AT&T has been a "crucial source of funds" for the far-right One America News Network, the pro-Trump channel that has spread false allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, according to a new report.
A Reuters investigation published Wednesday revealed that in 2019, One America News founder Robert Herring Sr. said in a deposition that the inspiration to launch the right-wing channel came from AT&T executives, who "told us they wanted a conservative network." Additionally, the report says that according to court records, AT&T has provided the network with tens of millions of dollars and that "ninety percent of OAN's revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms," including DirecTV.
In August, Dominion Voting Systems sued One America News Network for airing false claims that its voting machines were involved in a conspiracy to rig the 2020 election for President Biden; before an election fraud special by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, the network said in a lengthy disclaimer that it "does not adopt or endorse any statements or opinions in this program." The network has also aired misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted YouTube to temporarily suspend its channel in 2020. While in office, former President Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to watch OAN while he took issue with Fox News' coverage of his administration.
An AT&T spokesperson said that the company "has never had a financial interest in OAN's success and does not 'fund' OAN" and that DirectTV "does not dictate or control programming on the channels." But the report describes how OAN has had a "lucrative relationship" with AT&T, per the court documents. Herring reportedly referenced a five-year deal with AT&T that totaled nearly $60 million, a figure an AT&T spokesperson denied to Reuters, and OAN even allegedly promised that it would a "cast a positive light" on AT&T during its newscasts. Read the full report at Reuters.
Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from AT&T.