On Sunday, One America News aired Scientific Proof, an unanticipated followup to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s Absolute Proof “disinfomercial” -- this time talking with a physicist about how “machines, ‘i.e. computers,’” allegedly stole the 2020 election for President Joe Biden. During the April 4 program, Lindell made the same false allegations against Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems (which is already suing him for defamation) and baseless claims of election fraud as in his earlier film.
Rampant lies that the presidential election was stolen already fuel a dangerous alternate reality, where supporters of former President Donald Trump falsely believe their candidate won. These exact lies spread throughout right-wing media and inspired the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters seeking to overturn the election, leaving five dead. Trump, still president at the time, was also suspended from major social media networks -- in the case of Twitter, permanently -- and impeached a second time by the House of Representatives for spreading these lies and helping to incite the insurrection.
Last Sunday on OAN, Lindell spread the same lies and encouraged everyone watching to do the same.
OAN, as a self-proclaimed news channel, continues to fan the flames of these deadly lies for two reasons: It needs attention from a deeply misled audience, and Lindell’s money.
Lindell’s first movie was identified as paid programming in a lengthy and arguably useless legal disclaimer OAN ran prior to its first airing, which stated that the MyPillow CEO “has purchased the airtime for the broadcast of this program” and “is solely and exclusively responsible for its content,” but Lindell’s sequel did not carry a similar warning (though the film was abruptly interrupted several times by OAN promos). Lindell’s payment for OAN airtime to spread his unhinged lies was presumably a welcome boon for the network’s finances, which rely on fees from cable subscribers instead of potentially more lucrative ad revenue for most of its income. (OAN claims to be profitable and debt-free, but the family-owned company keeps its finances relatively private.)
OAN is also hungry for viewers who will appreciate its brand of far-right propaganda, and the network is willing to go farther than its competitors -- even Fox News and Newsmax -- in delivering deluded lies to a far-right audience conditioned for misdirection.
In the world that OAN’s programming regularly claims is real -- where Trump is still the rightful president, even if Democrats cheated him out of the White House -- what is a patriot to do when the White House itself was stolen, and the rightful president’s works are being undone by an usurper? The answers to that false question are obviously dangerous; we saw a preview of them on January 6.
It is unconscionable for any business to carry, advertise on, or work with a network as resolutely irresponsible as One America News. Not only does the network continue to carry Lindell’s false claims about the election, but Lindell said he is preparing to release another movie rehashing the same lies next week, which will also presumably air on OAN.