ONE AMERICA NEWS

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ESSENTIAL FACTS:

  • OANN is a far-right channel known for promoting falsehoods and conspiracy theories. OANN described itself as one of the "greatest supporters" of Trump. [1]

  • Herring Sr. ordered producers to promote pro-Trump stories, anti-Clinton stories, and anti-abortion stories, and to minimize stories about Russian 2016 election interference. He also prohibited the network from running stories about polls that did not show Trump in the lead during the 2016 election. [1]

  • OANN has employed reporters with apparent ties to Putin and Russia. Their coverage has also echoed various Kremlin talking points, and they lost a lawsuit against Rachel Maddow after she called OANN "Russian propaganda". [1][2][3]

  • In 2021, OANN was sued by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic for promoting false claims that the companies had engaged in election fraud during the 2020 presidential election. [1]

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OANN

Owner

CEO

Founded

HQ

Category

Bias

Herring Networks

Robert Herring Sr.

July 4, 2013

San Diego, CA

News Source, Corporation

Republican, Far-Right

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  • OANN is known for downplaying threats posed to the United States by Russia. According to a former OANN producer, on his first day at OANN he was told, "Yeah, we like Russia here." [1][2] One of OANN's reporters, Kristian Brunovich Rouz, simultaneously works for the Russian propaganda outlet and news agency Sputnik, which is state-owned. And when Rouz runs favorable segments on OANN that relate to Russia, OANN does not disclose that he also works for Sputnik. [3][4][5] Rouz compiled a wholly fabricated story that OANN ran in 2017, which alleged that Hillary Clinton's political action committee secretly gave $800,000 to "antifa." [6] In May 2020, Rouz created a segment for OANN in which he claimed "mounting evidence of a globalist conspiracy" involving the Clintons, Soros, Bill Gates, Anthony Fauci, and the Chinese government. However, still no evidence has been produced for any of these claims. [7]

  • On January 25, 2020, OANN aired a film titled, "The Ukraine Hoax: Impeachment, Biden Cash, and Mass Murder". In March 2021, the United States intelligence community released an analysis which found that proxies of Russian intelligence "made contact with established US media figures and helped produce a documentary that aired on a US television network in late January 2020" as part of a broad effort to promote and launder misleading or unsubstantiated narratives about Joe Biden "to US media organizations, US officials, and prominent US individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration." [1][2]

  • In September 2019, OANN parent Herring Networks sued MSNBC host Rachel Maddow (as well as Comcast, MSNBC and NBCUniversal Media) for $10 million in federal court, after Maddow said the network "literally [is] paid Russian propaganda" on her July 22, 2019 program (when she referred to a Daily Beast article identifying Rouz as working for Sputnik). [1] The court dismissed the suit, finding the claim was not defamation, but that a "reasonable viewer" would recognize it as a reasonable summation of the article published by The Daily Beast. [2][3] In February 2021, Herring Networks was ordered to pay Maddow and MSNBC $250,000 in legal fees in an anti-SLAPP ruling, stating that the initial suit was frivolous. OANN's appeal of the ruling was denied in August 2021. [4][5]

  • In the months after the 2020 United States presidential election, OANN extensively amplified false claims of election fraud and promoted conspiracy theories related to the election. [1][2] Five days after the Associated Press had called the election for Joe Biden, OANN continued to insist that Donald Trump had won, [3] and OANN continued to refer to Trump as "President Trump" (while referring to Biden as simply "Biden" or "Joe Biden") for months after the January 2021 inauguration of Joe Biden as President. [4] Christina Bobb, an OANN news anchor, was present in the Willard Hotel "command center" where top Trump associates worked to prevent Joe Biden's election from being certified.[5][6] The Washington Post reported in January 2022 that Bobb worked with Rudy Giuliani and other Trump campaign officials in December 2020 to create fraudulent certificates of ascertainment to falsely assert Trump had been reelected. [7][8]

  • OANN was a major promoter of the conspiracy theory that Dominion Voting Systems had manipulated vote totals to ensure the victory of Democratic candidate Joe Biden. [1][2] OANN spent months alleging manipulation by Dominion, [3] advanced claims that Dominion employees had colluded with Antifa activists, [4][5] aired a fictitious map allegedly seized by the US Army from election servers in Germany showing Donald Trump had received 410 electoral votes, [6] and hosted interviews with Trump allies claiming that Dominion was part of an international communist conspiracy. [7] Some of these claims were later amplified by President Trump, including a false assertion made on OANN that millions of votes for Trump were switched to votes for Joe Biden (a claim that originated on TheDonald.win, a pro-Trump website).[8][9][10] Trump also tweeted out an OANN segment in which Ron Watkins, a far-right conspiracy theorist and administrator of 8chan (the website famous for its close connection to the QAnon conspiracy theory), was falsely characterized as an expert on election issues as he promoted conspiracy theories about Dominion. [11][12]

  • OANN later removed all references to Dominion and Smartmatic, another company falsely accused of voter fraud, from its website without issuing public retractions after Dominion filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Sidney Powell. [1][2] However, on February 5, 2021, OANN aired Absolute Proof, a film produced by My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell that contained false claims and conspiracy theories about voter fraud in the election. Before the program, OANN showed a lengthy disclaimer asserting that the claims were Lindell's alone, but that the 2020 election results "remain disputed and questioned by millions of Americans." The disclaimer was seen as an attempt to avoid litigation from Dominion and Smartmatic. [3]

  • In 2021, OANN was sued by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic for "knowingly and continuously" spreading false election fraud narratives, [1] for a minimum of $1.6 billion. [2]

  • In December 2021, former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, filed a defamation lawsuit against OANN and several of its senior executives. In the complaint, Freeman and Moss claimed that OANN broadcast stories which falsely accused them of conspiring to produce secret batches of illegal ballots and inserting them into the voting machines to help Joe Biden win the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Due to the alleged false accusations, Freeman and Moss claimed that they "have become the objects of vitriol, threats, and harassment". [1] They eventually reached a settlement agreement with OANN, but other lawsuits are still pending. [2] In 2022, Shaye Moss received the JFK Profile In Courage Award, and OANN was forced to acknowledge that there was "no widespread voter fraud" by Georgia election workers in the 2020 presidential election. [3][4]

  • OANN saw growth in its audience as a result of its election coverage. It was boosted in particular by President Trump, who expressed disapproval of Fox News' reporting on the presidential election and encouraged his supporters to instead watch OANN or Newsmax TV, another conservative channel promoting election falsehoods. [1][2][3]

  • Reuters reported in October 2021 that on the day of the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, an OANN news director emailed staff: "Please DO NOT say 'Trump Supporters Storm Capitol...' Simply call them demonstrators or protestors...DO NOT CALL IT A RIOT!!!" The next day, Herring emailed news producers: "We want to report all the things Antifa did yesterday. I don’t think it was Trump people but lets investigate." The FBI has not found evidence of antifa involvement. [1]

  • In June 2021, OANN personality Pearson Sharp falsely stated in an on-air monologue that "the simple facts point to massive and widespread problems with voting integrity," and "there have been numerous indications that foreign governments including China and Pakistan, meddled in our election to install Joe Biden as president," continuing: "What are the consequences for traitors who meddled with our sacred democratic process and tried to steal power by taking away the voices of the American people? What happens to them? Well, in the past, America had a very good solution for dealing with such traitors: Execution...The bottom line is that no one is above the law. And let this be a warning to anyone who thinks they are. The consequences are clear. And those responsible will be brought to justice for their role in undermining America's democracy." Followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory shared video of the monologue, which buttressed their belief that a "storm" was coming in which Satan-worshiping pedophiles who oppose Trump would be rounded up and executed. [1][2]

  • Trump lost Arizona and its most populous county, Maricopa, in the 2020 election. Arizona Senate Republicans, holding the senate majority and led by Karen Fann, asserted possible fraud and hired private firms to conduct an audit of Maricopa balloting. OANN broadcast extensive coverage of the audit by "Cyber Ninjas", which was widely criticized across the political spectrum. Bobb and Rion formed a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization to raise funds for the effort, promoting it on the air. The audit ultimately found no proof of fraud, and that Biden's margin of victory was actually slightly higher. [1][2][3]

  • During the 2016 presidential campaign, OANN ran a special titled "Betrayal at Benghazi: The Cost of Hillary Clinton's Dereliction and Greed". Herring, the owner of the channel, sent his producers a report that falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton had a brain tumor, and asking them to check up on it. He also shared a report with producers claiming that Planned Parenthood had promoted abortion, and ordered them to minimize coverage of Pope Francis' U.S. visit thanks to the Pope's calls for action on climate change. Herring also repeatedly ordered his producers not to cover stories pertaining to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. [1]

  • Herring prohibited the network from running stories about polls that did not show Trump in the lead during the 2016 election. [1]

  • In August 2020, OANN tweeted a promotion for a television segment entitled "America Under Siege: The Attempt to Overthrow President Trump." The tweet asserted that ongoing demonstrations in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing constituted a "coup attempt" that was "led by a well funded network of anarchists trying to take down the President." Trump retweeted the message. [1]

  • In June 2020, during protests against racism and police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, OANN reporter Jack Posobiec falsely claimed that there were pipe bombs planted at the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C., and that "federal assets [were] in pursuit". There were no pipe bombs, nor is there any evidence that any "federal assets" pursued it. [1]

  • In June 2020, OANN claimed, without evidence, that an elderly protester who had been seriously injured by police "was attempting to capture the radio communications signature of Buffalo police officers," and was linked to the antifa movement. [1] Referencing OANN's unfounded conspiracy theory, Trump later tweeted that the protester "could be an ANTIFA provocateur." [2][3][4] OANN's Kristian Rouz provided no evidence for these claims, referring only to The Conservative Treehouse, an anonymously written right-wing blog. [5][6] That afternoon, Herring Sr. tweeted to Trump, "we won't let you down as your source for credible news!" [7] On June 13, protesters in San Diego, California gathered outside OANN headquarters, [8] where Herring Sr. challenged the crowd to prove the story was false. [9]

  • The OANN line on COVID-19 vaccines, as delivered by correspondent Pearson Sharp, is that the vaccines are “turning into DNA” to become “part of your body’s genetic code,” meaning that “there’s a good chance they could … kill you.” None of this is true, but in February, Sharp took these lies about vaccine mortality in a new direction, telling OANN viewers that the survival of the U.S. depended on COVID-19 vaccines killing liberals. Sharp also appeared on Infowars, where he hypothesized that COVID-19 restrictions could spark a justified revolution. [1]

  • In March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the OANN chief White House correspondent Chanel Rion promoted a conspiracy theory that the virus originated in a North Carolina lab, citing information from a "citizen investigator and a monitored source amongst a certain set of the DC intelligence community" who was actually a Twitter conspiracy theorist. [1][2] As she described this individual during a televised report from the White House grounds, an image was displayed of actor Keir Dullea in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. She also asserted that Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading expert on infectious diseases, had funded the creation of COVID-19. [3][4] Rion later claimed without evidence that other mainstream media outlets were parroting Communist Party of China propaganda. [5] During a press conference with Trump, she asked him whether it was "racist" to use the term "Chinese food"; accused "major left-wing news media" of "consistently siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals and Latin gangs and cartels" as well as "Chinese Communist Party narratives"; and asked the president whether it was "alarming" that the media can "work right here at the White House with direct access to you and your team?"[6][7][8]

  • Chanel Rion previously worked as a political cartoonist, promoted conspiracy theories about the murder of Seth Rich, praised a book by a Holocaust denier, and wrote an anti-feminist children's book. [1][2] Rion also claimed without evidence that former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe were involved in an affair, but OANN later retracted the story. [3]

  • In April 2020, Chanel Rion was expelled from the White House Correspondents' Association, and her formal seat was removed for flagrantly violating newly implemented social distancing rules in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. [1] Despite this, Rion has boasted she was personally invited to attend by the Trump White House's press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, a day after the ban. [2]

  • In May 2020, OANN host Liz Wheeler claimed without evidence that "mainstream media pretended there was a deadly surge in COVID cases" after the 2020 Wisconsin Spring election. PolitiFact rated the claim "Pants on Fire", having found that there were no references to a "surge" in their review of state and national articles about the election, and that reports had accurately listed the number of COVID-19 cases potentially related to the election. [1]

  • In November 2020, YouTube suspended OANN's channel's ability to upload videos for one week and demonetized its channel for violating YouTube's policy against promoting COVID-19 misinformation, after OANN uploaded a video advertising a fake cure for COVID-19. [1] OANN responded that "The video was 'unlisted' on YouTube for review by internal OAN staff only", accused YouTube of a First Amendment violation, and stated that the video was republished on the OANN website. [2]

  • In April 2018, while on an al-Assad regime-led tour of the area of the Douma chemical attack, an OANN correspondent claimed that there was no evidence that a chemical attack had occurred. The correspondent said, "Not one of the people that I spoke to in that neighborhood said that they had seen anything or heard anything about a chemical attack on that day," and that residents "loved Bashar al-Assad." [1]

  • In May 2019, OANN published a report claiming that the White Helmets had admitted to staging fake chemical weapons attacks intended to put blame on the Assad regime. OANN referred to the humanitarian organization, which is partly funded by the US State Department, as "terrorist-linked". The Daily Beast characterized this story as a "smear" that could be traced directly as Russian disinformation. [1]

  • After The Washington Post reported in November 2017 allegations that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore had made unwanted sexual advances toward teenagers when he was in his thirties, OANN "became a source of both positive coverage and stories that could cast doubt on his accusers." [1] In November 2017, OANN aired a segment citing a false rumor by an anonymous Twitter account that The Washington Post had offered $1,000 to Roy Moore's accusers. [2] OANN described the tweet as a "report", and described the tweeter as a "former Secret Service agent and Navy veteran". The Twitter source had a history of tweeting falsehoods and conspiracy theories, and the Twitter account had also made repeated and inconsistent lies about its identity, including appropriating the identity of a Navy serviceman who died in 2007. [3] After it was revealed that the story was a hoax, OANN did not retract its report. [4] During his Senate campaign, Roy Moore cited OANN when he defended himself against the accusations, [5] including an OANN story that alleged his "accusers have ties to drug dealers & Washington Post". [6][7] During the night of the Alabama Senate election, OANN announced that Moore had swept the election "by a large margin", when in actuality, Moore had lost the race. In its announcement, the network cited "unofficial polling", and the news anchor extended OANN CEO Robert Herring's congratulations to Moore on having run a "fine campaign." [8] OANN's website also published an erroneous article claiming that Moore had won "despite attacks from Democrats about unverified allegations." During the election night, OANN also reported "a number of people have been caught trying to sneak into voting booths and vote illegally"; however, Alabama Secretary of State's office said it had no credible reports of voter fraud. [9]

  • According to former and current employees at OANN, as well as internal e-mails, by July 2017, the executives had directed the channel to "scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage anti-abortion stories, minimize coverage of Russian aggression, and steer away from the new president's troubles." [1]

  • Far-right conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec was employed by OANN as a political correspondent from 2018 to 2021. [1] Posobiec was a prominent proponent of the Pizzagate and murder of Seth Rich conspiracy theories. [2][3][4] In September 2018, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Posobiec presented the pro-Hitler online poster known as Microchip on OANN without indicating that person's affiliations. The SPLC said the two men had worked together in spreading disinformation for several years, including the false claims propagated in Pizzagate. [5] In 2020, during the George Floyd protests in Buffalo, New York, Posobiec falsely reported and promoted another unsubstantiated conspiracy theory regarding pipe bombs. [6]

  • In April 2018, OANN ran a segment falsely claiming that a California bill would ban the sale of Bibles. Within 24 hours, the OANN video was viewed 1.4 million times on Facebook. Snopes determined that this claim was a misrepresentation; the bill actually targeted gay conversion therapy. [1]

  • OANN has run stories falsely claiming that George Soros, a Hungarian-born American philanthropist, collaborated with the Nazis when he was a 14-year-old. The network has also accused Soros of funding migrant caravans to the United States. [1] During a December 2019 report from Ukraine with Rudy Giuliani, OANN correspondent Chanel Rion claimed without evidence that Soros had shown up at the Kyiv airport with "human Dobermans in little black Mercedes" to find them. The claim was ridiculed in Ukrainian and American media. [2][3][4]

  • OANN supported the Trump administration's revocation of CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press credentials. Most major media outlets, including the conservative Fox News, opposed this decision. In a statement, Robert Herring attacked Fox News, saying he "can't believe Fox is on the other side." [1][2][3]

  • On January 12, 2020, an OANN broadcast promoted debunked conspiracy theories alleging illegal wiretapping of Trump. [1]

  • Rudy Giuliani has promoted conspiracy theories related to the Trump–Ukraine scandal on OANN. [1][2][3]

  • OANN has promoted conspiracy theories about the murder of Seth Rich. [1]

  • During the mid-term campaign for the November 2018 U.S. elections, OANN ran a segment claiming that Democratic congressional candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar's "father praised the deaths of the Israelis, saying they deserved to die." The Washington Post fact-checker noted that there is no attribution to this statement in the OANN segment. An OANN commentator also claimed that groups connected to the Muslim Brotherhood donated to Campa-Najjar's campaign and that the FEC website showed this. The Washington Post fact-checker said it "couldn't find evidence of this after searching Campa-Najjar's filings with the Federal Election Commission." Nevertheless, the OANN segment was used in attack ads by Campa-Najjar's Republican opponent Duncan Hunter to support the false suggestion that Campa-Najjar was tied to terrorism. [1]

  • In February 2018, one of the hosts on OANN tweeted a conspiracy theory that David Hogg, a 17-year-old survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, had been coached to speak against Trump by, and was "running cover" for, his retired FBI agent father. [1] Donald Trump Jr. "liked" the OANN host's tweet. [2] The younger Hogg responded, describing the conspiracy theory to Buzzfeed News as "immature, rude, and inhuman." [3]

  • In October 2017, the channel claimed without evidence that a "report" had been published that showed "U.K. Crime Rises 13% Annually Amid Spread of Radical Islamic Terror". [1] Trump later repeated this falsehood, suggesting that he learned of it from OANN. [2][3]

  • On March 18, 2021, OANN aired a segment which contained the phone number of New York Times reporter Rachel Abrams, who they claimed was "fishing for information" from disgruntled OANN employees for a "hit piece", and called on viewers to "stand up to intimidation by the left" by contacting Abrams. OANN also posted a tweet with the number on its Twitter account, which was deleted after more than 6 hours by Twitter for violating its rules on personal and private information. [1][2] On April 18, 2021, Abrams published an article in The New York Times, which cited interviews with current and former OANN employees stating that the channel had broadcast reports they considered to be "misleading, inaccurate or untrue", and that some employees were hoping the channel would be sued by Dominion Voting Systems. [3][4] Marty Golingan, one of the employees who was interviewed, was fired by OANN after the article was published. [5]

  • In 2005, Robert Herring "offered $1 million to Florida resident Michael Schiavo to give up hi right to decide the medical treatment of his brain-damaged wife, Terri Schiavo. [1]

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