OAN, a trusted Trump backer, faces a ‘death blow’

The future of One America News, which established itself as a powerful voice in the conservative media by promoting some of the most outlandish falsehoods about the 2020 election, is in serious doubt as major broadcasters remove it from their programs and lawsuits over defamation threaten to drain your finances. .

By the end of this week, the cable network will have lost presence in some 20 million homes this year. The most recent blow came from Verizon, which will stop broadcasting OAN on its Fios television service starting Saturday. That will deprive the network of an important source of revenue: the fees it collects from Verizon, which has about 3.5 million cable subscribers. In April, AT&T’s DirecTV removed OAN, which has about 15 million subscribers.

OAN’s remaining audience will be small. The network will soon be available only to a few hundred thousand people who subscribe to smaller cable providers such as Frontier and GCI Liberty, said Scott Robson, senior research analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence. OAN also sells its programming directly to users through its OAN Live and KlowdTV streaming platforms, but those products are likely to provide a fraction of the revenue generated by traditional TV providers.

“I really think this is the deathblow for the network,” Robson said.

In its statement announcing the termination of its agreement with OAN, Verizon said only that it “had been unable to reach an agreement to continue broadcasting One America News,” and made no mention of the public pressure campaigns it faced from activist groups such as Media Matters, which it had been asking cable providers to drop the network. A company spokeswoman declined to comment further on Tuesday.

DirecTV also did not elaborate on its reasons for leaving OAN, saying in January that the move was part of a “routine internal review.” On Tuesday, the company referred to the January statement.

While OAN doesn’t have the clout that Fox News, the much larger, top-rated cable news network, wields, fees from its deals with Verizon and AT&T provided a substantial stream of revenue, about $36 million a year according to some. estimates. And once it’s gone from millions of TVs, OAN will be in a weaker bargaining position with advertisers: Fewer potential viewers are likely to mean fewer companies willing to pay as much to promote their wares on the network.

All of this comes at a particularly bad time for OAN, which is based in San Diego. The company and the Herring family that backs it are facing defamation lawsuits over the network’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald J. Trump.

That coverage featured wild stories about alleged plots to steal votes from Trump. Voting technology companies Smartmatic and Dominion are suing OAN over false claims that their machines allowed Trump’s enemies to switch votes cast by him to President Biden. A Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, is also suing the network. Mr. Coomer received death threats after the OAN named him in a report as an alleged collaborator with Antifa, the far-left movement.

Two Georgia poll workers sued the NAO for reporting they were part of an illegal plot to add fraudulent votes to President Biden’s totals in the state, which he narrowly won. OAN settled that case in April.

The cases are among a series of defamation lawsuits against conservative media outlets and Trump allies pending before judges across the country. Dominion and Smartmatic are also suing Newsmax, one of OAN’s competitors, and Fox News.

For OAN, the litigation has so far not gone well, as the judges have rebuffed its attempts to dismiss the cases. In one ruling, a judge concluded that OAN had acted “maliciously and knowingly” in perpetuating falsehoods about Dominion, and that its chief White House correspondent, Chanel Rion, had not exercised the slightest bit of journalistic scrutiny.

In her report, Ms. Rion quoted a conservative broadcaster and activist, Joe Oltmann, who claimed to have eavesdropped on an antifa conference call before the election, and reported that “antifa-soaked engineers are hell-bent on wiping out half of America’s Voice” and referred to Mr. Coomer.

Last year, Charles Herring, president of OAN owner Herring Networks, defended the coverage in comments to The New York Times, saying the network has a review process with multiple checks to ensure news coverage is up to par. of company standards.

“Based on our investigations, voter improprieties clearly occurred in the November 2020 election,” he said. “The real question is to what extent.”

Started in 2013 by Herring’s father, Robert Herring, a tech entrepreneur, OAN was for years a loosely watched right-wing cable network that spread stories about a Republican effort to impeach President Barack Obama and about Muslim Americans joining the state. Islamic.

The conservative takeover of Washington in 2017 breathed new life into it. That year, DirecTV reached an agreement to broadcast the channel and substantially expanded its potential audience. Trump warmed to the flattering coverage of him, lavishing the kind of praise he normally reserved for Fox News, calling OAN “a great network.”

OAN became not only a reliable provider of fawning coverage of Trump, but also a dogged persecutor of his political opponents. His willingness to twist the truth and give voice to conspiracy theories on a variety of topics (vaccines, covid-19, the identities of the protesters on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021) went beyond any of his competitors in the industry. Trump media sphere.

Mr. Trump rewarded network loyalty. In the summer of 2020, dissatisfied with what he considered to be insufficiently positive coverage on Fox News, he urged his followers to watch OAN and Newsmax, deeming them “much better!” He did it again after the election, when OAN correspondents were more willing than many Fox journalists to continue to lend credence to allegations of voter fraud.

More so than some of its competitors, OAN clung to the idea for months that the election remained unresolved. At times, the network acted as if Biden was not the president. The channel did not broadcast live coverage of his inauguration. In a report from late March 2021, one of his correspondents stated: “There are still serious questions about who the president really is.”

Now OAN is trying to shore up its audience. In recent days, an advertisement on its website offered new subscribers free access to its OAN Live service until October 31.

His anchors have portrayed his network’s dispute with Verizon as yet another attempt by a corporate media establishment to silence conservative voices.

One host, Dan Ball, recently implored viewers to call Verizon and demand that they continue OAN service. “Call that number. You want to tell them, ‘Keep OAN. Keep OAN,’” he said. “Verizon is the next one trying to censor One America News.”

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