On Thursday night, One America News Network didn't air the January 6 congressional committee’s first televised hearing, which was carried live by every major broadcast network and cable news channel (except Fox News).
Instead, OAN aired a bizarre documentary defending and celebrating January 6 mob participants, followed by unhinged attacks on the committee from network personalities and guests. The night's broadcasts were filled with pro-Trump nonsense, right-wing grievance, and a convoluted victim complex about the mob that assaulted the Capitol.
At 6 p.m. ET, OAN led into the evening with a 2021 special, titled “Trump -- Legacy Of A Patriot,” an hour of ahistorical bootlicking about “President Trump’s stunning successes,” saying he accomplished more in his first 100 days in office than “any president since Franklin Roosevelt.” OAN’s Pearson Sharp explained that “we here at One America News want to take a moment and look back at everything President Trump has achieved, and thank him for his hard work serving the American people.”
“Not only has President Trump done what he said he’d do — he’s far exceeded anything anyone thought possible.”
After that 2021 rerun, starting shortly before 7 p.m., OAN aired Capitol Punishment, a shoddy 2021 movie starring actor and January 6 participant Nick Searcy. The movie suggests that the mob that assaulted the Capitol is made up of innocent patriots enduring a hate campaign from law enforcement (because police officers defended Congress), mainstream media, and the federal government (because commentators and officials called the attack “domestic terrorism” and the attackers “racist”).
The introduction prominently featured Searcy’s defiant “testimony” in a fake congressional hearing, created by pasting together videos of Searcy pretending to be both witness and questioner with out-of-context clips of congressional Trump opponents through the years, as if they were denouncing him in Congress for being a “white supremacist, racist, terrorist insurrectionist.”
The self-victimization hits its first of several peaks after footage of the fatal shooting of mob member Ashli Babbitt by a U.S. Capitol police officer. A quote from former President Harry Truman appears, warning the viewer about “a government … committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition” resorting to “increasingly repressive measures” until “everyone lives in fear.”
While the hearing itself was actually airing on other networks, Capitol Punishment had shifted to an interview with former Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider about the Trump campaign’s use of the song We’re Not Gonna Take It, which was also played on the National Mall on January 6. After the Snider interview, the movie complains that Universal Music Group “reneged on the deal” for the film to use the song, “however they can’t stop you from singing the song yourself!”
This is followed by an instrumental version of We’re Not Gonna Take It, with on-screen lyrics that have random letters removed, along with video of January 6 participants and supporters dancing and defending the attack.
The movie ends with Searcy riding into a dusty scene on horseback, as he tells the camera, “The republic is already lost. Our founding fathers risked everything to establish this country. What are you willing to risk? I risked hauling my 62-year-old ass up on this horse. Let’s go, people. What are they going to do, kill us all?”
At 8:35, OAN shifted to its own programming, where network personalities and guests took turns attacking the hearing. That included an interview with “political prisoner” Edward “Jake” Lang, allegedly from his “prison cell.” He used the hearing to complain that the investigation is a “farce” trying to “hang us for a two-hour disturbance” -- and of course to promote his own upcoming “documentary” about January 6. The interviewer, OAN anchor Caitlin Sinclair, also dismissed the hearing as “a bit of a political stunt” because the committee “hired the former president of ABC News, who was a former producer who was responsible for covering up a lot of the Jeffrey Epstein story.”
Later, Dan Ball fill-in host Rogan O’Handley told the Real America audience that, “like you, I didn’t waste my time with the clown show hearing the unconstitutional January 6 committee held,” because “for months and months, all the committee has done is spew a narrative to the mainstream media and Democrats about this so-called insurrection.” O’Handley followed this with tired, predictable complaints about a double standard with “all the BLM and antifa riots from the summer of 2020.”
O’Handley followed his clichéd complaints with a lament that “former Trump adviser and Harvard-educated doctor Peter Navarro” was “treated like an Al Qaeda terrorist” -- meaning he was arrested -- for defying a congressional subpoena.
This led into an interview with Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), who refused to testify to the same committee about his involvement in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Perry used his appearance to attack the committee hearing as “a three-ring circus” and “reality TV” that is only meant “to distract from what is actually happening to the country and what people are most concerned about.” (Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) revealed during the hearing that Perry had sought a pardon from Trump for his part in the effort to deny the election.)
OAN also brought in D.C. bureau chief John Hines to discuss “the January 6 committee, the congressional committee, so-called, I guess, according to some,” with Joe McBride, an attorney for several of the mob participants. McBride told Hines that the entire investigation was “a farce,” “propaganda,” and “a purposeful attempt to poison jury pools, grand jury pools, in the American consciousness. … They are trying to purposefully thwart justice, because they do not want a fair fight in the courtroom.”
The January 6 hearings are a watershed moment in the history of our young and fragile democracy; even though congressional Republicans will likely attempt to block any legislative efforts to protect the republic from another pro-Trump mob, it is important for Congress to discover the facts and present them publicly.
By instead choosing to air content hailing Trump’s supposedly God-like achievements and casting the violent mob as pitiful victims, OAN is making it abundantly clear it does not care about democracy. There can be only Trump and Trumpism, at whatever cost.