Months after Biden was inaugurated, the One America News Network, a right-wing news channel available to nearly 35 million households, continued to broadcast clips questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election.
“There are still serious doubts about who the president really is,” said OAN reporter Pearson Sharp. March 28 report.
This clip was one in a series of similar reports from a channel that became a kind of Trump television in the post-Trump era, an outlet whose coverage matched the complaints of the former president at a time when he was banned from using the main social media platforms.
Some OAN coverage has not been fully supported by staff. In interviews with 18 current and former OAN newsroom employees, 16 said the channel broadcast reports they deemed misleading, inaccurate, or incorrect.
To go through a lot of OAN reporting, it’s as if the transfer of power never happened. The channel did not broadcast live coverage From Mr. Biden’s swearing-in ceremony and opening speech. In April, news articles on the OAN website consistently referred to Donald J. Trump as “President Trump” and to President Biden as “Joe Biden” or only “Biden”. This practice has not been followed by other news organizations, including the OAN competitor Newsmax, Which is a cable channel and conservative news site.
OAN also promoted Hooligans exposing theory Those who stormed the Capitol on January 6 were left-wing agitators. Towards the end of a March 4th news clip Who described the attack as the work of “Antifa” and “anti-Trump extremists” – and referred to the president as “Beijing Biden” – Mr. Sharp said, “History will show that it is the Democrats, not the Republicans, that have called for this violence.” Investigations found no evidence that people sympathetic to Antifa, a loose group of anti-fascist activists, participated in the Capitol riots.
Charles Herring, president of Herring Networks, the company that owns the OAN, defended the reports casting suspicion on the election. He said, “Based on our investigations, it is clear that voter irregularities occurred in the November 2020 elections.” “The real question is to what extent.”
Herring Networks is founded by Mr. Herring’s father, 79-year-old tech entrepreneur Robert Herring who runs OAN with Charles and his other son Robert Jr. About 150 employees work for the channel at its headquarters in San Diego.
Nielsen does not report viewership statistics to OAN, and it is not a Nielsen customer. (Charles Herring cited Nielsen’s “extravagant fees”.) In last month’s survey, Pew Research reported That 7 percent of Americans, including 14 percent of Republicans, got political news from OAN. By contrast, the survey found that 43 percent of Americans and 62 percent of Republicans had received political news from Fox News.
While OAN appeals to a relatively small audience, its coverage reflects the views popular with Republicans. at Reuters / Ipsos poll Last month, nearly half of Republicans said they believed the January 6 attack, which left five people dead, was largely a peaceful protest or the work of left-wing activists. Six in 10 Republicans surveyed said they also believed Mr. Trump’s claim that the election was “stolen.”
OAN, which began in 2013, attracted attention when Mr. Trump’s campaign speeches were broadcast in full ahead of the 2016 election. In recent months, viewers who may have felt abandoned by Fox News have responded, and Election Night was the first news outlet to feature Mr. Biden as the winner in Arizona, a major swing state. In mid-November promotional announcement, OAN Fox News accused To join the “mainstream media in censoring factual reporting”.
Stephanie L. Edgerley, associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, said the stories of OAN “attract people who want to believe that the elections were not legitimate.” “These are two mutually reinforcing narratives about people wanting to believe it and keep fueling this fire by OAN.”
Marty Julingan, a producer on the channel since 2016, said OAN has changed in recent years. He said that at the start of his work, he focused more on impartial coverage based on reports from the Associated Press or Reuters. He said he saw him as an arrogant beginner as he could produce rude long stories.
Mr. Gollingan said that during the Trump presidency, things moved right. He said that when he was watching coverage of the pro-Trump gang storming the Capitol, he was concerned that his work might have helped inspire the attack.
He and others at OAN disagreed with much of the channel’s coverage, he added. “The majority of people did not believe that allegations of voter fraud were being broadcast on the air,” Mr. Gollingan said in an interview, referring to his colleagues.
He remembers seeing an image of someone in the Capitol crowd holding a flag emblazoned with the OAN logo. “I was like, well, that’s not good,” said Mr. Gollingan. “This is what happens when people listen to us.”
Charles Herring defended OAN coverage. “There is a review process with multiple checks to ensure that news reports meet the company’s journalistic standards,” he said. “And yes, we do have our fair share of mistakes, but we’re doing our best to keep them to a minimum and learn from our missteps.”
Mr. Gollingan added that since the day of the inauguration, OAN’s News Director, Lindsay Oakley, has reprimanded him for referring to Mr. Biden as “President Biden” in the news copy. Ms. Oakley did not respond to requests for comment.
“White House reporters working for OAN use the term President Biden, then they can use Mr. Biden,” Charles Herring said. “The term Biden administration or Biden administration can also be used.” He refused to respond to a question about the channel’s use of Mr. Trump’s “President Trump”.
Alicia Britton, a news producer, said she was one of more than a dozen employees who left OAN in the wake of the Capitol riots. She criticized some of what was reported by the channel, saying that the matter did not live up to journalistic standards.
“A lot of people raised their concerns,” Britton said in an interview. “The thing is, when people talk about anything, you get in trouble.”
Charles Herring confirmed that about 12 OAN workers have left in recent months, saying that many of them are not high-ranking employees.
Several current and former employees have said that the tasks Mr. Herring pays special attention to are known among OAN employees as “H stories”. The day after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Mr. Herring instructed OAN employees in an email reviewed by The New York Times to “report everything Antifa did yesterday.”
Some “H-Stories” were reported by Christian Rose, a reporter for OAN who wrote for Sputnik, a site supported by the Russian government. at Report In May about the pandemic, Mr. Rose said that Covid-19 may have started as a “global conspiracy to establish sweeping population control,” a conspiracy with links to Bill and Hillary Clinton, billionaires George Soros and Bill Gates, and the case. “
Ms Britton, a former producer of OAN, indicated verification of a website that Mr Rose had cited in support of some of his reports. “He literally took me to this chatroom where there were just conservatives hanging out with each other,” she said.
In an email to employees last month, Ms. Oakley, the news director, warned producers not to ignore or downplay Mr. Rose’s work. “His stories should be considered” H-stories “and treated as such, she wrote in the email reviewed by the Times. “These stories are often slowed down and edited by ME as per Mr. H.’s instructions.”
OAN’s online audience is significant, as there are nearly 1.5 million subscribers to its YouTube channel. One of the most popular videos, with nearly 1.5 million views since it was launched online on November 24, has criticized Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company whose equipment was used in more than two dozen states last year, including many won. Mr. Trump. The video, hosted by OAN White House correspondent Chanel Rayon, shows a man who said he had infiltrated a Dominion and heard company managers say they would “make sure” of Mr Trump’s loss.
Dominion sued Fox News and two of Mr. Trump’s attorneys, Rudolf Giuliani and Sydney Powell, accuse them of making or promoting defamatory allegations. Dominion’s lawyer, who did not respond to requests for comment, said the company was considering further legal action.
Mr Gollingan, the producer, said some OAN employees had been hoping Dominion would sue the channel. He said, “A lot of people said, ‘This is insane, and maybe if they sue us, we will stop publishing such stories.’
Weeks after Dominion filed their first defamation lawsuits, OAN aired a two-hour video in which MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell appeared, Make his case Widespread voter fraud occurred. YouTube removed the video the day it was posted, saying it violated the platform’s election integrity policy. Last month, an OAN report described Dominion’s “voting machines” as “infamous.”
Two current and former employees interviewed for this article – Dan Ball, talk show host, and Neil W. McCabe, a former reporter – described the coverage of OAN as unbiased. McCabe, who now writes for the Tennessee Star, said the network gave “a voice to the people who weren’t covered.”
Susan Beachy contributed to the research.