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AT&T sucked into US culture war through claimed OAN links

One America News is a minor US cable network best known for supporting Donald Trump and AT&T has come under intense pressure for doing business with it.

On one level this story is very much a storm-in-a-teacup. Last week Reuters published a special investigation headlined ‘Trump TV: the AT&T Connection – How AT&T helped build far-right One America News’. Reuters got hold of some court documents that suggest AT&T is not only a significant financial partner of OAN, but also had a hand in its creation.

Since AT&T is a huge communications company and, since the acquisition of Time Warner, a major broadcast player too, it’s not too surprising to hear that is has had an interest in incubating new TV channels. In this case, as the Reuters headline makes no attempt to disguise, the political inclination of the channel in question has apparently transformed this from a business matter to a cultural one.

MSNBC describes OAN as ‘a monster’, while the supposedly objective journalism school and fact-checker Poynter insists even ‘far-right’ doesn’t go far enough in describing OAN’s ideology. None of the media we’ve seen using this descriptor care to define it but Wikipedia, which concurs, redirects the hyperlink to radical right, which it says is characterized by, among other things, ‘nationalist white supremacy’ tendencies.

We have never watched OAN but a quick look at its home page would appear to confirm it is both pro-Trump and nationalist but we could find no clear evidence of white supremacy. Either way, it has been going for 8 years so you have to assume its content remains within the boundaries set by the FCC and US law.

Nonetheless, as you can see from the reporting, AT&T’s association with OAN is broadly viewed as a stain on its corporate character, prompting it to try to downplay it in a statement to Deadline, in which it insisted it was never a financial backer of OAN and the deal with DirecTV is just a standard commercial one. If that’s all true then what’s the problem?

The more significant part of this story is that it provides further evidence of cancel culture imposing itself on the corporate world. While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the Reuters piece, you have to wonder if it would even have been written, let alone re-reported so widely, if OAN was perceived as having a ‘left’, rather than ‘right’ bias. The fact that, along with a sizable minority of the US population, it supports Trump seems also to be viewed as a negative.

One of the best-known media bias charts positions OAN at the extreme end but there are plenty of sources of equal and opposite bias that don’t seem to attract the same fuss. Much of what is termed the ‘culture war’ involves designating an increasing range of opinions and political positions as beyond the pale and deserving of censure. If even legal business relationships become subject to moral purity tests such as this then everyone, even those calling for them, will ultimately be left worse off.


4 comments

  1. Avatar Sy 11/10/2021 @ 4:32 pm

    I am all for freedom of information,Thank you for bringing it to my attention 🇺🇸

  2. Avatar Ryan A Workman 11/10/2021 @ 6:30 pm

    AT&T also owns CNN, so I’d call this being “fair and balanced.”

  3. Avatar Kevin 15/10/2021 @ 1:01 am

    This article is just upholding white supremacy.plain and simple. I don’t watch any of the news channels because I don’t believe in the American propaganda machine. This channel is pure white supremacy and the article upholds it and props it up. That was plain as day

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 15/10/2021 @ 9:16 am

      Are you OK, mate?

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