The recent revelation that telecommunications giant AT&T reportedly played a key role in creating and sustaining One America News (OAN), which is known for embracing far-right viewpoints and which has also been accused of spreading misinformation about the 2020 election, ignited fury at the NAACP.
A statement from NAACP CEO and president Derrick Johnson said: “We are outraged to learn that AT&T has been funneling tens of millions of dollars into OAN since the network’s inception. AT&T has as a result caused irreparable damage to our democracy. The press should inform the American public with facts, not far-right propaganda and conspiracy theories.”
The network has been an ongoing source of conspiracy theories that falsely claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former president Donald Trump, as well as misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reuters, citing deposition testimony in 2019 from OAN’s founder Robert Herring Sr., reported that executives of the corporatio inspired the network’s launch in 2013.
“They told us they wanted a conservative network. 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,” Herring testified, according to Reuters.
Since 2013, AT&T has provided tens of millions of dollars in funding to OAN. Herring said AT&T offered him $250 million in 2019. OAN’s value “would be zero” without a deal from DirectTV, which is currently 70 percent owned by AT&T, but had been fully owned by the corporation until its February 2021 spin-off.
Reuters said AT&T spokesman Jim Greer declined to answer questions about the company’s role in funding OAN because of confidentiality agreements.
The NAACP also criticized AT&T’s corporate diversity, equity and inclusion statement, which says that the company champions those values.
“For a corporation that fuels OAN, a network that continues to spread lies about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 insurrection, AT&T’s values could not be any more performative and flat-out fake,” the Jackson said in the NAACP statement.