After the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search, OAN melts down about the “war” on Trumpism

OAN figures complained the FBI’s “Gestapo-style tactics” could be “another Watergate-type of situation” entrapping Trump

Dan Ball on OAN

On August 8, FBI agents served a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, and right-wing media are apoplectic, claiming the incident is proof that conservatives are now under threat from their own government. On far-right outlet One America News Network, hosts and guests have denounced “the corrupt DOJ and FBI” for having “declared war” on Trump supporters, with “Gestapo-style tactics” and a potential “set up” for “Watergate 2.0,” all to “prevent Donald Trump from running for president.”

The news broke late enough on Monday that that evening's opinion programming was seemingly locked in, which led to OAN covering the saga mostly in news briefs and awkwardly airing host Dan Ball promoting an Elvis memorabilia auction for five minutes while its right-wing competitors went off the rails defending Trump. But OAN has since made up for lost time.

On August 9, Ball opened Real America by announcing that “the corrupt DOJ and FBI have declared war on millions and millions of American citizens by searching” Trump’s home, and casting doubt on the investigation’s motive. “Are we getting the whole complete story? I think not.”

Ball claimed that 2022 is the third election “in a row” that the FBI has intervened in on behalf of Democrats, and that he “wouldn’t put it past” FBI agents to try “stashing some stuff in the boxes” to falsely incriminate Trump as part of “Watergate 2.0.” (Ball would later elaborate his belief that the boxes were sent to Trump by the government, suggesting “another Watergate-type of situation here, with ‘the documents.’ Set up?”)

“If there is any doubt that the FBI is nothing more now, today, than an armed force to be used against political enemies, there shouldn’t be after today,” Ball said. “This, my fellow patriots, is a very sad day for our nation.” 

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Citation From the August 9, 2022, edition of OAN's Real America with Dan Ball

Another tentpole of OAN’s Trump search coverage has been former OAN correspondent and current Trump super PAC attorney Christina Bobb. Bobb told OAN on Tuesday that the search was “just Gestapo-style … oppressing your political opponent because you're scared of him, not because there's actually any type of law enforcement needed here.”

In a separate interview, she told anchor Stella Escobedo that the “Gestapo-style tactics” were really intended to keep Trump from running for president again. Democrats “want to keep a very strong FBI, an FBI that’s willing to do their bidding,” Bobb said, “so that the only police force in the United States is their federal arm. … They’re trying to turn us into a police state where they have complete control.”

Bobb later appeared on OAN a third time since the search of Trump’s home, telling Real America’s Ball that she is “so proud and grateful and honored to even just watch how he responds to things like this.” Bobb said Trump “is fighting and he knows that they’re attacking him, and he knows that when they do things like this and they’re outing themselves as the radical tyrants that they are, it only makes it stronger for the American people.”

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Citation From the August 9, 2022, edition of OAN's Real America with Dan Ball

Tipping Point host Kara McKinney began her August 9 show by quoting from Trump’s statement on the search, calling it a sign of “a nation in decline.”

“They are already setting the stage to disqualify Trump from even thinking about running” in 2024, she declared, “now that the January 6 hearings have failed to move the needle on public opinion.” 

“By the way,” she added, “the Constitution gets to decide who’s qualified to run for president, and not federal statutes that are weaponized to entrap political opponents.”

During its coverage, OAN has also repeatedly aired in full Trump's nearly 4-minute response video to the Mar-a-Lago search, which features the former president teasing a 2024 presidential run and lamenting, “We are a nation that has weaponized its law enforcement against the opposing political party like never before.”