As OAN loses DirecTV, it continues pushing anti-vaccine lies and conspiracy theories

More than two years into a deadly pandemic, OAN still makes time to inspire fear of the “toxic, experimental injections” which in reality could save its viewers lives

As the official COVID-19 death toll nears 1 million in the U.S., far-right cable news network OAN is warning its audience about “the dog-murdering and orphan-killing doctor, Anthony Benito Fauci,” and fearmongering against the “toxic, experimental injections” that in reality can help prevent its viewers from dying of COVID-19.

The network, which has long been a source of pandemic-related misinformation, recently lost its major carrier, DirecTV, but the development hasn't changed its approach to spreading lies.

OAN reporter Pearson Sharp, an Infowars favorite who previously lied that the vaccines alter people’s DNA, recently dismissed COVID-19 as a “mild cold” and said its fatality rate was “equivalent to a bad flu season.”

In addition to downplaying COVID-19 and attacking Fauci with debunked conspiracy theories, Sharp fearmongered that “at some point, they're just going to start saying you need your first annual COVID shot and then reset the clock … as the bodies keep piling up from all the people mutilated, injured, or even killed by these toxic, experimental injections.” Citing Fauci’s comments supporting natural immunity for someone who is already ill with influenza -- not COVID-19 -- Sharp claimed that vaccines were “never about preventing any kind of infection. In fact, growing bodies of evidence even suggest the so-called vaccine may be causing infections itself -- or, at best, permanently damaging our own body’s natural immune system.”

The segment first aired on OAN’s last full day on DirecTV, formerly the network’s biggest carrier and financial lifeline.

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Citation From April 4, 2022, programming on One America News Network

As usual, Sharp is not alone at OAN in pushing absurd claims about COVID-19 vaccines:

  • On April 4, an OAN anchor cited statistics from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to falsely claim that “experimental shots” of COVID-19 vaccines “have caused 38,000 cases of heart inflammation, along with 13,500 heart attacks and almost 50,000 permanent disabilities.” Throughout the pandemic, right-wing media have misrepresented data from VAERS, an unverified database which does not actually determine if a vaccine caused the self-reported event; a disclaimer on the site even notes that its information may be “incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable.” 
  • Promoting a “Defeat the Mandates” rally in California on his April 8 show, host Dan Ball brought on pro-ivermectin Dr. Pierre Kory, who claimed, “They’ve taken away our individual rights, and they’ve done so illegitimately. These vaccines do not prevent the spread. … It now has negative efficacy.” Kory also said the vaccine mandates are especially unnecessary since COVID-19 “in its current state, is actually quite mild.” Ball asserted that “it’s not a real vaccine, it’s not fully approved, it’s all bogus,” and Kory falsely whined that a vaccine requirement for employment “actually violates the Nuremberg Code. It’s immense coercion for an experimental medical intervention.”
  • Over a chyron fearmongering about a “pandemic of the vaccinated,” Ball said on April 11 that “we’re seeing massive outbreaks … and they’re new strains, and the vax isn’t even stopping it,” speculating that the vaccines are somehow creating new variants. His guest, a pro-ivermectin doctor, agreed with Ball, saying that “immune pressure” from vaccines could be “creating new variants every time they get infected.” He also said that “the virus was actually released by a bad actor, and new variants are also being released at opportune moments, in opportune places, for political reasons. And right now, perhaps the only reason we don’t have one is because politically, it’s inopportune” for the Biden administration.
  • Complaining about booster shots for children, Ball claimed on April 15 that he “shouldn’t even call it a vaccine, since technically it doesn’t follow the guidelines of the true definition of a vaccine.” He instead called the vaccines an “untested experimental shot” and asked viewers, “Will you be shooting up your kids with it?”

COVID-19 vaccines are and always have been safe and effective at reducing the risk of serious illness. But OAN is continuing to play its role in the right-wing media ecosystem by sowing fear and doubt against them, putting its audience at risk.