One America News’ Pearson Sharp made a set of inflammatory comments Wednesday night, which soon went viral on Twitter, in which he made calls for the mass executions of people involved in the supposed theft of the 2020 election. But looking beyond just a single monologue, Sharp’s record — as well as OAN’s itself — shows that the continued broadcast of conspiracy theories about the election are nothing less than a continuation of the incitement that led to the January 6 violence at the Capitol.
And just as with the other hateful rhetoric that comes from OAN, this incitement is being supported by advertisers and cable providers.
Sharp connects the mass execution to the Arizona ballot “audit”
During his monologue on June 23, Sharp recited a litany of long-disproven conspiracy theories about supposed misconduct the 2020 election vote count. He also mentioned claims related to the ongoing “audit” of votes in Maricopa County, Arizona — a process that OAN has promoted and is pushing to spread to other states. At least two of OAN reporters have raised money for the Arizona audit, which is also linked to figures in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement.
As for the “audit” itself, ballots have been examined for rumored bamboo fibers or secret watermarked messages in the paper, in an effort to spread further doubts about President Joe Biden’s actual victory in the state.
In a subsequent email exchange with Talking Points Memo, Sharp insisted, “Neither I, nor OAN, are suggesting anyone should be executed, … That is for the appropriate law enforcement agencies to determine.”
Sharp’s previous efforts to overthrow the 2020 election
After the election last year, Sharp engaged in such conduct as denouncing the certification of election results for Joe Biden, by alleging “irregularities” and spreading conspiracy theories about voting machines, as well as spreading accusations of misconduct by election workers long after the stories were already debunked. But perhaps even more concerning than his claims about the irregularities in vote counting was his repeated calls for the wholesale rejection of the democratic process itself.
On December 2, Sharp narrated an OAN segment that featured calls by far-right retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney for Trump to declare a national emergency and prevent the Electoral College delegates across the country from actually voting, which Sharp described as “one of President Trump’s so-called nuclear options.” About two weeks later, after the Electoral College members had voted and formalized Biden’s victory, Sharp defiantly stated that “Monday's certification of the ballots means nothing” and instead promoted various mechanisms by which Republicans could reject the election results: “We are the only broadcast news network out there with the integrity to report that this election isn't over.”
Then in the run-up to the actual January 6 session of Congress in which the Electoral College votes would be counted for the last time, Sharp touted that “Republicans are relying on Vice President Pence to shift the vote in their favor,” echoing a constitutionally baseless assertion by both Trump and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) that former Vice President Mike Pence had unilateral authority to reject the election results. (Following Pence’s decision to not follow through on such an attempt, some of Trump’s supporters who stormed the Capitol infamously chanted, “Hang Mike Pence” — a sentiment that Sharp is now echoing with his own call for mass executions.)
Following the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6 in an attempt to block Congress from certifying Biden’s victory, Sharp has pursued a two-track response to the events — at once depicting the violent threat as resulting from Biden’s purported illegitimacy as president, but also claiming that the violence was really a false-flag coming from the left. (While it was happening, other OAN figures pitched the attack by “protesters” as a further justification to shut down the certification itself.)
On January 20, Sharp ridiculed the increased security presence in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration, claiming, “If Democrats need thousands of troops to occupy the capital on Inauguration Day, then it seems possible that their candidate wasn't actually elected by the people.” But by March 3, he claimed, “Radical anti-Trump extremists attacked the Capitol on January 6 in an effort to discredit President Trump and his supporters. … History will show it was the Democrats, and not the Republicans, who called for this violence, and no amount of doctored evidence or falsified testimonies will change that.”
The continued effort to delegitimize the 2020 election
Ever since Biden was sworn in, OAN has continued to not only push conspiracy theories that the election was stolen, but also refuse to recognize that the election is even over and Biden is president for the next four years. (An OAN staffer told The New York Times in April that he had been reprimanded for referring to Biden as president in news copy.)
Sharp has also been a purveyor of OAN’s campaign for the Arizona ballot audit — which he said in late March, is needed because “there’s still serious doubts about who’s actually president.” (A month after Sharp’s comment, another OAN host who is closely involved with the audit claimed, “We do not have a legitimate executive branch in power right now.”)
OAN has also repeatedly aired a series of pseudo-documentaries by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who alleges that there was an international conspiracy to rig the voting machines to switch votes from Trump to Biden. (Voting machine vendor Dominion Voting Systems is now suing Lindell, while he is countersuing the company for $1.6 billion.)
In May, Sharp interviewed Lindell, helping to promote Lindell’s promises that the audit would result in Trump being put back in office. And for his part, Sharp urged his viewers to send in donations.
“I just wanted to mention, for anyone who does want to help out in Arizona, that there is a fundraiser right now to help pay for everything,” Sharp said. “You can find it on the website you see on your screen right now.”
And now in Sharp’s telling, the audits should lead to his desired executions “when all the dust settles.”