Bridge Accident Conspiracy Theories Highlight Right-Wing Madness

Bridge Accident Conspiracy Theories Highlight Right-Wing Madness

Early in the morning on March 26, the container ship Dali crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, destroying the bridge and killing six construction workers. Investigations are ongoing, but authorities said early on that there was no sign that the collision was intentional. However, in the alternate universe of right-wing media, there’s no such thing as accidents.

In the days after the bridge collapse, many in right-wing media quickly embraced absurd conspiracy theories to explain what happened, blaming a “probable” cyberattack, the beginning of World War III, terrorism, the “New World Order,” and the “wide-open border.” Other conservative commentators morphed the tragedy into another casualty of corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion training, or “DEI” — the latest byword, following “woke” and “critical race theory,” for right-wing anger at people of color.

“They should’ve hired a more diverse workforce,” mocked one right-wing pundit, while others called the disaster “DEITANIC,” or claimed it was an inevitable consequence of immigration: “Invite the Third World, become the Third World.”

“DEI equals die, that’s what people need to understand,” announced Trump ally Laura Loomer, while Newsmax guest Victor Davis Hanson claimed, “we’re not hiring necessarily the best people.” DEI came up in the comments of several Republican politicians discussing the disaster, as well.

The unspoken conclusion of these baseless DEI complaints is that only white people can be competent in their jobs.

“They really want to say the N-word,” said Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, who is Black, in response to social media posts calling him a “DEI mayor.”

Earlier this year, right-wing media similarly scapegoated racial diversity in response to a series of in-flight incidents with Boeing aircraft, a company that has faced extensive criticism and federal investigations of its safety culture. Invoking right-wing complaints about DEI, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk said, “If I see a Black pilot, I’m going to be like, ‘Boy, I hope he’s qualified.’”

Now, conservative media are dismissing the obvious explanation for the Baltimore bridge collapse — a likely accident — in favor of asinine conspiracy theories about some of their favorite talking points.

“When trust is repeatedly broken,” complained Fox’s Laura Ingraham, defending the conspiracy theories, “it shouldn't surprise anyone that during a crisis, our leaders' explanations and assurances, as much as we want them, sometimes don't carry much weight.”

The preening about “trust,” from a conspiracy theorist herself, to defend the impossibly wide array of conspiracy theories about the Baltimore bridge collapse underscores the intellectual bankruptcy of right-wing media.

“The problem is that we have a D.C. establishment that has been wrong or misleading on issue after issue,” Ingraham continued, citing “the lab leak theory” about the origins of COVID-19, CDC guidance on masks, and school closures during the pandemic alongside vague insinuations about Hunter Biden's laptop and references to a Chinese spy balloon.

“Like all conspiracy theories,” said Donald Trump Jr., “they turn out to be right, you know, in the future.”

Given the countless conspiracy theories conservative outlets have pushed over the decades — the “Clinton body count,” birtherism, “Pizzagate,” the “great replacement,” and 2020 election misinformation, to name a very few — it’s little wonder that right-wing media explained yet another tragedy with a bunch of bullshit. Why let an opportunity to spread more noxious conspiracy theories go to waste when those theories are foundational to the right-wing media worldview?

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Who Is Being Touted By Right-Wing Media  As Trump's Running Mate?

Who Is Being Touted By Right-Wing Media As Trump's Running Mate?

As early as last summer, some of former President Donald Trump’s primary election competitors and other right-wing figures attracted a small amount of buzz as potential vice presidential picks, and now, with the Iowa caucuses approaching on January 15 -- another potential reminder of Trump’s presumed primary win -- the speculation begins anew.

Past rounds of the Trump veepstakes have floated some big names, like former Fox host Tucker Carlson, as well as known Trump acolytes like former local news anchor Kari Lake (who has since announced a U.S. Senate run instead). Longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon even mentioned the conspiracy theorist and retired Gen. Mike Flynn as a possibility. The latest round is similarly combing the right-wing airwaves for known Trump allies who could fit the presumed mold.

Dr. Ben Carson

On January 3, Newsmax contributor Mercedes Schlapp told Newsmax host Eric Bolling that Trump should choose a “loyalist … someone who’s not worried about the 2028 election,” a clear shot at all of Trump’s 2024 competitors.

Schlapp suggested Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or retired surgeon Dr. Ben Carson, prompting her fellow panelist Sebastian Gorka to scream over her, “Yes! No, no! You’re stealing my thunder!”

“Ben Carson. Ben Carson all the way,” Gorka added, “and he’s a loyalist and he’s a patriot.”

According to a November Newsweek article, hype around a potential Carson nomination began with an anonymous X account, which “claimed … that a source close to Trump said Carson—who was the only Black member of Trump's cabinet—is the leading frontrunner for his vice president.” Carson, a former Trump cabinet member and apparent 2024 campaign surrogate, did not respond to Newsweek’s request for comment.

Rep. Byron Donalds

Donalds, a second term U.S. representative, is a prominent Black Republican guest on right-wing media and has historically been a frequent subject of Trump VP speculation. Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk floated the possible candidacy while asking viewers to tell him their preferred Trump VP pick.

“I just love the idea of the Donalds,” he fantasized. “Donald Trump, Byron Donalds, two alpha males. Boom! It’d be great.” (Kirk also briefly mentioned Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.)

A Vice President Donalds was also floated by Gorka and Schlapp on Newsmax, prompting Bolling to ask the congressman about it in a subsequent interview. “Congressman, you are the man of the hour. You know, shortlist has you on almost every single shortlist.”

Rep. Donalds gave a fairly standard nonanswer; after saying that he and Trump have not discussed the possibility, he loyally added that he’s “just committed to making sure we get him back in the White House. However that looks, I’m all for it.” In November, Donalds said that he would be Trump’s running mate if he was invited to join the ticket.

Gov. Kristi Noem

Noem, the Republican governor of South Dakota, is another frequent subject of the 2024 Trump veepstakes, and on January 3, Bolling told his Donalds-cheering panelists, “You’re wrong. I just -- I know it's Kristi Noem. She was on the show last night.”

The interview with Noem -- who, like Donalds, also has a large national profile thanks to right-wing media -- did not shed much specific light on her VP odds. Bolling congratulated himself for being “one of the first people who said you would be the perfect one,” and said that Noem has “got it going on” for the position over Carson. “Any more words? You wanna break it here by chance?”

Like Donalds, Noem demurred, saying that Trump should “pick whoever will help him win” -- and that that person was not former Ambassador Nikki Haley, already a despised figure in Trumpworld. However, even if Trump picked Haley for vice president, Noem said she would still support the ticket because “he’s still the president, and the president still makes the decisions.” With that, Noem once again passed what is likely Trump’s most important qualification for a vice presidential nominee: loyalty.

Trump’s 2024 primary rivals

Conventional wisdom may suggest that the winner of a presidential primary would consider one of their defeated competitors. But Trump, a man obsessed with personal loyalty, may be unlikely to select anyone who attempted to snatch the GOP nomination from his grasp.

At a September rally, Trump suggested as much: “They’ll do anything: secretary of something, they even say VP,” he derisively said of the field. “Has anyone seen a VP in that group? I don’t think so.”

Trump’s rejection of the field is closely mirrored by pro-Trump media’s record of attacks against some of the primary candidates, notably including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Although the two were once politically close -- Trump’s 2018 endorsement carried DeSantis into the governor’s mansion in the first place -- they are now at bitter odds, ever since DeSantis first appeared to be challenging Trump for the nomination and media buzz (prominently including from Fox) suggested that the governor may actually beat him.

Trump media allies began calling DeSantis disloyal to the former president, as the Trump campaign aired humiliating ads about the governor’s purported personal habits.

Haley, who was also a Trump administration appointee, is another conventional possibility, though she is a non-starter for many of Trump’s closest media allies. Podcaster Steve Bannon has pushed a theory that the Republican establishment is trying to “force” Haley onto the ticket at the convention, to “allow her to try to run the administration from number two.”

Somewhat echoing Bannon, Donald Trump Jr. recently said that “I wouldn’t have her” as vice president, “and I would go to great lengths to make sure that doesn’t happen. … She’s a puppet of the establishment in Washington, D.C.”

A recent USA Today poll asked likely GOP voters for their preferred Trump vice presidential nominee. And although several of Trump’s primary competitors were named, the single biggest vote-getter, at 55%, was no answer, suggesting that voters “seem ready to leave the decision up to Trump.”

The same is likely true of right-wing media, an ecosystem thoroughly dominated by Trumpism for nearly a decade. Although there is some buzz about particular individuals, most of conservative media will embrace whomever Trump ultimately selects.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Trump Pundits Line Up Against 'Poisonous' Nikki Haley And Koch Network

Trump Pundits Line Up Against 'Poisonous' Nikki Haley And Koch Network

On Tuesday, Americans for Prosperity, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit founded by billionaire industrialists Charles and the late David Koch, endorsed former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley for president. The endorsement, AFP’s first in a Republican primary, comes amid consistent media chatter that Haley has surpassed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the preeminent GOP challenger to former President Donald Trump.

An array of right-wing media voices took the news as an attempt by Haley to buy her way into the Republican nomination, with a GOP establishment funding her campaign in a last attempt to thwart Trump.

These voices claim that Haley may also be attempting to stay in the race until the GOP convention, maintaining just enough support to broker her way into a vice presidential nomination. In this way, they suggest, Haley could secretly “run” the White House as vice president — a Koch network Trojan horse for a second Trump administration.

On Donald Trump Jr.’s podcast Triggered, Steve Bannon, a major Trump ally, put this theory plainly: Fox News and the Republican establishment want to “consolidate that 15 percent of Republican voters” who are anti-Trump “around a Nikki Haley-type and drive it all the way through the primary process."

“And then in July of 2024, force Nikki Haley onto the ticket as Trump's running mate and allow her to try to run the administration from number two,” Bannon warned. “Now that’s not going to happen, but that’s their plan.”

Claiming that Fox wants to “clear the field for Nikki Haley,” Bannon told Trump’s adult son, “She's absolutely poisonous, and as you know, she's more ambitious than Lucifer.”

“Imagine how much motherfucking would go on if it was Nikki Haley and her team,” Trump Jr. responded, “What they'd be trying to do to Trump behind his back from literally like first second, like to position herself for 2028? Listen, hey, that would be brutal.”

After lamenting that “the better of the two” Koch brothers died in 2019, Westwood One radio host Mark Levin said that “Nikki Haley wants to buy her way into the presidency” with Koch money, even though voters won’t support her because she is “George W. Bush in a dress.”

Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk — seeming to make a point of using the Indian-American Haley’s given first name Nimarata — told his audience that “the Koch network has now officially selected their candidate and declared war on many of you.”

“This is a salvo directed at you — at the populist, nationalist, muscular class movement of everyday Americans that want their country back.” The Koch network, he argued, wants “something else, and Nikki Haley is the vessel that they are going to use to do it. … The globalists, they are mounting their last stand.”

Indignant that “these oligarchs are telling you in the grassroots who has a chance to win,” Kirk declared that AFP’s support “has certainly disqualified Haley from becoming vice president.”

“Invade the world, invite the world, neoconservative extraordinaire,” he said, dismissing her candidacy.

Like other candidates previously hyped as Trump alternatives, there are claims that Haley is being pushed on voters by Fox News. “For some reason Fox has anointed her as their next one,” Newsmax host Eric Bolling told DeSantis in an interview. “I think you were the first one out of the box, and they seem to have moved the program to Nikki Haley.”

Bolling also claimed that Haley will no longer appear on his show “because I did call her out for that censorship,” referencing her walked-back support for a hypothetical law banning anonymous social media accounts.

Later, after JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said that Democrats should help Haley in the GOP primary, Bolling said that the quasi-endorsement “kind of blows me,” because “she ain’t going to win.” Bolling, a former commodities trader, added that “Wall Street has gone with the losers,” referencing the finance industry’s support for 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

On Fox News, in a segment discussing a “huge disconnect” between Republican voters who love Trump and Republican donors who have “moved on” from him, former White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley summarized the mood that some in right-wing media hope to encourage.

“The Koch brothers’ endorsement situation, it used to be powerful. Now it's more painful. Amongst the Republican electorate, it's kind of making her a pariah. They don’t embrace that anymore.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Trump and DeSantis

Right-Wing Media Declare DeSantis Presidential Campaign Is Already Dead (VIDEO)

Media figures say “the inadvertent martyrdom” in Manhattan criminal court “just made Donald Trump the nominee”.

The 34 felony counts faced by former President Donald Trump in New York mark a historic moment for the U.S., and, according to some in right-wing media, the end of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presumed campaign for the 2024 Republican nomination.

Since 2018, DeSantis had been a darling of the broader conservative movement, after barely winning the governor’s race with Trump's endorsement. Hype for a potential presidential campaign eventually followed, as media began to discuss him as a successor to Trump. But once DeSantis began to emerge as a potential challenger to Trump, the former heir apparent began a relative fall from grace.

And now that Trump is facing nearly three dozen felonies related to his alleged hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, the alternate universe of right-wing media has even more supposed evidence that Trump is a victim of a never-ending witch hunt by the radical Democrats. It may prove difficult for DeSantis to win over primary voters who, “as a screw you” to the Democrats, “start wanting to support Donald Trump."

“The flood of support continues to pour in for President Donald Trump,” reported OAN’s Daniel Baldwin on Monday. Baldwin noted that Trump raised millions of dollars and recruited thousands of volunteers -- and polled 30 points ahead of DeSantis post-indictment -- “suggesting the American people are rallying behind the 45th president.”

Right-wing commentator Steven Crowder commented that Trump’s criminal case is so “unprecedented when you’re talking about modern American history” that it could outrage the Republican base into supporting Trump as the nominee: “For me, it’s like, as a screw you, now I start wanting to support Donald Trump. It’s like, I want him to be the candidate.”

Describing the criminal case as “the inadvertent martyrdom of Donald Trump,” right-wing influencer Russell Brand claimed that the felony charges do not reflect “genuine concern about illegitimate action,” but “obviously an attempt to derail Trump’s ongoing successful campaign where, astonishingly, he’s up to 30 points ahead of Ron DeSantis,” despite the governor being “something of a darling” for conservatives generally.

With Trump popularly understood in conservative circles as a victim of Democratic judicial tyranny, his footing in the primary is strong enough that some right-wing media voices are wondering why DeSantis would even announce a campaign.

“President Trump has surged in the polls,” boasted Karoline Leavitt, a former assistant press secretary in the Trump administration, speaking on a Newsmax panel. “National polls have him 30 points ahead of his next contender, Gov. Ron DeSantis, who, frankly, shouldn't even run at this point for the presidency.”

Leavitt’s dismissal of DeSantis drew ire from the panel, but she doubled down: “If you want to run, you should run to win, and Gov. Ron DeSantis is going to be running to lose.”

Newsmax host Rob Schmitt summed up the mood on April 5, with a clip of Fox host Mark Levin, whom Schmitt described as “leaning toward DeSantis until he saw what’s happening to Donald Trump.” In the clip, Levin yelled that “at this time, at this moment, with these American Marxist movements taking over … he’s the guy” to “fight back” against the left. Schmitt concluded that “this moment is endearing a lot of the Republican base back to Donald Trump.”

As my colleague Matt Gertz has noted, conservatives believe that any attack on Trump is an attack on his voters, because conservative media and Trump himself have said as much for years. It stands to reason that the effect would be strongest at the current apex of Trump’s legal vulnerability, and may only grow stronger as other, more serious cases against him advance.

One of Schmitt’s guests, longtime right-wing commentator and CPAC chief Matt Schlapp, confirmed the bad news for DeSantis’ campaign with a quote from one of the governor’s unnamed supporters: “I think yesterday just made Donald Trump the nominee.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Ron DeSantis

With Extradition Statement, DeSantis Grovels Like A Trump Cultist

Amid the historic indictment of former President Donald Trump on March 30, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s presumed rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, declared that “Florida will not assist in an extradition request” to send Trump to New York to face trial — exactly what Trump’s media allies called for him to say nearly two weeks earlier.

On March 20, during a statement broadly denouncing the investigation by “Soros-funded” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, DeSantis included a tepid criticism of Trump — “I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair” — and said that he wouldn’t get involved “in any way,” preferring to focus on “real issues” instead.

Trump allies quickly became unhinged at the governor’s perceived betrayal.

Among the comments labeling DeSantis a weak-willed “weasel,” numerous figures in pro-Trump media specifically called for the governor to block Trump’s extradition from his home in Florida:

Conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich even offered a sample statement for DeSantis to issue, which hit many of the points that appeared in the governor’s actual statement 12 days later.

DeSantis bent the knee to Trumpworld and defended his primary rival for the Republican nomination at what should have been a vulnerable moment, seemingly undermining his own potential 2024 campaign. And some of Trump’s supporters still said that DeSantis should have been tougher.

Adding to the pathetic nature of the governor’s display, a Trump attorney told NBC News that the former president will surrender himself to authorities in New York next week. There will seemingly be no extradition process over which DeSantis can peacock.

Ron DeSantis caving to the demands of Trumpist media is another example of the impossible bind the governor is in, and the suffocating power Trump and his media allies still hold over Republican politics.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Roger Stone

Roger Stone Warns Trump Will Beat 'Cold Fish' DeSantis 'Like A Drum' (VIDEO)

Longtime Trump ally Roger Stone appeared on The Lindell Report, a nightly webcast from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and his co-host Brannon Howse, in part to discuss Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ undeclared campaign for president on March 22. Stone denounced DeSantis’ “globalist money” and lack of “the common touch,” predicting that the “cold fish who doesn’t like people” would meet his political end for stepping to Trump.

Although Trump has been the Republican Party’s presumptive 2024 nominee since losing the 2020 election, rumors have swirled about DeSantis running for president for months, prompting waves of criticism from the former president and his media allies. DeSantis largely avoided responding, until his recent mockery of Trump’s hush money payment to a former porn actor and later his March 22 interview with Fox’s Piers Morgan, in which he essentially called Trump a chaotic leader with many character failings.

Stone came on Lindell’s show and responded to DeSantis’ comments: “Gee Governor, you didn't seem to care much about his moral character when he endorsed you for governor and thus -- and therefore gave you a one-way ticket to the Republican nomination, … because in all honesty, Ron DeSantis is a cold fish who doesn’t like people.”

Later in the interview, Stone speculated that DeSantis might avoid interacting with people because he is “on the spectrum”: “He does not have the common touch. I don’t know if he is an introvert in an extrovert’s business, whether he may be on the spectrum, I don’t know. But he’s a very odd fellow. … He wears earbuds so he can avoid human contact, so people don’t speak to him. At rallies he doesn’t press the flesh. All of those rituals of politics that Donald Trump seems to love, because I think Trump gets strength from people, the governor doesn’t seem to like to do.”

Stone also attacked DeSantis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “When you examine what you think he did in Florida, and what he actually did in Florida, people will find out they’re two different things.” He complained that despite DeSantis’ reputation for opposing mask mandates in schools, “he left it up to each county, and the seven largest counties in Florida refused to comply with the governor’s order, and 3.6 million schoolchildren were still required to wear masks long after the governor was in Las Vegas saying the Florida school system was mask-free.”

Stone declared that DeSantis “made perhaps the greatest single error I’ve ever seen in 43 years in American politics by attacking Donald Trump” with his Fox interview, because “the people who like DeSantis like him because they think he is like Trump.” Denouncing his support from establishment Republicans and “globalist money,” Stone said DeSantis “talks a better game than reality,” but “if he runs, Trump will beat him like a drum, and it’ll be the end of Ron’s political career.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Ron DeSantis

Trump Allies Blasting DeSantis Over Remarks On 'Porn Star Hush Money'

On March 20, presumed presidential candidate and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis responded to a question about former President Donald Trump’s potential indictment with common conservative messaging, saying the Manhattan district attorney involved is a “Soros-funded prosecutor” who is imposing “a political agenda on society.” But some of DeSantis’ other commentary lit pro-Trump media up in fury.

In the middle of attacking Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, DeSantis also said, “Look, I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair." DeSantis’ drive-by comment, about the reason Trump is rumored to be facing indictment, echoes years of liberal and mainstream criticism of Trump. He also indicated that he would not get involved in the potential indictment “in any way,” saying that he was instead focused on “real issues.”

The governor’s commentary led to a flood of Trump supporters condemning his “catastrophic miscalculation” and “pure weakness.”

Although some of these pro-Trump voices still express appreciation for DeSantis, his comments have fueled the growing sense in some right-wing media circles that “he is establishment and will be a major disappointment to those who think otherwise.” The response to DeSantis' comments is more proof that media allies of Trump and DeSantis are moving toward open war.

    • On Real America's Voice’s War Room, host Steve Bannon and radio host John Fredericksattacked DeSantis for his comments, with Bannon claiming it was “not an acceptable response” and Fredericks calling DeSantis’ statement “one of the most unbelievable, feckless, weasel, consultant-driven responses in a crisis you've ever heard.”
    • On Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. took particular offense to DeSantis claiming the possible indictment is not a “real issue” and called his comments “pure weakness,” claiming the governor is “totally owned by Karl Rove, Paul Ryan & his billionaire donors.”
    • Trump’s other son, Eric Trump, also took to Twitter to claim that when “they do the exact same thing to him, his friends and his family,” DeSantis will “neither have the backbone, nor the resources” to defend himself against the “corrupt system.” He also said DeSantis is “not the guy I thought he was.”
    • Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiecshared a video of the comments, highlighting DeSantis’ pledge to not get involved with the investigation. Posobiec also tweeted “Et tu, Brute?” seemingly in reference to DeSantis’ comments.
    • After wishing DeSantis well, far-right troll Mike Cernovichcalled the speech a “catastrophic miscalculation” that was “disappointing to me.” Cernovich claimed the incident would make it “easier for me to remain objective” moving forward in the 2024 presidential race.
    • Daily Wire host Candace Owensclaimed on Twitter that the Florida governor's supporters “saw things in DeSantis that were never there.” In another tweet, Owens praised DeSantis for handling COVID-19 “correctly and bravely” but said he is “not America first.”
    • Blaze Media host Steve Deacetweeted a short essay that called DeSantis “the best and most successful GOP politician of modern times” but also relayed his hope that DeSantis makes a stronger statement backing Trump.
    • Failed Republican House candidate and anti-Muslim troll Laura Loomerclaimed DeSantis mocked Trump by stating he “doesn’t know much about paying porn stars off” and used the barb to address DeSantis’ supposed “shorter prison sentences for Child porn crimes.”
    • Conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souzatweeted his disappointment about the back-and-forth attacks between Trump and DeSantis and claimed DeSantis should have realized the Trump investigation and possible arrest “has NOTHING to do with paying off a porn star.”
    • Daily Wire host Matt Walshcalled the statement from DeSantis “not good.” Walsh called his decision to not back Trump more forcefully in light of the potential indictment an “unforced error here.”
    • Revolver News owner Darren Beattieimplied that DeSantis’ statement showed he is lacking “good political instincts.” Beattie said about the comments, “This is bad.”
    • Right-wing activist Raheem Kassamtweeted “Woooooow” about DeSantis suggesting the potential arrest is “not a ‘real issue.’”

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    One America Network’s Shameful Last Days On National TV

    One America Network’s Shameful Last Days On National TV

    On July 21, Verizon followed in DirecTV’s footsteps and announced it would not be renewing its contract with the far-right conspiracy theory network One America News. Having learned nothing from its catastrophic response to DirecTV, OAN denounced Verizon and encouraged viewers to harass and boycott the “radical Marxist corporation.” And since then, OAN has only further proved its worthlessness.

    Without a major carrier, OAN remains focused on national issues like a fear of roving transgender gangs harassing conservatives, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s support for gay men who flash “their genitals to little boys and girls” (she appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race -- a show with no children -- two years ago), and Verizon’s “censorship” of OAN.

    Before OAN was officially kicked off national television, however, the network spent its last week much like the years before, warning viewers of “Fauci-funded bioweapons” unleashed against the people, hand-wringing over billionaires “pushing the transgender issue,” speculating about gay men with monkeypox sexually assaulting children, lamenting the need for a literal war against drug cartels, and discussing the left’s grand plot to steal the 2022 midterms, beginning with the “Marxist censorship” of OAN and other right-wing voices.

    Prior to the drop, Pearson Sharp, Infowars’ favorite OAN correspondent, delivered one more report about the “predator class” using COVID-19 vaccines to “depopulate the world” by 15 percent.

    “They want to kill off the useless people, as they call us,” Sharp ominously said. “And you can already see it happening. … We know these vaccines are hardest on the elderly, so it makes perfect sense that the Bolsheviks in our government would want to wipe out as many retired Americans as possible. Can’t pay Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security if people are dead, don’t you know?”

    “These Fauci-funded bioweapons,” Sharp warned, “are products of a rogue globalist government that hates America and hates its citizens, and is doing everything in its power to wipe us out. This is corporate domestic bioterrorism, plain and simple,” and “the predator class in Washington” which is “responsible for this genocide” must pay the price.

    OAN’s final days of national carriage also targeted LGBTQ people with bigoted nonsense. For making investments in transgender issues and “quote-unquote, ‘gender care,’” Tipping Point host Kara McKinney labeled Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his cousin, Jennifer -- whom McKinney also deadnamed and misgendered -- “two prime examples of transhumanists trying to play God by reshaping the world through technology.” McKinney said the Pritzkers are an example of billionaires who are “ really pushing the transgender issue” alongside Big Pharma, which she said sees it as “another potential moneymaker” as “COVID starts to wind down at least somewhat.”

    Before inisting that he did not want to sound homophobic, Real America’s Ball took news of multiple children testing positive for monkeypox as a potential sign that they had been sexually assaulted by gay men. “How does a kid in Washington, D.C., and a kid in California -- we’re talking toddlers -- get monkeypox if it’s barely ever transmitted through just touching the skin,” Ball asked, exactly describing monkeypox transmission, “because otherwise, you know where I’m going with this.”

    Ball’s guest, the anti-COVID-19 vaccine Dr. Brian Tyson, replied that he believed that both children “came from a gay relationship family, or had contact with somebody in the gay community, and I think that that’s really where we’re going with this.” Speculating that one child may be undocumented, Tyson said, “Who knows what’s happened to that kid. And we see bad things happen to kids all the time in those situations.”

    “That’s what I’m saying. That’s where I’m going with it,” Ball replied, talking over Tyson’s hedge that “it’s a little too early to draw conclusions on that.”

    Speaking of Ball and children, the Real America host also spent part of his last week on national television encouraging parents to hit their children for misbehaving. After a guest blamed “psychotropic drugs” and other “externalities” for mass shootings, Ball suggested parents should ignore medical treatments for behavior problems and just hit them instead.

    “We can’t say enough about what we’re doing to our children, folks. The next time you take your kid who you think’s a little bit hyper, or a little bit despondent, or a little bit sidetracked in the classroom, don’t feed him drugs.” Ball continued, “I’m of a different age … and when they said, 'Dan's hyperactive. Dan won't sit still in class. Dan won’t shut his mouth,' nobody said, 'Pump Dan full of drugs' 40 years ago when I was seven or eight. You know what they did? They cracked me one and then I got in line."

    In its final days of national carriage, OAN also called for military action against drug cartels. With no concern for the possibility of starting a war with Mexico, or U.S. airstrikes on U.S. soil, host Addison Smith called for “using the unfathomable power and strength of our military to deal with Mexican drug cartels” and compared the would-be war to ongoing U.S. special operations and drone campaigns.

    “The Mexican drug operation is one of, if not the, biggest threat to this nation right now,” Smith warned. “If our United States military has a job to deal with any group, that should be target number one, and we could do it very easily.” His guest, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX), agreed that the U.S. should “use every means necessary to secure our southern border, to protect the American people against the Mexican drug cartels.”

    OAN’s final days on national television were a shameful mess of the vitriol and dangerous conspiracy theories it is known for, down to the network’s explanation of why it was leaving Verizon. According to Sharp, “there’s no chance in hell” Democrats will allow Republicans to win control of Congress in November, so they will cheat as they did in 2020, “and the process starts, of course with a massive, widespread, coordinated campaign of censorship,” which naturally included DirecTV and Verizon dumping OAN.

    “It's essentially institutionalized discrimination,” Sharp complained as his network’s time ran out. “It’s appalling to think that the criminals in Washington are colluding with the criminals in the media to prevent you, the American people, from figuring out just how much of the Constitution they're willing to shred to stay in power.”

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Verizon Drops Far-Right One America News From Cable Network

    Verizon Drops Far-Right One America News From Cable Network

    On Thursday, The Daily Beastreported that Verizon was “unable to reach an agreement” with Herring Networks, the parent company of One America News, and that OAN will be “removed from the Fios TV lineup” on July 31.

    In recent weeks, One America News Network has lobbed attacks at Verizon, one of its last remaining carriers, for “silencing conservative voices” and “engaging in censorship” against OAN. This wave of attacks came into clearer focus when Verizon publicly revealed that its contract with Herring Networks, OAN’s parent company, expires on July 30.

    The “content update” for customers on Verizon’s website states that “sometimes broadcasters and cable networks demand unacceptable price increases,” implying that the issue is Herring Networks charging Verizon more money than its channels are worth -- which is not much.

    And in a message dated July 15, Verizon alerted Fios customers that starting soon, the provider would be offering OAN and Herring's A Wealth of Entertainment, (AWE) “to those Fios TV customers who want to watch them and are willing to pay for them” -- suggesting the channels might soon be available only as premium subscriptions.

    Whether the issue is financial or otherwise, Verizon is right to balk at renewing the contract to carry an extremist, increasingly hateful, and anti-democracy network. OAN has shown a zeal unlike any other self-styled news organization for fighting the results of the 2020 election, including involving itself in the Trump campaign’s fake electors scheme and state election “audits,” as well as issuing calls for treason trials and mass executions of media and Democratic Party leadership.

    OAN also manages to stand out among right-wing cable networks for its viciously anti-LGBTQ commentary, labeling LGBTQ people and their allies -- especially transgender people -- as pedophiles “satisfying their own warped perversions” and also “canceling reproduction” for “population control.” Said one guest, “We need to start really going after these people and really punishing them.”

    As Verizon’s contract with OAN is coming to a close, the network is still staking out the only negotiating position it seems to know and one that worked so well in its fractious DirecTV relationship -- hostile attacks.

    In an interview with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), OAN correspondent Caitlin Sinclair labeled Verizon “one of the largest and wokest companies to date” and accused it of “looking to drop this network, One America News, from their lineup.” Sinclair asked Stefanik, “What pressure are you and Republican colleagues possibly putting on Verizon, or can you put on a company like Verizon?” Stefanik replied, “It’s not up to Verizon to determine what American citizens, what information they can access. That’s up to the consumer themselves.”

    In a different portion of the same Stefanik interview, which OAN aired in two separate segments, Sinclair claimed that OAN’s viewership “is just proof that the American people do not want orthodoxy.” She also asked, “What can the American people do in the meantime as far as immediate steps to ensure consumer choice when it comes to news programming?” Stefanik advised the consumers to “hold these companies accountable” by choosing to “take your dollars elsewhere.”

    Sinclair concluded the segment by declaring, “We the American people cannot continue to allow this level of censorship. House Republicans and their legislative efforts are commendable and critical, but we still need to hear from you. This assault on our sovereignty ends with us, the American citizens, taking back the power.”

    In another interview, this time with Heritage Foundation tech policy director Kara Frederick, OAN D.C. bureau chief John Hines asked if a 2021 letter from Democratic members of Congress asking TV providers, including Verizon, to comment on right-wing misinformation was “a form of subtle intimidation, sort of a wink-and-a-nod form of intimidation, or a tacit threat” from the government. Frederick replied that Congress was essentially saying that “if we don’t like what these networks are basically saying and disseminating, then we aim to cut you off at the knees.” Hines concluded that “maybe even your cable -- DirecTV, Verizon, Comcast -- maybe they won’t be on your side after they get some of these letters,” which were sent 17 months ago.

    OAN’s consistent whining about “censorship” is a red herring from the unavoidable truth: This incredibly hateful and anti-democratic network is a liability for any TV provider that does business with it.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Feds Arrest Trump Supporter Over Faked 'Radical Left Arson' Scheme

    Feds Arrest Trump Supporter Over Faked 'Radical Left Arson' Scheme

    On July 12, several outlets reported that a Minnesota man, Denis Molla, was accused by federal prosecutors of “faking a politically-motivated arson at his own property and filing false insurance claims.”

    When the incident was first reported in September 2020, local media outlets like Minnesota’s CBS affiliate covered the “suspicious fire” which followed the family’s purchase of two Trump flags and unnamed people “driving by their house very slowly, some taking pictures.” The Star Tribune also repeated Molla’s claim of people taking photos, adding that “feces was later left at his vehicle when he went on a water break” at work. A local NBC affiliate also reported that “political graffiti” at the scene showed that the fire “might have been set by someone unhappy with the Trump 2020 flag hanging from the family's camper in the driveway.”

    Right-wing media were not far behind the trend. Fox News and the New York Post gave Molla supportive coverage online, but One America News Network produced an entire TV segment about the arson and vandalism, which it aired four times.

    OAN reporter Daniel Kitchen reported that “the homeowners said they woke up to a loud boom, when husband Denis Molla saw roughly three people running away from the front of his home. Instead of going after the suspected arsonists,” Kitchen continued, “Molla stayed behind in order to rescue his wife and two younger children, along with four Husky puppies,” complete with Molla’s dramatic footage of him throwing a dog out of the back door.

    “Surveillance footage at the front door was able to capture moments before the homeowners were able to escape their house” -- but apparently not the “roughly three people” whom Molla alleged set the fire. Instead, OAN reported that the family believed “their house was targeted by the radical left for their political beliefs.”

    “It’s scary. It’s scary to know that my beliefs has created such an anger and such evil to somebody to do something like this,” Molla said during the report.

    OAN said that “along with the blaze, graffiti was seen defacing the garage, with a pro-Biden and BLM message displayed. Additionally, the anarchy symbol, with the letter A and a circle around it, was also seen on the garage.” Prosecutors now allege Molla did the graffiti on his own garage.

    The graffiti echoes multiple other instances of conservatives through the years faking their own political persecution, including a volunteer for the late Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign who carved a backwards B into her own cheek (for “Barack”) and claimed she was robbed, and a man who destroyed his own pickup truck with Black Lives Matter graffiti.

    “Officials are still looking for suspects, with the investigation extremely active,” Kitchen reported. And two years later, they found one.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

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

    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

    One America News Network

    One America News Is Top Cable Choice For Insurrection And ‘Mass Executions’

    The January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump was a watershed moment for conservative media. The “peaceful transition of power” that has long been a force in the mythologization of American democracy broke down that day, and rather than owning up to the gravity of a violent attack on that tradition, One America News Network stuck to its familiar playbook of lies and deceit – this time in service of increasing voter suppression.

    A survey performed in September 2021 found that 68% of Republicans wrongly believed that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Among Republicans who primarily trust far-right outlets like OAN, 97% believed the election was stolen. This correlation is no coincidence, and right-wing media’s continued lies about the 2020 election have provided fuel for nationwide voter suppression efforts by the GOP. In the wake of the Capitol attack, OAN became an important part of the conservative media campaign pushing a whopping 440 bills in state legislatures in 2021 that attempted to restrict voting access.

    Voter suppression is nothing new for the conservative movement, but OAN used the aftermath of January 6 to double down on election lies and promote efforts to make voting more difficult for its fellow Americans – while priming its right-wing audience for a potential civil war.

    OAN helped drive a frenzy for fraudulent election audits

    OAN correspondent Christina Bobb disputed the 2020 election results before a winner was even declared, a moment which was a harbinger for her coverage in 2021. Fueled by a passionate embrace of the Big Lie that the election had been stolen, Bobb essentially became a salesperson for election audits in any state that would entertain the idea.

    Bobb provided documents and testimony to get the Arizona audit in motion, and founded a nonprofit to raise money for the audit. Her group Voices & Votes raised $605,000 for the Arizona audit, or about 10% of its cost, undoubtedly in part because of Bobb’s frequent fundraising during her audit coverage on OAN.

    The amateurish operation in Arizona appears to be the playbook for other so-called “audits” going forward, even though it confirmed both President Joe Biden’s victory in the state and the oft-asserted fact that there was no significant fraud. But that didn’t stop Bobb or other audit extremists.

    Bobb has been concentrating her efforts to spread audits to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Michigan, counting on friendly GOP legislatures to indulge in the Big Lie. Some states, like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, are making moves toward their own audits. In Texas, which Trump won handily, preliminary results of an audit have once again confirmed earlier counts.

    Besides its own correspondent, OAN has helped create a second star of the right-wing election fraud movement. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell was already known before the 2020 election to be a prolific, unhinged Trump supporter, but Lindell’s delusions turned into an erratic fusillade of election lies, and -- unprecedented in television news -- the wealthy pillow CEO acquired vast swaths of OAN airtime in 2021 to zealously push his own false claims and conspiracy theories.

    OAN repeatedly aired at least three different Lindell “documentaries” alleging to unravel the conspiratorial web behind the 2020 election. Additionally, OAN ran ads for Lindell’s three-day “cyber symposium” over 150 times in a single week, before devoting more than 30 hours of live coverage to his erratic event. Just before Lindell's symposium began, OAN was sued by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation over spreading other election lies; later the network was hit with another defamation suit from voting technology company Smartmatic.

    OAN followed the symposium and defamation suit by letting Lindell take over its evening programming on at least three occasions. In his “The Lindell Report” the businessman aired even more potentially defamatory election lies.

    OAN backed voter suppression attempts nationwide

    Pursuant to its whole-of-network embrace of the Big Lie, OAN gave friendly coverage to or expressed outright support of several voter suppression efforts in states all over the country.

    OAN’s prime-time shows became important stops for Texas state legislators to promote Senate Bill 7, which “includes provisions to limit early voting hours, curtail local voting options and further tighten voting by mail.” On June 1, OAN’s Natalie Harp hosted GOP state Rep. Kyle Biedermann to raise concerns about “a lot of things going on against the laws” in 2020, like “drive-thru voting” and “ballots that were mailed out that shouldn’t have been mailed out.” OAN’s Dan Ball hosted state Sen. Bob Hall, who claimed that SB 7 would guard against what he called “soft fraud” by “election officials taking advantage of rules to bend them as much as they could in their favor.” According to Media Matters’ data, since December 2020, eight Texas state legislators have made at least 23 appearances on OAN prime time, many of them clustered around the SB 7 debate.

    The Georgia omnibus election bill was another focal point of OAN programming, particularly since the network is also interested in fomenting an election audit in Georgia. In ostensible news segments, OAN reports called Senate Bill 202 a “voting rights bill” that is “securing integrity for future elections,” and literally laughed at the notion that anyone would take issue with these “common-sense changes.” The Justice Department filed suit against Georgia over a long list of “racially discriminatory” provisions in the law, including “the prohibition on efforts by churches and civic groups to provide food or water to persons waiting in long lines to vote.”

    OAN frequently turns to one guest in particular for Georgia political commentary: former state representative and current gubernatorial candidate Vernon Jones. According to Media Matters' data, Jones has made at least 26 appearances on OAN prime time since December 2020 -- often dedicated to promoting his campaign for governor while pushing election lies and audit attempts.

    Video fileVideo Player00:0001:35SHARE

    CitationFrom the October 5, 2021, edition of OAN's Real America with Dan Ball

    OAN primed its audience for more political violence

    On June 23, correspondent Pearson Sharp drew widespread condemnation for an OAN segment suggesting mass executions of Democrats for supposedly stealing the election from Trump.

    Declaring the 2020 election was actually “overthrown,” Sharp told his audience: “Any American involved in these efforts, from those who ran the voting machines to the very highest government officials, is guilty of treason under U.S. Code. 2381, which carries with it the penalty of death.”

    Despite the unmistakable clarity of Sharp’s words, he told Talking Points Memo, “Neither I, nor OAN, are suggesting anyone should be executed,” but added, “That is for the appropriate law enforcement agencies to determine.”

    Sharp’s midsummer bloodlust wasn’t much of an aberration for One America News Network. OAN guests have casually gamed out civil war scenarios on-air, and the network has aired reports accusing “retired Democrat generals” of spreading civil war allegations against Republicans, while falsely claiming “evidence indicates that it is actually the left that is at war.”

    Though she did not directly suggest violence, Bobb brought in the new year by strongly denouncing the Biden administration as “fascist” and “illegitimate,” in part for having “faked an insurrection on the Capitol” and stealing the 2020 election. For a conservative steeped in Second Amendment mythology about “the tree of liberty” and “the blood of tyrants,” the dots don’t need to be connected.

    Wayne Allyn Root, a radio host and far-right conspiracy theorist, appeared on OAN in December and denounced Biden’s “communist dictatorship” for stealing both the 2020 election and Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats, giving Democrats their current tie-breaking Senate majority “destroying this country.” Root accused Democrats of “looking for a civil war,” which he claimed conservatives like him do not want -- but later in the same rant, Root said that the oppression of conservatives by the Democratic Party “is a lot worse” than the conditions that merited the American Revolution.

    “The worst is yet to come,” Root warned.

    Video fileVideo Player00:0006:46SHARE

    CitationFrom the December 29, 2021, edition of OAN's The Real Story with Natalie Harp

    OAN is headed into 2022 with more of the same lies, and little care for any negative consequences

    From OAN’s perspective, 2021 was a good year for “election integrity.” OAN’s Bobb fought for and secured an Arizona election audit, and successfully spun the mundane results into enough fuel to keep pushing for more audits. OAN collected viewers and money from airing MyPillow’s Lindell, even if it did help get the network sued for defamation. Several of the voter suppression initiatives OAN supported became law. OAN’s suggestions of political violence have retained a veneer of plausible deniability while priming the audience with fury and fear to keep pushing for more voter suppression.

    Reckless, false commentary about stolen elections and calls for punishing enemies are how we got Trump supporters invading the Capitol, menacing members of Congress, and chanting to execute Trump’s vice president one year ago. But it’s all just good business for OAN.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

    The Racial Astroturf Campaign That Elected Youngkin

    The Racial Astroturf Campaign That Elected Youngkin

    Reprinted with permission MediaMatters

    Born in a constellation of right-wing think tanks, the outrage against "critical race theory" spent over a year in the metastasizing embrace of right-wing media, churning up hatred against discussions of race in schools.

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    AT&T Spent Over $57 Million To Finance Fascistic OAN Cable Network

    AT&T Spent Over $57 Million To Finance Fascistic OAN Cable Network

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

    Reuters published the first part of a special report today, revealing AT&T's central role in the creation and continued survival of One America News Network.

    According to court records reviewed by Reuters, OAN founder Robert Herring Sr. testified that AT&T "told us they wanted a conservative network. … When they said that, I jumped to it and built one." Records also indicate that according to an OAN accountant, "ninety percent of OAN's revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms." According to an AT&T filing that cites Herring's numbers, AT&T has paid OAN "about $57 million" in fees, though an AT&T spokesperson claimed this number is inaccurate.

    OAN and all of its lies would not exist, and could not survive, without AT&T's blessing.

    Whatever the figure AT&T has paid to help keep OAN alive, the network has been using the airwaves to push toxic -- and often dangerous -- misinformation.

    That includes a deadly TV campaign against COVID-19 vaccines, hateful anti-LGBTQ content, and a network-wide assault on elections meant to hype bogus claims of fraud and overturn the 2020 results. The election attacks include a reporter's nonprofit seeking to fund fraudulent election "audits" around the country, a demented obsession with the MyPillow CEO and his money, and a correspondent's call for mass executions of election officials. And that's to say nothing of the host who used a racial slur on air or another host's apparent wish to shoot unhoused people.

    We now know that AT&T didn't just choose this; it asked for this. Herring delivered, and we are all worse off for it.

    Outside of AT&T, OAN is actively trying to expand its reach by encouraging its audience to pressure both Comcast and Charter Spectrum to carry the network. Its website features a prominent call for readers to call both providers and tell them that "you want OAN added to your channel lineup."

    From the first of two parts of the Reuters special report:

    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."

    In a pivotal moment for the company, the Herrings say in court filings, depositions and sworn statements, unidentified AT&T executives told them there was an audience for another conservative news network. Herring seized the opportunity.
    In his 2019 deposition in the labor suit unrelated to AT&T, the elder Herring said he created OAN for two reasons.
    "To make money, number one," Robert Herring said. "But number two, is that AT&T told us … they wanted a conservative network."
    The lawyer questioning Herring, Rodney Diggs, followed up.
    "So," the lawyer said, "AT&T kind of dictated the kind of network that they wanted. Because there was an opportunity, you jumped at it?"
    "Yes, sir," Herring replied.
    Unfazed By Her Infamous Lying, Fox Hires Kayleigh McEnany

    Unfazed By Her Infamous Lying, Fox Hires Kayleigh McEnany

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

    On March 2, Fox News announced on air that former White House press secretary and former Trump 2020 senior adviser Kayleigh McEnany has joined "the Fox family." McEnany's new employment was initially reported in late January, shortly after the January 6 insurrection, though at the time Fox denied the report, and her offer was reportedly "put on pause." McEnany was a regular fixture on Fox News even when she worked at the White House - appearing on the network at least 326 times since August 2017.

    Fox News Channel has long been part of a revolving door for GOP politics. Given Fox's devotion to former President Donald Trump's agenda and its flailing attempts to win back viewers from rival right-wing TV channels, McEnany is a natural fit for a network that specializes in partisan lies and misdirection. And for a Trumpist liar as prolific as McEnany, there may not be many options for her beyond Fox.

    At her first briefing as press secretary, McEnany promised not to lie to the media, then told multiple lies before that 15-minute session even ended. Much like her fellow Trump lackeys, McEnany "lies the way that most people breathe," including in absurdly shameless moments like when she defended Trump's indefensible lie that COVID-9 affects "virtually nobody," or when she lied that Trump never downplayed the pandemic, despite a public tape of Trump doing exactly that at length. On virtually any topic, there are examples of McEnany bending, avoiding, or outright subverting the truth in absolute service to Trump -- exactly the outlook that is foundational to Fox News.

    Perhaps the worst lie McEnany told was one that was also promoted all over Fox News: that the 2020 election may have been stolen from Trump, which ultimately led to a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. McEnany, appearing in one or two of her roles (sometimes it got confusing), pushed that lie in numerous Fox appearances after Trump lost the 2020 election, appearing on Hannity 20 times during that period. As a sign of McEnany's priorities, she gave only three press briefings (which were also full of lies) in her official White House capacity during the same time period.

    Threatened by competition from both mainstream and even more conservative channels and breaking promises to its remaining advertisers, Fox News is doubling down on the malicious lies of Trumpism in hiring McEnany, including the voter fraud lie that led to an attack on Congress, five deaths, more than 280 arrests, and a second Trump impeachment. With the former president deplatformed and potentially facing legal jeopardy, it seems that those remaining stuck in the Fox-Trump revolving door will do whatever they can to hold on to ratings and influence.

    Dangerous Anti-Vaccination Protest Promoted By QAnon

    Dangerous Anti-Vaccination Protest Promoted By QAnon

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

    On January 30, the Los Angeles Timesreported that "members of anti-vaccine and far-right groups" caused a COVID-19 mass vaccination site in LA's Dodger Stadium to temporarily shut down. Although the disruption "ultimately did little to inhibit vaccine distribution" and there was no violence reported, media should more proactively describe these actions as not mere "protests," but as expressions of a dangerous and increasingly interconnected world of conspiracy theories.

    The Los Angeles Times reported that the group didn't prevent anyone from making their appointment, though some people had to wait for an extra hour. Los Angeles County has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with an estimated 1 in 3 Angelenos contracting COVID-19 at some point.

    The Los Angeles Times referred to "far-right groups" present at the vaccination site shutdown, but it didn't elaborate that some of those involved were reportedly supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory. QAnon has grown from an initial lie that Hillary Clinton's arrest was imminent (over Pizzagate, a different conspiracy theory) to an all-encompassing pro-Trump conspiracy theory that's been linked to or helped inspire multiple violent crimes, including the deadly January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. CNN Business reporter Donie O'Sullivan explained that there is "an overlap between QAnon, between election conspiracy theories, and between vaccine misinformation."

    Video fileVideo Player00:0003:29SHARE


    The mainstreaming and intermingling of conspiracy theories during the pandemic has been a potent vehicle for radicalization, and the Dodger Stadium anti-vaccine "protest" was a (relatively docile) example of that radicalization at work. From the Los Angeles Times story:

    A post on social media described the demonstration as the "Scamdemic Protest/March." It advised participants to "please refrain from wearing Trump/MAGA attire as we want our statement to resonate with the sheeple. No flags but informational signs only.
    "This is a sharing information protest and march against everything COVID, Vaccine, PCR Tests, Lockdowns, Masks, Fauci, Gates, Newsom, China, digital tracking, etc."

    Despite the importance of the extremism angle, most coverage of the Dodger Stadium vaccination disruption rendered the anti-vaxxers responsible for the shutdown as just "protesters." Though their activities met the definition of a "protest," media should be wary of comparing QAnon conspiracy theorists opposed to voluntary vaccinations during a deadly pandemic to ordinary political protesters based in this reality.

    Los Angeles Times

    A Los Angeles Times headline reading "Dodger Stadium's COVID-19 vaccination site temporarily shut down after protesters gather at entrance"

    The Times also published a good headline about the "anti-vax 'mob'"

    A Los Angeles Times headline reading "Anti-vax 'mob' that closed Dodger Stadium vaccination site sparks outrage"

    CBS News

    A CBS News headline reading "Anti-vaccination protests temporarily shut down Dodger Stadium mega vaccination site"

    The Washington Post

    A Washington Post online headline reading "Anti-vaccine protesters temporarily shut down major coronavirus vaccine site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles"


    A Bloomberg online headline reading "Protesters Disrupt L.A.'s Dodger Stadium Vaccination Site"

    NBC News

    An NBC News headline reading "Anti-vaccine protest briefly shuts down Dodger Stadium vaccination site." A sub-headline reads "The fire department closed the entrance for about an hour as protesters attempted to enter the parking lot."


    A BBC headline reading "Covid vaccination: Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium 'closed by protests'"

    Trump Disputes Ominous Death Projections With Fox News Talking Points

    Trump Disputes Ominous Death Projections With Fox News Talking Points

    Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

    In an interview with ABC anchor David Muir, President Donald Trump repeated Fox News talking points about coronavirus models. This was his first broadcast network television interview since he spoke to NBC's Chuck Todd in June 2019.

    Fox News personalities have been using the wide array of COVID-19 models and projections to cast doubt on all modeling predicting the number of coronavirus-related cases and deaths. In response to rising projections of COVID-19 deaths in the country -- and seizing on confusion about the number of the models, what they mean, and which ones are used by whom -- Fox figures are downplaying the accuracy of models in general, calling them "a bit of a crapshoot," and dismissing their predictions since "we don't factor in human ingenuity."

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