One America News Network host Dan Ball aired a segment on Wednesday about his recent speech at a California school board meeting, where his mic was cut off after he repeatedly presented misinformation and conspiracy theories about the pandemic.
Ball -- who recently made headlines after interviewing a woman who claimed the vaccine had made her magnetic -- used the August 18 edition of OAN’s Real America with Dan Ball to encourage his audience to “stand up for your rights, stand up for your kids, stand up for your freedoms.” Ball recounted his own experience of taking “a stand” against the “tyrannical and overreaching” mask mandates in his daughter’s school district, saying: “We didn’t get to decide them. Tyrants did.”
Speaking at the August 17 Desert Sands Unified School District meeting, Ball repeatedly misinformed attendees about the coronavirus pandemic and attacked mask-wearing and other public health measures:
- Ball falsely asserted as “a fact” that “615,000 Americans did not die from COVID'' because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had supposedly inflated the pandemic’s death toll. At the time Ball spoke, 623,000 Americans had died from COVID-19, and experts estimate that the death toll is likely higher than reported.
- Ball claimed that of the “over 4 million children [who] contracted COVID in America,” only “0.008%” had severe symptoms or died. As the American Academy of Pediatrics notes, data on how the coronavirus affects children is incomplete due to state-by-state differences in tracking pediatric cases. Medical experts have repeatedly warned that discounting the danger the coronavirus poses to children will lead to an increase in outbreaks and death.
- Ball called masks “facial diapers” and compared mask mandates to “child abuse.” In reality, medical experts have emphasized that children too young to receive the vaccine should wear masks “in public, indoor” spaces to reduce the risk of infection and community spread.
Ball -- identified as “a former local TV anchor” in reporting on the meeting from local paper the Desert Sun -- later caused a ruckus after already speaking twice, when another speaker gave him a third chance to speak by yielding their remaining time. The move was quickly vetoed, yet Ball and other protesters refused to follow meeting protocol and became raucous. The school board president then shut down the meeting following DSUSD policies, prompting Ball to accuse him of enforcing “censorship” and acting “like a spoiled kindergartener.”
Before he was removed, Ball continued to spread misinformation at the event:
- Sharing another lie about the CDC inflating the COVID-19 death toll, Ball asserted that “this administration federally and [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom keep touting those numbers to scare the hell out of you so our kids have to wear masks and maybe get the vax once it’s legalized. Those numbers are not accurate.”
- Referencing a debunked right-wing talking point, Ball attributed his March case of COVID-19 to the “114 nations that are spewing people through our southern border.” Ball has previously told OAN viewers he has not gotten vaccinated and does not wear masks -- and instead supports unproven or debunked treatments like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.
The following night, Ball promised to show a poorly edited image of the school board president wearing a dunce cap “at the end of every show” until he apologized to “all the parents who didn’t get to speak that night when he acted like a spoiled brat and stormed out of the meeting.”
It is not unusual for Ball or OAN more generally to accuse the government of tyranny over basic public health measures. But it seems that the network’s personalities are now trying to influence local policies with that same right-wing misinformation and repeatedly debunked claims about the coronavirus pandemic that they routinely broadcast to their cable audience.