The president of the NAACP issued a scathing statement castigating AT&T after a report was published this week linking the telecommunications giant to the rise of a far-right news network.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that 90 percent of One America News’s (OAN) revenue in 2020 was the result of a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, such as satellite broadcaster DirecTV, including one five-year deal between OAN and AT&T that was reportedly worth about $57 million.
“We are outraged to learn that AT&T has been funneling tens of millions of dollars into OAN since the network’s inception,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon. “As a result, AT&T has caused irreparable damage to our democracy. The press should inform the American public with facts, not far-right propaganda and conspiracy theories.”
OAN, a conservative news network, heaped repeated praise on former President Trump during his final months in the White House, has aired coverage critical of racial justice protests and gave credence to conspiracy theories about alleged voter fraud after the election. The network was sued
earlier this year by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation based on statements made about the 2020 election.
“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,” Johnson said. “We are sickened by these revelations.”
In a statement to The Hill on Wednesday, AT&T spokesman Jim Greer pushed back on Reuters’s reporting and said, “AT&T has never had a financial interest in OAN’s success and does not ‘fund’ OAN.”
“When AT&T acquired DIRECTV, we refused to carry OAN on that platform, and OAN sued DIRECTV as a result. Four years ago, DIRECTV reached a commercial carriage agreement with OAN, as it has with hundreds of other channels and as OAN has done with the other TV providers that carry its programming,” Greer said.
“DIRECTV offers a wide variety of programming, including many news channels that offer a variety of viewpoints, but it does not dictate or control programming on the channels. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong. The decision of whether to renew the carriage agreement upon its expiration will be up to DIRECTV, which is now a separate company outside of AT&T,” Greer added.
AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Johnson’s remarks.