California Gov. Gavin Newsom lashed out at what he called “Perhaps one of the great disinformation networks in America … One America News” for spreading “a lot of misinformation” about COVID. He did not stop there. He’s establishing the Office of Community Partnerships and Strategic Communications, which he called “a brand new unit in the state government. It’s a strategic partnership unit and a communications unit,” that Newsom said will also “support and amplify local and community-based partnerships” and work with trusted community voices to get the message out.
The right-wing cable channel One America News Network — which has spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the safety of coronavirus vaccines — will be dropped by one of its largest television distributors later this year. The decision by DirecTV, a satellite and streaming network with about 15 million subscribers, is a significant setback for One America News and its owners, the Herring family. Losing its slot on the DirecTV lineup will almost certainly diminish the network’s overall audience and cut into its annual revenue.
When Reuters, the global news agency, published its two-part investigation last week of OAN, the most startling finding was that AT&T indirectly provided 90% of the channel’s revenue, after letting it be known that it was eager to host a new conservative cable network. But just as noteworthy as AT&T’s involvement was the way Reuters’s John Shiffman pulled back the curtain on how the San Diego-based network operates.
As it lauded former President Donald Trump and spread his unfounded claims of election fraud, One America News Network saw its viewership jump. Reuters has uncovered how America’s telecom giant nurtured the news channel now at the center of a bitter national divide over politics and truth.
Erik Wemple: “The insertion of Congress into the contractual relationships of video providers with particular news/propaganda outlets is frightening. Asking questions is a protected activity, of course — one that lawmakers use all the time. Yet these questions feel a lot like coercion by government officials, an incursion into the cultural promise of the First Amendment.”
The suit by the family-owned conservative cable network alleges that Rachel Maddow’s comments on her July 22 show calling it “paid Russian propaganda” were retaliation after OAN’s president accused Comcast of censorship for refusing to carry the channel. The suit also names MSNBC, its parent and Comcast.