OAN Throws A Hissy Fit After Being Axed By AT&T, DirecTV
from the good-luck-with-that dept
Last week, we noted how AT&T-owned DirecTV had decided to axe OAN, the conspiracy and fantasy channel, from its cable lineup. The decision came just three months or so after a blockbuster report showed that AT&T not only helped fund and set up the conspiracy theory spewing “news” outlet, but it came up with the idea. OAN has been notorious for spreading false claims ranging from non-existent election fraud to the false claim that COVID was developed in a North Carolina lab as part of a government plot.
Of course things have shifted dramatically for AT&T since OAN’s creation several years ago. The company’s $200 billion acquisitions of DirecTV and Time Warner flamed out spectacularly, forcing it to sell much of the assets to recoup its massive debt load as it backed away from its TV and video advertising ambitions and refocused on telecom. That included selling off DirecTV into a new joint venture with private equity firm TPG Capital, which now has a 30 percent stake.
So the recent decision to axe the channel from the DirecTV lineup likely had more to do with TPG Capital not wanting to be associated with the venture than AT&T (whose Dallas-based executives remain largely cozy with insurrectionists and right-wing conspiracy theorists). But the channel apparently thought attacking AT&T board members would be their best path forward, with channel hosts now asking viewers to “find dirt” on AT&T board member William Kennard:
“Besides begging OAN viewers to ?blow up? AT&T?s phone lines with demands that they keep his channel, Ball also called on them to send them any salacious information about the conglomerate?s chairman.
?If you have any dirt on Mr. Kennard, I?d love to see it and put it on this program,? the Real America host exclaimed.
?You bring me concrete evidence of whatever it may be: cheating on his taxes, cheating on his wife, saying racial slurs against white people,? Ball added, unsubtly referencing the fact that Kennard is Black. ?Whatever it may be. Find it for me. Bring it, and we will air it.”
Granted there are plenty of executives and board members at AT&T that OAN could have singled out. But Kennard is not only Black (some race-baiting motivation for the target audience), he’s a Democrat who was Federal Communications Commission chairman during the Clinton administration (letting them pretend they’re the victim of partisan politics). That’s a far more compelling narrative than the truth, which was that AT&T’s new partner TPG Capital likely didn’t want the brand association or legal liability OAN creates, especially for a company like DirecTV that has lots of other things to worry about (like surviving the streaming revolution).
OAN is obviously panicked because while the channel is still carried on a few providers (like Verizon’s FiOS TV), DirecTV made up the vast, vast majority of its outreach footprint, giving it perceived legitimacy as a “news” organization. Without a sugar daddy like AT&T propping up the organization with favorable carriage deals, the “news channel” is forced to heavily rely on the Internet for distribution, leaving it mired in a highly competitive scrum of conspiratorial influencers and other gibberish spewing Trump orbit hopefuls.