The right-wing, fiercely pro-Donald Trump One America News Network is often seen as a fringe player in American media—but its inspiration, and most of its revenue, came from the country's largest communication company, a Reuters investigation finds. Court records reveal that OAN founder Robert Herring has testified that AT&T execs inspired him to create the network in 2013. "They told us they wanted a conservative network" because they only had Fox to balance seven on the "other side," Herring said in a 2019 deposition. "When they said that, I jumped to it and built one."
The network, often praised by Trump, is known for supporting COVID and election conspiracy theories. YouTube suspended OAN for a week last fall for posting a fake COVID cure, and Dominion Voting Systems is suing the network for airing false claims about its machines being rigged. In 2020, a network accountant testified that around 90% of its income came from deals with AT&T-owned platforms, including DirecTV. The accountant said that without the DirecTV deal, the network's value would be "zero," according to court transcripts seen by Reuters. The accountant was testifying in a labor lawsuit unrelated to AT&T.
AT&T, which originally picked up the network for its U-verse platform, attempted to distance itself from OAN after the Reuters report. Company spokesman Jim Greer told the Hill that "AT&T has never had a financial interest in OAN’s success and does not 'fund' OAN." He said AT&T initially refused to air OAN when it acquired DirecTV, but reached an agreement after the network sued. Greer said DirecTV, which was spun off into its own company in August, "offers a wide variety of programming, including many news channels that offer a variety of viewpoints, but it does not dictate or control programming on the channel." (Read more One America News Network stories.)