dallas-based AT&T, a mobile-phone and Internet provider, also owns entertainment giant Warner Media, which includes CNN and HBO. AT&T acquired DirecTV in 2015 and in August spun off the satellite service, retaining a 70% share in the new, independently managed company. AT&T’s total U.S. television subscriber base, including satellite and streaming services, fell from 26 million in 2015 to 15.4 million as of August.

AT&T spokesman Jim Greer declined to comment on the testimony about OAN’s revenue streams, citing confidentiality agreements. He said that DirecTV broadcasts “many news channels that offer viewpoints across the political spectrum.”

“We have always sought to provide a wide variety of content and programming that would be of interest to customers, and do not dictate or control programming on channels we carry,” Greer said. “Any suggestion otherwise is wrong.”

Although the contracts are confidential, in court filings Herring cited monthly fees included in one five-year deal with AT&T. According to an AT&T filing citing Herring’s numbers, those fees would total about $57 million. Greer said that figure is inaccurate, but declined to say how much AT&T has paid to air OAN, citing a non-disclosure agreement.

Herring and his adult sons own and operate OAN, a subsidiary of their closely held San Diego-based Herring Networks. Their AT&T deal includes Herring’s other network, a little-watched lifestyle channel, AWE. The Herrings declined interview requests.

Herring, who just turned 80, is a self-made businessman who amassed a fortune in the circuit board industry, then turned to television and boxing promotion. OAN’s influence rose in late 2015, when it began covering Trump rallies live, at a time when some of the media still saw the New York celebrity businessman as a longshot presidential contender. The network continues to shower Trump with attention and often provides a friendly platform for his Republican allies.

As president, Trump frequently urged supporters to watch OAN. In his final two years in office, Trump touted the network, known as @OANN online, to his 88 million Twitter followers at least 120 times
So in addition to owning a national mobile carrier, HBO, CNN, TBS, TNT, Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel and TLC, plus DC Comics, Warner Pictures, New Line Cinema, Cartoon Network, Hanna-Barbera and a couple of video games studios to market all those characters, AT&T also secretly created, all but owns and all but runs one of the most vile, awful, racist white supremacist propaganda conspiracy outlets in America, beloved by Trump himself.

As a consumer, you get to choose which company you give your dollars to (for the most part.) AT&T decided a long time ago to make the choice that Donald Trump was good for business.

You want to maybe consider making such a choice yourself here.

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