On Monday, One America News Network was likely forced by the terms of a legal settlement to air a brief report that “Georgia officials have concluded that there was no widespread voter fraud by election workers who counted ballots at the State Farm Arena in November 2020.” The 30-second report concluded by passively noting, “A legal matter with this network and the two election workers has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties through a fair and reasonable settlement."
But OAN’s highly specific walkback of its own coverage -- including a comparison of false election fraud claims to the JFK assassination -- should not leave the impression that it is giving up on election fraud lies, which are the network’s foundation.
Immediately prior to admitting that officials in Georgia found “no widespread voter fraud” among election workers counting ballots, OAN aired a suspenseful three-and-a-half-minute promotion for right-wing filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s “new, groundbreaking film 2000 Mules,” a thoroughly debunked mess of conspiracy theories using “faulty assumptions, anonymous accounts and improper analysis” about cell phone location data to “prove” widespread 2020 election fraud in Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
On D’Souza’s invite, OAN host Dan Ball attended the 2000 Mules premiere at Mar-a-Lago. Ball and an OAN reporter, Stefan Kleinhenz, performed multiple red carpet interviews, including one with convicted Capitol rioter Brandon Straka. Ball also gave the movie a glowing review:
“After watching this movie, I will say this: There’s not one doubt in my mind that this election was rigged, period. Point blank. End of story. The left can kiss my – yes. What they did to this country is one of the biggest acts of treason in our nation’s history. … I firmly believe every single American, left, right, independent, libertarian, indifferent, you don’t pay attention to politics, I don't care. Watch this movie, and then get back to me. And tell me who’s telling the big lie, Democrats or Republicans?”
On Tuesday, OAN’s Chanel Rion defended the movie’s “damning evidence” of “explicitly illegal” activity, and pushed back against “so-called fact checkers” with location data whataboutism and wild speculation about conspirators “using blue surgical gloves in the dead of night … in an eerily systematic fashion.” Rion concluded the report with the statement that True the Vote, the right-wing nonprofit D’Souza worked with, would release its video footage to “confirm to the naysayers” that “President Biden is as illegitimate a president as the evidence illustrates.”
And OAN’s continuing stalwart support of the Big Lie doesn’t stop with promoting the latest installment in D’Souza’s preposterous career:
- On Saturday, Weekly Briefing devoted a significant portion of an interview with Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake to long-debunked allegations of election fraud, including “SharpieGate,” of which Lake “personally” claimed to have been a victim. Lake told Rion that “we’re going to drag the 2020 election out, … under the spotlight, and we’re going to examine what went wrong. We’ll take that forensic audit, we’re going to find each and every loophole that was used to cheat and steal our vote, and we’re going to fix it.”
- Rion is a co-founder of Voices & Votes, a nonprofit founded with former OAN host Christina Bobb to fund Arizona-style election audits in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia. During her time at OAN, Bobb used Voices & Votes to fund the Arizona audit, while using her OAN coverage of the same audit to fundraise for the group.
- In January, while defending itself against a $1.6 billion defamation suit from Dominion Voting Systems, OAN aired a regular guest’s highly misleading claim that U.S. courts found Dominion machines “to be illegal” prior to the 2020 election.
- That same month, OAN devoted part of an interview with former President Donald Trump to lies about a rigged election. Trump told Bobb, whom he later hired back from OAN, that “you cover this better than anybody, and what you do and what OAN does is so important.”
- OAN devoted large chunks of its summer 2021 programming to the deluded election fantasies of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. The network aired or promoted his many “documentaries” purporting to prove fraud; gave him friendly interviews to push his crusade; advertised his three-day “cyber symposium” over 150 times in one week, then aired over 30 hours of it live; and, on one occasion, gave 2 hours of prime-time coverage up to a livestream of Lindell’s various grievances.
- In March 2021, OAN founder and CEO Robert Herring endorsed further investigation of election fraud allegations, claiming that type of fraud that targeted Trump “probably happened to Roy Moore,” a former GOP Senate candidate whose 2017 special election campaign imploded under reports of child sexual abuse, “and it’s probably happening to a lot of others. We need to investigate this, really. I mean, seriously, the people need to figure out what’s happening.”
A highly specific and likely legally compelled report debunking false claims about ballot counting, in only one location, without even a mention of its previous false reports, is not a change of course for the network. Spreading lies about election fraud is OAN’s bread and butter.