Getting your daily news from TikTok? It might be coming from One America News
Two hosts are bringing OAN’s misinformation and sloppy reporting to your For You page — but obscuring their affiliation with the network
Two of One America News’ lesser-known news hosts, Stella Escobedo and Alicia Summers, are racking up hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok by repeating and reposting OAN’s far-right programming without giving any indication they’re affiliated with the network.
For OAN — a company dropped by three cable providers in a single year — TikTok could be a key way to expand its dwindling audience while amplifying the right-wing echo chamber.
TikTok has at least 1 billion active monthly users, about 150 million in the United States, and teenagers are the platform’s primary user base. Two-thirds of American teens are on TikTok, and many use TikTok for research in lieu of Google. It seems extremely unlikely TikTok users would have the background about OAN to question Escobedo and Summers’ content, especially when it lacks logos.
The OAN hosts hiding their OAN affiliation on TikTok
Shortly after joining OAN in 2021 and 2022, respectively, Summers and Escobedo began uploading short videos to their TikTok pages. Collectively, Escobedo and Summers have accumulated millions of views and over 1,459,500 likes with content often filmed on the OAN set or simply ripped straight from One America News reports.
Media Matters found that on average, Escobedo and Summers earned upward of 48,000 and 52,000 views per video, respectively — nearly four times the number of viewers as OAN had when Nielsen last measured its audience in spring 2019 (14,000).
However, there’s no obvious indication of Escobedo and Summers' affiliation with the right-wing propaganda network in their account bios, and there is rarely any indication of their affiliation in their videos.
Media Matters analyzed 372 videos from Escobedo and Summers starting on their approximate first days at OAN — January 3, 2022 (the date of the first TikTok posted from an OAN set), and June 7, 2021, respectively — through December 31, 2022, looking for clear audio and/or visual mentions of OAN or its logo. Of the 372 videos, only 7 clearly showed their affiliation with OAN – 4 from Summers and 3 from Escobedo. Of the 7 videos that showed the hosts' affiliation with OAN, 3 of them were posted in December. These include a video with at least 113,000 views accusing California’s first lady of spreading pornography (by providing schools with a documentary criticizing media representation of women), and a video with over 147,000 views legitimizing a right-wing media panic against a transgender YMCA patron simply trying to use a locker room.
151 of the 226 Summers videos and 106 of the 146 Escobedo videos MMFA analyzed used OAN footage. But aside from the 7 videos previously mentioned, Summers and Escobedo either cropped out the OAN logo or covered it up with text blocks.
Compare this to Daniel Baldwin or Caitlin Sinclair — two other OAN reporters whose TikTok videos rarely surpass 10,000 views. Baldwin, who posts Trump rallies and OAN reels with election denialists under the page @DanTheRallyMan, frequently shares content with OAN logos clearly visible. Sinclair, similarly, has OAN mics visible in 3 out of the 8 videos posted to her page before December 31.
Unlike Baldwin and Sinclair, Escobedo and Summers appear to be aiming for a much more mainstream — not just MAGA — audience. They regularly encourage viewers to “follow me for your news” and use the hashtags #news, #learnfromme, and #LearnOnTikTok. Their top videos reflect this approach, offering run-of-the-mill reports about someone falling off an amusement park ride (over 491,000 views) and iPhone security (over 671,000 views).
To a layperson, Escobedo and Summers look like regular reporters. However, their TikToks are plastered with OAN’s signature brand of misleading, conspiratorial, and dubiously sourced news.
Escobedo and Summers use TikTok to promote far-right guests
Escobedo and Summers regularly post selectively edited OAN interviews with anti-LGBTQ bigots, xenophobic extremists, and COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, portraying them as trustworthy pundits and activists.
- Summers uploaded a selectively edited OAN interview with John Zadrozny, former legislative counsel with the anti-immigrant hate group the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), cropping out the part where Zadrozny pushes a xenophobic election-rigging conspiracy theory. The clip skips the part where Zadrozny said Democrats are upset because “it disrupts their ability to engage in voter fraud” by “dispersing [migrants] to red states in the hopes “they could vote illegally in the upcoming fall elections.” Additionally in the clip, Zadrozny defends Ron DeSantis’ migrant bus stunt which civil rights lawyers have sued DeSantis over for seemingly coercing 50 migrants to board charter flights under misleading pretenses.
- Escobedo posted multiple OAN interviews with the far-right, anti-public-health group “Let Them Breathe” celebrating court rulings striking down vaccine mandates in San Diego and Los Angeles public schools. Escobedo left out important information: Let Them Breathe’s founder, Sharon McKeeman, who appears in the clips, does not have children enrolled in public schools. Furthermore, McKeeman’s unchecked assertion that removing vaccine mandates “protects students' rights at the school district level” is untrue, and her claim that mandates are “unlawful” is misleading. State and local vaccine mandates are legal. Vaccine mandates protect immunocompromised educators' and students’ access to classrooms and protect children and adults from severe and long-term illness associated with COVID-19 by reducing community transmission. While individual public school districts cannot enforce vaccine mandates, states can — and do.
- Escobedo posted OAN interviews with anti-trans hate group Gays Against Groomers after Venmo and Paypal banned the group for “what advocates have said are strategies that amount to a stochastic terror campaign” against trans people. A September video where co-founder Jaimee Michell fearmongers about the “dangers” of gender-affirming care earned over 19,000 views. A September 12 clip of Gays Against Groomers member Anthony Raimondi promoting the LGBTQ groomer smear earned over 58,000 views and appears to violate TikTok community guidelines prohibiting hate speech.
- Multiple Escobedo videos with the #learnfromme hashtag contain interview clips portraying LGBTQ hate pushers as trustworthy or inspirational. These include Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project, and Moms for Liberty, a group with serious GOP connections that strategically harasses public school boards.
Summers and Escobedo perpetuate misinformation and right-wing narratives
Escobedo and Summers are serial misinformers on TikTok. Many of their videos violate community guidelines that prohibit harmful misinformation, including misleading and false content about COVID-19 and elections. TikTok’s COVID-19 misinformation policies prohibit “misinformation related to COVID-19, vaccines, and anti-vaccine disinformation.” TikTok’s election integrity guidelines prohibit videos that “erode trust in public institutions,” including videos alleging voter fraud, promoting unverified claims about polling stations, prematurely declaring a candidate’s victory, or suggesting votes won’t count.
- In one TikTok with over 177,000 views, Summers cast doubt on an accessible mail-in ballot design used in California’s gubernatorial recall election. In 2017, California added holes to mail-in ballots to help visually impaired voters determine where to sign their ballots and help ensure every ballot is counted. Summers did not mention this information in the video, instead implying that the holes were an effort to reveal people's votes. She told concerned viewers to “watch how you fold or #votein-person” in the caption. Commentators concluded the holes were evidence of election rigging, with one top comment asking, “Did anyone actually believe the Democrats wouldn’t cheat.”
- An OAN interview with an ophthalmologist questioning COVID-19 hospitalization rates generated Escobedo over 50,000 views. The TikTok does not note that the guest, Dr. Houman Hemmati, is not a virologist or general practitioner. Additionally, Hemmati attacked the Los Angeles Unified School District for using hospitalization rates to inform COVID-19 policies because these “aren't actually sick COVID patients — these are people who were in the hospital for something else.” While the technical difference between being hospitalized for COVID-19 and testing positive for COVID-19 while receiving treatment for separate issues is helpful for health care providers, it does not mean patients aren’t at risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19. Because hospitals routinely test patients for COVID-19, their case counts are a reliable source for policymakers.
- An Escobedo TikTok with 78,600 views lent credibility to a “fundamentally flawed” paper, with Escobedo claiming that “a recent study from Johns Hopkins University confirms COVID lockdowns have little to no effect on public health.” The paper was not peer-reviewed or endorsed by John Hopkins; additionally, one of its three co-authors (all economists) previously spread COVID-19 misinformation.
- Summers earned over 360,000 views on a video suggesting a report of sexual harassment from a former SpaceX employee was part of “dirty trick campaigns” demonizing Twitter CEO Elon Musk for saying he will vote Republican. Summers blocked out the OAN chyron but conveniently left in the subject tag: “Cancel Culture.” The content and tag perpetuate false notions about sexual assault that harm survivors.
- A Summers report falsely claiming Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar “appear[ed] to bring their own handcuffs” to a 2022 protest outside the Supreme Court earned 238,400 views. Ocasio-Cortez was not handcuffed.
Media Matters reviewed active TikTok accounts associated with four One American News personalities: news hosts Stella Escobedo and Alicia Summers and reporters Caitlin Sinclair and Daniel Baldwin. We checked whether they noted that they work at OAN in their profiles.
We then reviewed all TikTok videos on each account from their approximate hiring date through December 31, 2022. Through our live monitoring of OAN cross-checked with available, public online sources, we concluded that OAN employed Escobedo starting at least on January 3, 2022, Summers at least on June 9, 2021, Sinclair at least on October 1, 2019, and Baldwin at least on March 28, 2022.
We then reviewed all TikTok videos in the time periods identified for each OAN personality for whether their videos used OAN footage or whether the videos clearly showed the personalities’ affiliations with the network. We defined clear affiliation as any video that contained a visible OAN logo or included the personality stating that they worked for OAN in the script.