Its prime-time political talk shows have a conservative perspective, and the channel has described itself as one of the "greatest supporters" of Trump. Trump himself has promoted both the network and some of its hosts.
OANN was announced on March 14, 2013, by Herring Networks, Inc., a family-owned national video programming company that also owns sister channel AWE. The OANN channel originally debuted in partnership with The Washington Times, which had drawn criticism for racist content, including commentary and conspiracy theories about former U.S. PresidentBarack Obama, supporting neo-Confederatehistorical revisionism, and promoting Islamophobia. OANN president Charles Herring said in 2013 that, under OANN's agreement with The Washington Times, the new network could use any Times content, but was not obligated to do so; he also said at the time that between 60 and 65 Herring Broadcasting employees spent "most of their days" on One America.
In June 2019, OANN said that it reached 35 million homes. At the time, OANN had approximately 150 staff.
At the beginning of 2020, it was reported that Trump allies were looking into purchasing OANN.
As of April 2021, OANN was available in approximately 35 million households, and its YouTube channel had close to 1.5 million subscribers. Approximately 150 employees worked at its San Diego headquarters.
Shows currently airing on OANN are: Real America with Dan Ball, In Focus with Stephani Hamill, Tipping Point with Kara McKinney, The Real Story with Natalie Harp, After Hours with Alex Salvi, and Weekly Briefing with Christina Bobb.
In August 2014, OANN launched the show On Point with Tomi Lahren. Many clips from the program went viral, and by 2015 Lahren had gained widespread attention for her commentaries. On August 19, 2015, Lahren aired her final show at OANN. On the week of August 24, 2015 former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin guest-hosted a program on the network.
OANN is pro-Trump. The father of Charles Herring,Robert Herring Sr., founder and CEO of the network, has ordered producers to promote pro-Trump stories, anti-Clinton stories, and anti-abortion stories and to minimize stories about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Herring prohibited the network from running stories about polls that did not show Trump in the lead during the 2016 election.
According to former and current employees at the channel as well as internal e-mails, by July 2017 the executives of the channel had directed the channel to "scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage antiabortion stories, minimize coverage of Russian aggression, and steer away from the new president's troubles."
In October 2017, the channel claimed without evidence that a "report" had been published that showed "U.K. Crime Rises 13% Annually Amid Spread of Radical Islamic Terror". Trump later repeated this falsehood, suggesting that he learned of it from OANN.
In June 2017, OANN was granted a permanent seat in the White House's James Brady briefing room. The network's Chief White House Correspondent, Trey Yingst, was one of the top five most called-upon reporters covering the Trump administration. Trump has been repeatedly called for questions from OANN during press conferences, including in February 2017 when Yingst asked the president about his campaign's contacts with the Russian government. Also in February 2017, OANN was invited to a network lunch with Trump. In August 2017, Trump praised OANN, saying: "It's a great network". In response, OANN CEO Robert Herring said that OANN considers itself a tough but fair presence in the White House press corps.
OANN supported the Trump administration's revocation of CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press credentials; most major media outlets, including the conservative Fox News, opposed this decision. In a statement, Robert Herring attacked Fox News, saying he "can't believe Fox is on the other side."
In August 2020, OANN tweeted a promotion for a television segment entitled "America Under Siege: The Attempt to Overthrow President Trump." The tweet asserted that ongoing demonstrations in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing constituted a "coup attempt" that was "led by a well funded network of anarchists trying to take down the President." Trump retweeted the message.
On February 11, 2021, after Trump had left office, OANN aired a "tribute to his accomplishments" set to a reading of Rudyard Kipling's poem "If—". The video was credited to Harrison Hill Smith, an InfoWars contributor.
After The Washington Post reported allegations that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore had made unwanted sexual advances toward teenagers when he was in his thirties in November 2017, OANN "became a source of both positive coverage and stories that could cast doubt on his accusers." In November 2017, OANN aired a segment citing a false rumor by an anonymous Twitter account that The Washington Post had offered $1,000 to Roy Moore's accusers. OANN described the tweet as a "report" and described the tweeter as a "former Secret Service agent and Navy veteran". The Twitter source had a history of tweeting falsehoods and conspiracy theories; the Twitter account had also made repeated and inconsistent lies about its identity, including appropriating the identity of a Navy serviceman who died in 2007. After it was revealed that the story was a hoax, OANN did not retract its report.
During his Senate campaign, Roy Moore cited OANN when he defended himself against the accusations, including an OANN story that alleged his "Accusers Have Ties to Drug Dealers & Washington Post".
During the night of the Alabama Senate election, OANN announced that Moore had swept the election "by a large margin" when in actuality Moore had lost the race. In its announcement, the network cited "unofficial polling", and the news anchor extended OANN CEO Robert Herring's congratulations to Moore on having run a "fine campaign." OANN's website also published an erroneous article claiming Moore had won "despite attacks from Democrats about unverified allegations." During election night, OANN also reported "a number of people have been caught trying to sneak into voting booths and vote illegally"; however, Alabama Secretary of State's office said it had no credible reports of voter fraud.
In April 2018, while on an al-Assad regime-led tour of the area of the Douma chemical attack, an OANN correspondent claimed there was no evidence that a chemical attack had occurred. The correspondent said, "Not one of the people that I spoke to in that neighborhood said that they had seen anything or heard anything about a chemical attack on that day" and that residents "loved Bashar al-Assad."
In May 2019, OANN published a report claiming that the White Helmets had admitted to staging fake chemical weapons attacks intended to put blame on the Assad regime. OANN referred to the humanitarian organization, which is partly funded by the US State Department, as "terrorist-linked". The Daily Beast characterized this story as a "smear" that could be traced directly as Russian disinformation.
In April 2018, OANN ran a segment falsely claiming that a California bill would ban the sale of Bibles. Within 24 hours, the OANN video was viewed 1.4 million times on Facebook. Snopes determined that this claim was a misrepresentation; the bill actually targeted gay conversion therapy.
Unsubstantiated claims about Ammar Campa-Najjar
During the mid-term campaign for the November 2018 U.S. elections, OANN ran a segment claiming that Democratic congressional candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar's "father praised the deaths of the Israelis, saying they deserved to die." The Washington Post fact-checker noted that there is no attribution to this statement in the OANN segment. An OANN commentator also claimed that groups connected to the Muslim Brotherhood donated to Campa-Najjar's campaign and that the FEC website showed this. The Washington Post fact-checker said it "couldn't find evidence of this after searching Campa-Najjar's filings with the Federal Election Commission." Nevertheless, the OANN segment was used in attack ads by Campa-Najjar's Republican opponent Duncan D. Hunter to support the false suggestion that Campa-Najjar was tied to terrorism, and Hunter would end up winning the election anyway.
Interview subject with a fake name
In July 2019, the network interviewed pro-Trump activist Logan Cook, known online as Carpe Donktum, about allegations of anti-conservative bias on Reddit. OANN identified the man as Dennis F. Charles and said he was "a conservative social media analyst." OANN did not disclose that Cook was using a pseudonym.
OANN is known for downplaying threats posed to the United States by Russia. According to a former OANN producer, on his first day at OANN he was told, "Yeah, we like Russia here." One of OANN's reporters, Kristian Brunovich Rouz, simultaneously works for the Russian propaganda outlet and news agency Sputnik, which is state-owned; when Rouz runs favorable segments on OANN that relate to Russia, OANN does not disclose that he also works for Sputnik.
In September 2019, OANN parent Herring Networks sued MSNBC host Rachel Maddow (as well as Comcast, MSNBC and NBCUniversal Media) for $10 million in federal court, after Maddow said the network "literally [is] paid Russian propaganda" on her July 22, 2019 program (when she referred to a Daily Beast article identifying Rouz as working for Sputnik). The court dismissed the suit, finding the claim was not defamation, but that a "reasonable viewer" would recognize it as a reasonable summation of the article published by The Daily Beast. In February 2021, Herring Networks was ordered to pay Maddow and MSNBC $250,000 legal fees in an anti-SLAPP ruling. OANN is appealing the ruling.
During a report from Ukraine with Rudy Giuliani, in December 2019, OANN correspondent Chanel Rion claimed without evidence that Soros had shown up at the Kyiv airport with "human Dobermans in little black Mercedes" to find them. The claim was ridiculed in Ukrainian and American media. Soros was not known to have visited Ukraine since 2016.
In March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the OANN chief White House correspondent Chanel Rion promoted a conspiracy theory that the virus originated in a North Carolina lab, citing information from a "citizen investigator and a monitored source amongst a certain set of the DC intelligence community" who was actually a Twitter conspiracy theorist. As she described this individual during a televised report from the White House grounds, an image was displayed of actor Keir Dullea in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. She also asserted that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading expert on infectious diseases, had funded the creation of COVID-19. Rion later claimed without evidence that other mainstream media outlets were parroting Communist Party of China propaganda. During a press conference with Trump, she asked him whether it was "racist" to use the term "Chinese food"; accused "major left-wing news media" of "consistently siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals and Latin gangs and cartels" as well as "Chinese Communist Party narratives"; and asked the president whether it was "alarming" that media "work right here at the White House with direct access to you and your team?"
During May 2020, Kristian Rouz created a package for OANN in which he claimed "mounting evidence of a globalist conspiracy" involving the Clintons, Soros, Bill Gates, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the Chinese government. No evidence exists for any of this. Rouz also compiled the wholly fabricated story OANN ran in 2017 alleging that Hillary Clinton's political action committee secretly gave $800,000 to "antifa."
In November 2020, YouTube suspended OANN's channel's ability to upload videos for one week and demonetized its channel for violating YouTube's policy against promoting COVID-19 misinformation, after OANN uploaded a video advertising a fake cure for COVID-19. OANN responded that "The video was 'unlisted' on YouTube for review by internal OAN staff only", accused YouTube of a First Amendment violation, and stated that the video was republished on the OANN website.
In June 2020, during protests against racism and police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, OANN reporter Jack Posobiec falsely claimed that there were pipe bombs planted at the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C., and that "federal assets [were] in pursuit". There were no pipe bombs, nor is there any evidence that any "federal assets" pursued it.
In June 2020, OANN claimed, without evidence, that an elderly protester who had been seriously injured by police "was attempting to capture the radio communications signature of Buffalo police officers" and was linked to the antifa movement. Referencing OANN's unfounded conspiracy theory, Trump later tweeted that the protester "could be an ANTIFA provocateur." OANN's Kristian Rouz provided no evidence for these claims, referring only to The Conservative Treehouse, an anonymously written right-wing blog. That afternoon, Herring, Sr. tweeted to Trump, "we won't let you down as your source for credible news!"
OANN saw growth in its audience as a result of its election coverage. It was boosted in particular by Donald Trump, who expressed disapproval of Fox News' reporting on the presidential election and encouraged his supporters to instead watch OANN or Newsmax TV, another conservative channel promoting election falsehoods.
Dominion Voting Systems
Top: Coverage of Dominion Voting Systems on January 1, 2021. Bottom: OANN scrubs all references to Dominion Voting Systems after Dominion filed a defamation lawsuit against Sidney Powell
OANN was a major promoter of the conspiracy theory that Dominion Voting Systems had manipulated vote totals to ensure the victory of Democratic candidate Joe Biden. OANN spent months alleging manipulation by Dominion, advanced claims that Dominion employees had colluded with Antifa activists, aired a fictitious map allegedly seized by the US Army from election servers in Germany showing Donald Trump had received 410 electoral votes, and hosted interviews with Trump allies claiming that Dominion was part of an international communist conspiracy. Some of these claims were later amplified by Donald Trump, including a false assertion made on OANN that millions of votes for Trump were switched to votes for Joe Biden (a claim that originated on TheDonald.win, a pro-Trump website); Trump also tweeted out an OANN segment in which Ron Watkins, a far-right conspiracy theorist and administrator of 8chan (the website famous for its close connection to the QAnon conspiracy theory), was falsely characterized as an expert on election issues as he promoted conspiracy theories about Dominion.
OANN later removed all references to Dominion and Smartmatic, another company falsely accused of voter fraud, from its website without issuing public retractions after Dominion filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Sidney Powell. However, on February 5, 2021, OANN aired Absolute Proof, a film produced by My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell that contained false claims and conspiracy theories about voter fraud in the election. Before the program, OANN showed a lengthy disclaimer asserting that the claims were Lindell's alone, but that the 2020 election results "remain disputed and questioned by millions of Americans." The disclaimer was seen as an attempt to avoid litigation from Dominion and Smartmatic.
The US intelligence community report with a reference to "... a documentary that aired on a US television network in late January 2020".
On January 25, 2020, OANN aired a film titled The Ukraine Hoax: Impeachment, Biden Cash, and Mass Murder. In March 2021, the United States intelligence community released an analysis which found that proxies of Russian intelligence "made contact with established US media figures and helped produce a documentary that aired on a US television network in late January 2020" as part of a broad effort to promote and launder misleading or unsubstantiated narratives about Joe Biden "to US media organizations, US officials, and prominent US individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration."
Doxing and harassment of
On March 18, 2021, OANN aired a segment which contained the phone number of The New York Times reporter Rachel Abrams, who they claimed was "fishing for information" from disgruntled OANN employees for a "hit piece" and called on viewers to "stand up to intimidation by the left" by contacting Abrams. OANN also posted a tweet with the number on its Twitter account, which was deleted after more than 6 hours by Twitter for violating its rules on personal and private information. On April 18, 2021, Abrams published an article in The New York Times, which cited interviews with current and former OANN employees stating that the channel had broadcast reports they considered to be "misleading, inaccurate or untrue", and that some employees were hoping the channel would be sued by Dominion Voting Systems. Marty Golingan, one of the employees who was interviewed, was fired by OANN after the article was published.
In March 2015, University of Southern California media professor Marty Kaplan praised the network for its focus on what he viewed as impartial news reporting, writing in The Huffington Post, "Ten minutes of OAN tells me eight stories; 10 minutes of Fox or MSNBC tells me one story, to make me mad," while commenting that OAN's opinion segments were "as delusional and incendiary as anything on conservative talk radio or Fox." He has since expressed a different view of the network, telling Columbia Journalism Review that, where once the talk shows were "sand traps" in a "large field of green", the network "fairly quickly" became "more like the Sahara". Don Kaplan (no relation to Marty) of the New York Daily News echoed similar sentiments to Marty Kaplan's initial view, writing in December 2016 that, "it's by far one of the most fair news outlets around, serving up a daily diet of ad-free, non-ideological, nonstop news—without smirking, snarky anchors or much fanfare" while stating that its opinion segments "skew hard to the right."
In an April 2020 Last Week Tonight segment, John Oliver called the channel "a combination of far-right wing talking points and dirt-stupid reporting," criticizing its hosts, methods, ideology, accuracy, promotion of unfounded conspiracy theories, and closeness to the Trump administration.
OANN does not subscribe to Nielsen ratings, citing the rating companies' high price. In March 2019, OANN cited Comscore set-top-box viewership data to claim it was the "fourth-rated cable news network" that month.
In February 2021, a federal judge awarded $250,000 to MSNBC in an anti-SLAPP counter suit to OANN's $10million lawsuit claiming that they had been defamed by Rachel Maddow. The judgement ruled that OANN's initial suit was frivolous and required OANN to pay all legal fees incurred by MSNBC.
^Dagnes, Alison (2019). "Negative Objectives: The Right-Wing Media Circle and Everyone Else". In Dagnes, Alison (ed.). Super Mad at Everything All the Time. Super Mad at Everything All the Time: Political Media and Our National Anger. Springer International Publishing. p. 179. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-06131-9_5. ISBN9783030061319.