Meet the propagandists and conspiracy theorists behind OAN - 2020-06-09
Over the last several weeks, President Trump has repeatedly promoted the conspiracy-mongering One American News Network on his Twitter feed and by regularly calling on its correspondent at White House news events. On Tuesday morning, he did so again by tweeting an unsubstantiated conspiracy that has been pushed by the network, citing its reporting to claim that a 75-year-old man who was knocked over and bloodied by Buffalo police while taking part in a protest after the death of George Floyd may have been "an ANTIFA provocateur" working to disrupt police communications.
Based on what little data is available, the channel could use all the White House support it can get. According to CNN, OAN doesn't subscribe to industry-standard Nielsen Media Research, but last spring, it went ahead and measured the channel anyway in the country's largest metropolitan areas. It averaged just 14,000 viewers from April 1, 2019, to June 11, 2019. In that time, Fox News averaged 631,000 viewers; CNN and MSNBC also had averages in the hundreds of thousands. While the network's owner has said it is available in 35 million American homes, that number represents less than a third of households with television.
Despite its small viewership, Trump has helped OAN gain outsize reach and reputation by endorsing its outrageous reporting and by his multiple assertions that he might prefer the network to Fox News. The channel's willingness to do stories without a factual basis seems to know no bounds, as long as they make the left look bad and the right, particularly Trumpism, look great. The channel amplifies hoaxes that, before, were usually sitting on the margins of the internet. For example, theories about the global ambitions of liberal megadonor George Soros, Bill Gates, and other wealthy people that the channel has run haven't appeared anywhere else but on message boards and fringe-right Twitter and Instagram accounts. It's unclear if the channel has a fact-checking process. If it does, it appears to have no problem citing such sources.