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Tag: oan

How Bad Were OAN’s Last Months On DirecTV? This Bad

  • As of April 5, DirecTV has removed One America News Network from its TV subscription packages.

In January, DirecTV announced that it would not renew its contract with the far-right conspiracy theory network. Although OAN provided years of virulent bigotry and right-wing misinformation, including one reporter’s on- and off-screen attempts to overturn the 2020 election, the announcement came after a massive public backlash to a Reuters report which revealed that DirecTV’s owner, AT&T, played a critical role in creating OAN and supplied 90% of its income.

Once news broke of its DirecTV contract expiration, OAN filed a breach of contract lawsuit against AT&T and briefly solicited viewers for “dirt” on AT&T’s board chair. Meanwhile, OAN programming has gotten worse since January, as the network doubled down on old staples like anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and lies about the 2020 election, as well as irresponsible coverage of new topics like the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Supreme Court nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The OAN 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 abject lies about vaccine mortality in a genocidal direction, telling OAN viewers that the survival of the United States depended on COVID-19 vaccines killing liberals. Sharp also appeared on Infowars, where he hypothesized that COVID-19 restrictions could spark a justified revolution.

Though she was not OAN’s only misinformer about the 2020 election, former host Christina Bobb became the network’s face of its attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. She fought for, reported on, and fundraised for the Arizona “audit,” and before she left OAN in March to work for former President Donald Trump, Bobb had begun a new phase of her pressure campaign against state-level Republicans to begin new “audits.”

OAN also attached its brand of unhinged conspiracy theories to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Multiple OAN figures have suggested or stated that the Russian attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, was what Sharp called a “false flag operation” connected to billionaire George Soros.

But few OAN personalities took as much of an interest in spreading misinformation about the war in Ukraine as prime-time host Dan Ball, who repeatedly spread Russian government propaganda about nonexistent “biochemical weapons plants” in Ukraine, and seems to fervently believe that the war somehow involves President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and the 2020 Trump campaign’s old, desperate allegations against Biden and a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma. In one segment about Ukraine, Ball even agreed with a guest that the U.S. military should invade and occupy northern Mexico because of immigration.

OAN also spent the past few weeks directing viewers’ ire toward Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. Like much of right-wing media, OAN is enthralled by the false narrative that Jackson “lets pedos out of jail early,” according to Ball, who also called the accomplished jurist “scum” based on this smear. OAN programming has called Jackson part of “the pedophilia problem that is currently happening in the left,” an unmistakable reference to QAnon lies (previously seen during the pre-QAnon Pizzagate era) that liberal elites participate in the systematic sexual exploitation of children.

In what may be OAN's waning days, as DirecTV essentially replaced it with Fox Nation and some of its more visible “talent” have fled the sinking ship, OAN launched its own streaming service in an attempt to stay alive. While subscriber numbers are not publicly known, it seems unlikely that “OANN Live” will make up for the financial loss of OAN’s DirecTV contract.

More importantly, OAN’s conduct since losing DirecTV -- suing its former carrier, spreading Russian propaganda, convincing viewers that not only will vaccines kill people but some of them have to die, to say nothing of its shockingly hateful anti-LGBTQ content -- should make it clear to any TV provider that this litigious, conspiratorial disaster of a channel is simply not worth the trouble.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Carlson Joins Far-Right Media To Push January 6 FBI Bomb Conspiracy

Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson and top right-wing media allies in his propaganda campaign claiming the January 6 insurrection was a false flag operation are now pushing a new set of conspiracy theories focused on the pipe bombs discovered that day outside both the Republican and Democratic national committee offices — which they want you to believe may have been planted by the FBI.

CNN and Politico reported this past January that Vice President Kamala Harris, then the vice president-elect, had to be evacuated from the DNC headquarters when a pipe bomb was discovered outside. CNN later added more to the story, revealing that Harris had been within yards of the bomb when she initially arrived at the building.

About a month after this news broke, Carlson and his compatriots in the January 6 Truth movement began to push back with unfounded conspiracies. Carlson insinuated the reports about the pipe bombs were false on the February 9 edition of his Fox show: “Now, everyone has assumed those bombs were planted by a Trump supporter. The media have told us that. But who was this person?”

During a more than eight-minute rant, Carlson suggested virtually every detail of the pipe bomb news was suspicious, including the placement of the bombs, the construction of the devices, and the facts of their discovery. He even implied it was suspicious that the bomb suspect had still not been caught. Furthermore, according to Carlson, there must be some crucial information that Kamala Harris hasn’t been talking about — and “this is not a conspiracy theory.”

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): What we can confirm is that Kamala Harris was not chased into danger on January 6 by insurrectionists. No, she was driven to danger by a government chauffeur. And then, critically, Kamala Harris hid that fact for more than a year. Why is that?

We have a right to know the answer to that question. It's not a conspiracy theory. It's an entirely legitimate question. Maybe someone could ask Kamala Harris.

Contrary to Carlson’s conspiracy theory, the FBI has publicly said that both bombs found at the DNC and RNC offices “were viable and could have been detonated, resulting in serious injury or death.” Carlson falsely claimed the bombs had been “designed to be found, not to explode” and misleadingly used quotes from police officials in 2021, who said that the bombs had potentially been meant to be a diversion to draw police away from the Capitol.

In Carlson’s telling, “the bomb couldn't have been the diversion that the Capitol Police Department said it was” unless the person planting it knew beforehand that Harris would be at the DNC. Carlson never mentioned, however, that a bomb was also found at the RNC office — a place Harris obviously would never have been in the first place — but such a fact would interfere with his own narrative. He also never acknowledged that the would-be bomber didn’t even need to have been targeting anyone specifically, and could simply have been targeting whichever people happened to be at either of those respective national headquarters that day.

A few days after Carlson delivered this monologue, his right-wing compatriot Julie Kelly published her own piece declaring the bombs were an FBI-perpetrated hoax. Her February 14 post to the right-wing website American Greatness declared “No one still trying to convince the public that two pipe bombs were planted near the Capitol in advance of January 6 can be believed.” Kelly’s post also dabbled in a number of other conspiracy theories that Carlson and his allies have pushed about January 6, including the purported involvement of Arizona man Ray Epps and claims that the storming of the Capitol involved a “still-unknown number of FBI informants.”

Kelly also appeared Wednesday, February 16 on One America News, where host Kara McKinney claimed “we have the makings of yet another hoax perpetrated by the FBI.” Kelly, in turn, falsely declared, “The FBI is not trustworthy. It is wholly an enforcement arm, a surveillance arm of the Democratic Party.”

Kelly had been working for months on this false-flag story. In November 2021, she wrote “So a fleet of bomb-squad trucks just happened to be on the east side of the Capitol complex, which happens to be the location of both the RNC and DNC headquarters, at exactly the same time a device is found?” (Emphasis in original.)

Keep in mind that such security services would have been in place near the Capitol, because there were certainly reasons for police to be on high alert for possible trouble on the date of January 6, a day that culminated in a mob of insurrectionists storming the Capitol to interrupt the presidential transition in an attempt to overthrow the government. Of course, the denial of this obvious fact is what the efforts by Carlson, Kelly, and key players on the far right is really all about. (And it’s also not any kind of magical coincidence that both the DNC and RNC normally have their offices right near the Capitol, which is the most obvious location for them in the first place.)

In the weeks in between the CNN and Politico reports, and then Carlson’s segment, Kelly posted a number of tweets about the bomb plotline, connecting it to what she falsely claims was a government-fomented breach of the Capitol.

Kelly also publicly applauded Carlson’s February 9 segment, and did some further promotion of the conspiracy theory in the days until her own post went live. For example, she seemingly branched out into yet another false-flag claim about an act of right-wing political violence from years ago — perhaps as a way of rhetorically planning ahead for any future arrest in the pipe bombs case:

screen grab



Cesar Sayoc is the so-called “MAGA Bomber,” who was arrested in October 2018 and pleaded guilty in March 2019 for sending mail bombs to a variety of liberal political figures including Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, multiple members of Congress, actor Robert De Niro, and the CNN offices in both Atlanta and New York City. At his sentencing, Sayoc attributed his crimes in part to mental illness and decades of steroid abuse, also describing his political obsession with then-President Donald Trump as “this new found fun drug.” Sayoc was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and currently has a projected release date in November 2035.

At the time of Sayoc’s arrest, a number of right-wing media figures spread claims that the entire incident had been a false flag, on the grounds that Sayoc’s van — which was covered in pro-Trump stickers — purportedly looked too new and not sufficiently worn down for him to have been a real Trump supporter.

Right-wing commentators like Kelly and Carlson are now going back to this familiar well, insisting that right-wing political violence is never genuine and must be an elaborate hoax.

DirecTV Blackout May Ruin Far-Right One America News Channel

By John Shiffman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The largest satellite provider in the United States said late Friday it will drop One America News, a move that could financially cripple the right-wing TV network known for fueling conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

The announcement by DirecTV, which is 70 percent owned by AT&T, comes three months after a Reuters investigation revealed that OAN’s founder testified that AT&T inspired him to create the network. Court testimony also showed that OAN receives nearly all of its revenue from DirecTV.

The Reuters report drew calls from some liberal groups for AT&T and DirecTV to drop OAN, a favorite of former President Donald Trump, because the network has become a key source of false claims about the election and COVID vaccinations.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden said COVID conspiracy theories are putting lives at risk. “I make a special appeal to social media companies and media outlets: Please deal with the misinformation and disinformation that’s on your shows,” Biden said. “It has to stop.”

OAN is owned by San Diego-based Herring Networks, a family of conservative tech entrepreneurs. CEO Robert Herring Sr did not respond to requests for comment by email and phone. In an interview with Reuters last year, he said his network provided an important voice. “If I think I’m right, I just go for it,” he said.

DirecTV, with approximately 15 million subscribers, is by far OAN’s largest carrier. According to testimony by OAN’s accountant reviewed by Reuters, DirecTV provided 90 percent of the conservative network’s revenue.

“We informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires,” DirecTV said in a statement.

The OAN-DirecTV contract is set to expire in the next several months. DirecTV began airing OAN in April 2017, a deal that began shortly after OAN and AT&T settled a lawsuit over alleged oral promises during negotiations.

On Twitter, some conservatives expressed outrage that DirecTV and AT&T planned to drop OAN. “Corporate Media is crushing what little dissent remains,” tweeted former Fox News host Lou Dobbs.

The pro-Trump right, however, has powerful outlets on television and online, including Fox News, the conservative cable news outlet founded by Rupert Murdoch.

Liberals cheered the news. NAACP President Derrick Johnson called it “a victory for us and the future of democracy.” In a statement, Johnson added: “At a time when we are seeing our rights infringed upon, OAN only seeks to create further division. … We must continually choose truth over lies and common sense over hysteria.”

The news also follows a lawsuit filed on December 23 by two Georgia election workers who accused OAN and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani of spreading false vote-rigging claims about them in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. The claims were debunked by state authorities. OAN has denied it has done anything wrong.

DirecTV did not elaborate on why it planned to drop OAN. Earlier, an AT&T spokesman said the company airs “many news channels that offer viewpoints across the political spectrum.”

The Reuters investigative report in October cited sworn statements in which OAN’s founder and his son testified that the inspiration for the conservative network came from AT&T executives.

“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” the elder Herring said during a 2019 deposition. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [left-wing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”

During a 2020 court proceeding, a transcript shows, an OAN lawyer told the court, “If Herring Networks, for instance, was to lose or not be renewed on DirecTV, the company would go out of business tomorrow.”

(Reporting by John Shiffman. Additional reporting by Jason Szep. Editing by Ronnie Greene)

Right-Wing Media Won’t Stop Lying About Afghan ‘Hanged’ From Chopper


Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Multiple right-wing media figures, outlets, and social media users falsely claimed that a viral video showing a man in Afghanistan suspended from a helicopter was an execution by the Taliban. Other footage of the flight showed the man alive and well, and reportedly he was attempting to fix a flag.

This narrative is just one example of multiple falsehoods spread by conservatives to attack President Joe Biden following his decision to withdraw U.S. military forces from Afghanistan.

As Media Matters previously wrote, Fox News host Sean Hannity aired the footage on the August 31 edition of Fox News' Hannity, falsely claiming it showed the Taliban dangling a hanged man from a Black Hawk helicopter in Afghanistan. But Hannity's claim had been debunked before his show aired.

Conservative media personalities and politicians — including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) — also repeated the false claim on Twitter, using it to criticize the Biden administration's decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Cruz later deleted his tweet, writing that the information in it "may be inaccurate."

A tweet by Rep. Jason Smith that reads "On the day that we see innocent people hanging from an American helicopter, the Biden Administration decides to pull out early leaving behind hundreds of Americans and even more innocents to die at the hands of the Taliban. It's unacceptable and heartbreaking."

A Fox anchor along with multiple contributors and guests have also engaged with the false claim, as have other right-wing cable channels like One America News Network and Newsmax, other media organizations and users on fringe social media platforms.

Fox News and Fox Business

  • On August 30, a day before Hannity himself pushed this lie, Hannity guest Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said that "we had a video today of one of our Blackhawk helicopters with somebody hanging from it as it moves through the sky."
  • Also on August 30, guest Elliot Ackerman said on The Ingraham Angle that "we just saw the Taliban flying a Blackhawk helicopter above Kandahar with a dead body hanging from its bottom."
  • On August 30, Fox Business guest Stephen Yates said: "We have today the Taliban hanging someone from a helicopter."
  • On August 31, Fox Business guest Sam Brown said, "We're seeing the reality of the Taliban now flying Blackhawk helicopters over Kabul, hanging their enemy."
  • Later the same day, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich said on The Five, "They are hanging people from our helicopters." Pavlich repeated this later in the show, saying the Taliban have "been using" weapons left behind "to execute our allies who helped us on the ground. … They hung a guy with a helicopter."
  • That evening, Fox Business anchor David Asman was discussing the helicopters U.S. forces left behind and said: "At least one was used yesterday in horrific fashion to hang a human being. We don't know the circumstances of that. We don't know who that person was that was hanging from the helicopter. But in one of the typically sick dimension of the way that these -- the Taliban think, or whoever was piloting that helicopter, that's how they used it."
  • And on September 1, Fox News contributor Charles Hurt said on Fox Business, "The image of our Blackhawk helicopter flying around Kabul with the body of what appears to be a dead person hanging from the bottom of it -- those images get seared into people's minds, and they never forget it."

Newsmax

  • On the August 31 edition of the morning show Wake Up America, Newsmax's Alex Kraemer showed and read a tweet claiming that the Taliban "are now hanging innocent civilians from [helicopters] for the world to see." Later in the show, co-host Rob Finnertysaid: "We saw someone hanging from a helicopter on video. This person was dead."
  • During Newsmax's August 31 midday show John Bachman Now, the host said there are "U.S. Blackhawks reportedly being flown by the Taliban with people hanging from them."
  • Later that day on American Agenda, Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield said the Taliban were "flying people hanging from Blackhawk helicopters yesterday." Later in the show, former Trump spokesperson Jason Miller referenced people in Kabul risking being "flown around the city hanging by their neck off of a helicopter."
  • On September 1, Finnerty repeated this lie on Wake Up America, saying: "We saw somebody hanging from a U.S. military helicopter over Kabul just a couple of days ago."

One America News Network

  • On August 31, the host of OAN's In Focus with Stephanie Hamill said: "There's video circulating online of them in an American helicopter with a man hanging by his neck off of the helicopter." Her guest, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), replied: "That's sick. That is sick."
  • Later on Real America, host Dan Ball previewed the video he claimed shows "the Taliban flying one of our Blackhawk choppers in Kandahar with a body hanging from it" with a long-winded warning about graphic content. He added: "Now, have we vetted it all out? Can I confirm it happened yesterday? I don't know when it happened. It's all over the web. It's from Kandahar. I can't read what that says, but we're getting this from multiple sources of folks that were there on the ground. They confirm it's one of our choppers, they confirm it's from Afghanistan. I don't know who's hanging there, but -- you want to see this stuff come over here? And I'm not trying to fearmonger one bit. I'm keeping it real, folks."

Other right-wing outlets and social media

  • On August 30, Gateway Pundit shared a screenshot of the video on its website along with tweets containing versions of the video, incorrectly claiming that "today the Islamists used US helicopters to hang 'traitors' in Kandahar Afghanistan" and argued that the Taliban was "openly mocking" the U.S.
  • On August 31, the New York Post published the video on its website along with an article that said "it is not immediately clear exactly how [the person in the video] is attached or if he is alive." The piece then quoted "some journalists" who it says "insisted that it showed someone who had been hanged — and then paraded in the skies."
  • The video of the helicopter and screenshots from the video also spread on several fringe right-wing social media platforms between August 30 and September 1, including Gab, 4chan, and Patriots.win. This content was also shared widely among right-wing users on the messaging app Telegram. Many of these posts criticized the Biden administration, with one Patriots.win user claiming, falsely, that the Taliban was "flying [a] Biden-provided Blackhawk helicopter…while hanging someone from it." This post quoted a tweet stating that "it's an absolute shitfest to see the Taliban now actually flying US BlackHawk helicopters, hanging people by the throat from them!! The American President will never be forgiven for this!!"
Research contributions from Leo Fernandez and Bobby Lewis

Stop Calling The Arizona Recount Charade An ‘Audit’

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Now in its seventh week, the pointless review of two million ballots in Maricopa County, Arizona's most populous outpost, has not only emerged as a dishonest, partisan circus, it's also a blueprint for how right-wing conspiracists want to treat future GOP election losses. Along the way, they're deliberately destroying faith in the democratic process.

As the "fraudits" spread to other states, and as it becomes clear that hard-core Republican fanatics will stop at nothing in their pursuit of overturning the 2020 election, it's imperative the press undertake a course correction and stop calling these partisan sham events "audits." They're not going away and the press needs a better, more exact way to describe them. By adopting GOP "audit" language, journalists are doing the right wing's bidding and undermining confidence in U.S. elections.

Once again, the GOP's radical and dangerous behavior in the age of Trump ought to prompt news outlets to change the language they use to cover American politics. There is no precedent for a former U.S. president to barnstorm the country insisting his election loss was fraudulent and claiming "Indians" were paid to vote in 2020. And there's no precedent for the mockery that's being made out of ballot-counting in Arizona, a charade that even local Republican election officials have dismissed as a "grift disguised as an audit."

The question is, how does the media cover the Grand Canyon State's slow-motion train wreck? By using "audit" without including qualifiers, such as "so-called," "alleged," or "absurd," the press lends an undeserved air of legitimacy to the clown proceedings. The language use becomes especially problematic when "audit" is deployed in headlines, which is what most people end up reading, instead of the body of the article. A New York Times front-page, print headline yesterday read, "Arizona's Vote Audit Is Scorned. Republicans Press On, Anyway."

On Twitter, Washington Post editors were promoting an article about "the national push by Trump allies to audit 2020 ballots." (The Post constantly refers to the disinformation campaign as an "audit.")

For casual news consumers, the assumption is that Republicans are simply conducting an audit of the votes, and may start doing them in other states. And what's wrong with an "audit," right? "Audit" sounds serious and precise.

By contrast, NPR took a smart approach with a recent headline, putting the word in quotation marks to signal the dubious nature of the Arizona sham: "Experts Call It A 'Clown Show' But Arizona 'Audit' Is A Disinformation Blueprint." And a recent CNN report referred to the Arizona effort as a "so-called audit" and a "partisan ballot review."

Another good description for the ongoing shenanigans might be an "unofficial review," since the ballot exercise carries no legal weight and cannot change the vote outcome. "Partisan inquisition" is also an accurate offering, as well as "boondoggle," "charade," "farce," and "sham." Using those terms means journalists would have to stand up to Republicans and not be afraid of "liberal media bias" cries that would certainly follow.

The truth is, "Most certified auditors contacted by The Arizona Republic, including accountants, internal auditors, and forensic auditors, say this is not an audit," the state's largest recently newspaper reported.

The ongoing process in the Southwest clearly fails to meet any of the standards required for official recounts or audits by state law. With financial support from My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell and a nonprofit set up by a reporter for One America News Network, which has been given exclusive access to livestream from the audit site, Arizona partisans have reportedly scanned ballots with UV lights to look for secret watermarks that fanatics think Trump's Department of Homeland Security placed on legitimate ballots to differentiate them from fake ones. They're also inspecting ballots for traces of bamboo to determine if they were snuck into to the country from Asia.

Note that a legitimate post-election audit of Maricopa County was conducted one week after last year's election. That is to say, a multiparty audit board conducted a hand count of ballots from a sample of randomly selected voting precincts and compared them with the results from voting machines. For Arizona's largest county, the audit uncovered not a single ballot discrepancy. The county also hired two separate, independent firms to perform a forensic audit of the voting equipment used and found nothing amiss.

What's happening in Arizona is not a recount, either. Recounts typically occur when there's an infinitesimal margin of victory, but Joe Biden won Arizona by 10,000 votes. "In the recount and audit space, 1,000 votes is, for all intents and purposes, a landslide," David Becker, the executive director of the nonpartisan nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research, told FiveThirtyEight. "A margin of 10,000 votes is an off-the-charts landslide" for a recount.

The Arizona ballot charade is a perfect example of conservative extremists trying to create their own reality and their own set of facts, and hoping the mainstream media helps them by adopting misleading language, like an Arizona "audit."

Kremlin Assets Aided Pro-Trump 2020 Documentary Featuring Caputo, Nunes

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Russian government proxies "helped produce a documentary that aired on a US television network" as part of the Kremlin's wide-ranging effort to influence the 2020 presidential election by falsely accusing President Joe Biden of corruption in Ukraine, the U.S. intelligence community revealed in a report Tuesday.

The report does not explicitly identify the documentary or network in question. But the timeline and subject matter match The Ukraine Hoax: Impeachment, Biden Cash, and Mass Murder, which the pro-Trump One America News Network aired in late January 2020. Former Trump aide Michael Caputo hosted that one-hour special, which featured separate interviews with a former Ukrainian official later sanctioned by the federal government for his role in a Russian influence operation and with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), at the time the chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

According to the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized Russian influence operations aimed at undermining Biden's campaign and supporting then-President Donald Trump during the 2020 election cycle. The report assesses that Russian intelligence services and their Ukraine-linked proxies -- including "Russian influence agent" Konstantin Kilimnik and Ukrainian legislator Andriy Derkach -- sought to use U.S. media outlets and prominent Americans to launder allegations of corrupt ties between Biden, his family, and Ukraine, and to falsely accuse Ukraine of interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

The report does not specify which Americans or media outlets were caught up in the Russian plot. But it's clear to anyone who followed political news in 2019 that the intelligence community is referencing Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani's anti-Biden disinformation campaign. Giuliani sought to bolster Trump's reelection by working with shady Ukrainians, some with links to Russia, to dig up dirt on Biden and then spread itthrough right-wing writer John Solomon, Fox News, and OAN. The effort blew up in Trump's face when the then-president's corrupt effort to pressure the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into the Bidens became public, triggering his first impeachment by the House of Representatives later that year.

According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as part of the effort by Kilimnik, Derkach, and their associates to use U.S. media outlets to damage Biden's political standing on behalf of the Russian government, the Russian proxies "helped produce a documentary that aired on a US television network in late January 2020."

That timeline matches the release of The Ukraine Hoax, which first aired on January 25, 2020. Moreover, the content of Caputo's film echoes the Kremlin-backed narratives described in the report, as well as other Russian government talking points.

OAN CEO Robert Herring Sr. described the special as "exactly what our One America News Investigates series is all about" in a press release announcing its premiere. That's undoubtedly true -- in keeping with his network's general aesthetic, The Ukraine Hoax is an hour of conspiracy theories united by slavish devotion to Trump. Caputo argues that Trump's impeachment is an unjust persecution that emerged from U.S. meddling in Ukraine, corrupt dealings by the Bidens, and joint efforts by Democrats and Ukrainians to stop Trump's election that resulted in Robert Mueller's special counsel probe. He concludes, "as Democrats pursue Trump, they're destroying America and Ukraine."

Caputo denied Russian government involvement in his film and said he had not talked to Derkach or Kilimnik, the proxies named in the report, in an interview with Mother Jones.

But Caputo's star interview is with Andrii Telizhenko, a former low-level Ukrainian diplomat and Giuliani ally who the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned in January for his role in a "Russia-linked foreign influence network associated with" Derkach.

Treasury's press release describes Telizhenko as a member of Derkach's "inner circle" and states that he participated in Derkach's disinformation campaign aimed at influencing the 2020 U.S. presidential election. According to the release, Telizhenko "orchestrated meetings between Derkach and U.S. persons to help propagate false claims concerning corruption in Ukraine." Telizhenko previously sought to distance himself from Derkach.

In his interview with Caputo for OAN, Telizhenko falsely claimed that the Ukrainian government, with the encouragement of the Obama administration, interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.


Telizhenko became a fixture in right-wing media circles for that allegation because it allowed Trump propagandists to argue that Clinton, and not Trump, had been the real beneficiary of foreign interference in the 2016 election. The intelligence community report released Tuesday describes the effort to "falsely blame Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election" as one of the aims of the Russian proxies.

The documentary also features an interview with then-House Intelligence Committee chairman Nunes. Nunes was one of several Trump allies that congressional Democrats said received materials from Derkach aimed at smearing Biden during the impeachment push.

In his interview, Nunes criticized pro-democracy organizations backed by American philanthropist George Soros, saying that they "have agendas" and that Soros "is extreme left-wing and he supports extreme left-wing causes." He apparently agreed with Caputo's claim that Soros was "building an extreme left-wing government" in Ukraine. Nunes also lashed out at "the Russia hoax," saying that "if people are not held accountable, you're going to have generations of Americans, part of the Republican Party, who will never trust the FBI, the Department of Justice, the CIA."

Elsewhere in the film, Caputo described the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, in which protesters ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, as a violent coup instigated by the U.S. government and Soros.


The description of the revolution as a U.S-backed coup echoes language used by Putin in defending Russia's invasion of Ukraine later that year, while the Russian presidentand Russian-backed governments have for years targeted Soros over his pro-democracy efforts.

Caputo also revived the false right-wing smear that as vice president, Biden improperly pushed the government of Ukraine to fire Viktor Shokin, the country's prosecutor general, to stop the investigation of a Ukrainian company and benefit his son Hunter Biden. The Ukraine Hoax includes clips from Shokin himself making that claim.

In fact, Shokin had been widely faulted by Western governments and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists for failing to prosecute corruption, including corruption by the company's founder; the probe had reportedly been "shelved" under Shokin; and his successor acknowledged that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. The intelligence community report appears to reference this false claim, stating that the Russian proxy network "sought to discredit the Obama administration by emphasizing accusations of corruption by US officials."

After producing a pro-Trump documentary, allegedly with Russian assistance, Caputo went on to bigger and better things. Less than three months after OAN aired his special, Caputo joined the Trump administration as assistant secretary for public affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services. He subsequently drew criticism for politicizing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about the coronavirus pandemic, and took a leave of absence after his Facebook video accusing CDC scientists of "sedition" became public.

In an interview promoting his special with OAN correspondent and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, Caputo bemoaned that some of the people he wanted to interview "ghosted" him during the filming process. But apparently he found help from other sources.

Ultra-Right One America Network Promotes Dominion Conspiracies Despite Lawsuit Threat

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

One American News, like Newsmax TV, has gone out of its way to promote the baseless conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump, not President-elect Joe Biden, really won the 2020 presidential election. Two companies that have been targeted by far-right election conspiracy theorists include Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, both of which specialize in election technology. And journalist Kelsey Vlamis, in an article published by Business Insider on Christmas Day 2020, reports that OAN has been doubling down on election conspiracy theories while being threatened with a defamation lawsuit by Dominion.

According to Vlamis, "In response to threats of a defamation lawsuit, the One America News Network is leaning further into some election conspiracy theories that the network has featured on its shows. Dominion Voting Systems previously sent OAN letters threatening to sue, accusing the network of spreading the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that the election technology company manipulated votes in favor of President-elect Joe Biden in the November general election."

Dominion, Vlamis notes, "asked the network to save any documents or correspondence related to Dominion." And OAN, according to Vlamis, "responded by requesting Dominion keep records of certain documents so the network can 'preserve its own claims and defenses in the event of litigation.' The conservative news network sent similar letters to Smartmatic, another election technology company."

Dominion has been a target of far-right attorney, conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter Sidney Powell, who made the baseless claim that Dominion's voting technology was used to help Biden steal the election just as it gave the late President Hugo Chávez an unfair advantage in Venezuela — and Dominion has responded that its technology has never even been used in that South American country. Dominion has filed a lawsuit against Trump's campaign and Powell.

In a late November press release, Dominion explained, "Dominion has no ties to the Venezuelan government, nor any other foreign government, including China and Iran. Dominion has never participated in any elections in Venezuela and has no connection or relationship with the now deceased former Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez. Other companies have serviced elections in Venezuela, but Dominion is not one of them."

On Christmas Eve Day, Vlamis reports, OAN asked Smartmatic to "save any correspondence between Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica and a number of individuals, including former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. The president's allies have also claimed, without evidence, that Smartmatic was working with the socialist Venezuelan government and Chávez, who died in 2013, to disrupt the U.S. presidential election."

Vlamis notes, "In addition to OAN, Dominion has sent letters to Fox News and Newsmax with threats to sue for defamation, as well as conservative media figures like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, among others."

Fox News And Far-Right Competitors In Brutal Competition For Trump Followers

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

At 11:20 p.m. on November 3, the Fox News Decision Desk called the state of Arizona for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. This, according to a New York Times report, sent President Donald Trump into a rage ahead of a 2:30 a.m. speech in the White House East Room, where he falsely claimed victory.

That Saturday, November 7, Fox News joined other mainstream national decision desks in calling the race for Biden. In doing so, the pro-Trump media organization inadvertently kicked off an ideological race to the bottom among right-wing media. To Trump and his supporters, Fox's call was a betrayal; to others in conservative media, it was a call to arms. With Trump virtually immune to criticism -- if the past few years have proved anything, it's that the president is seen as a sort of demigod among the far right -- the sharpest attacks in the wake of his electoral defeat were aimed at Fox News.

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