Predictions of a “red wave” in the 2022 midterms were false, and One America News Network is now backing the removal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) from their respective positions in House and Senate Republican leadership.
Direct statements from prime-time hosts and interviews with Freedom Caucus members about McCarthy’s leadership -- including the apparent promotion of Rep. Andy Biggs’ (R-AZ) run for speaker of the House -- all suggest that OAN wants to replace McCarthy and McConnell with far-right, “America First” leaders who they think would be more supportive of “MAGA candidates.” Some have even discussed former President Donald Trump as a potential McCarthy replacement.
“There is a storm brewing in Washington, D.C., as we speak,” declared OAN host Dan Ball on the November 14 edition of Real America. “Members of the House Freedom Caucus are threatening to derail Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid, as I think they should.”
“We sure as heck don’t want those old RINOs back,” Ball later added. “And I don’t think Kevin, Mitch, and a lot of them understand that. Their time has come.”
Ball then hosted former Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis, who denounced “the McLeadership, I also like to call them the McMorons,” referring to McCarthy, McConnell, and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel.
“They purposefully — it looks like — purposefully and strategically wanted to tank MAGA candidates in order to craft this narrative that Trump is over and let’s just go back to the establishment candidates,” said Ellis. “This is of course what they wanted in 2016. Trump overcame that narrative in 2016, and he’s going to overcome it again.”
“Your lips to God’s ears, this better happen,” Ball replied.
A similar refrain echoed through OAN coverage.
On Tipping Point, host Kara McKinney complained that “Republicans weren’t really putting up the money for Republican candidates in some of those really key elections.” Her guest, far-right commentator and New York Young Republicans Club President Gavin Wax, replied that “Republican leadership had very little interest in actually growing the caucus, growing the party. They’d much rather keep a tight grip on a small little fiefdom.”
“A lot of pro-Trump conservatives are — they don’t like Kevin McCarthy,” said In Focus host Addison Smith. “I’m not crazy about him either.”
Smith then raised the possibility that Trump would be interested in becoming speaker for a Republican House majority instead. His guest, right-wing radio host Teddy Daniels, commented that “Kevin McCarthy is a prime example of what happens when politicians actually think that they can lead. He failed this nation.”
“It was McCarthy and the NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] actively working against America First candidates in these primaries, where he would rather have a Democrat in those seats,” Daniels said. “McCarthy tanked this midterm — and McConnell — on their own.”
Outside of prime time, OAN continued the drumbeat against Republican congressional leadership. One segment reported that “McConnell may not be the leader of the Senate GOP for much longer” and promoted discontent among other Republicans pushing for “a much-needed change in leadership,” including calls from Trump and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). In at least one instance, it was preceded by a report attacking McConnell for Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) desire to work with McConnell against far-right Republicans. OAN has even promoted Trump’s Truth Social posts attacking McConnell.
OAN has also given heavy airtime to pre-taped interviews with Reps. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Ralph Norman (R-SC), which were edited into one package report about about the Freedom Caucus’ “uncertainty about potential ‘Speaker McCarthy.’” When D.C. bureau chief John Hines asked Perry if McCarthy “has a lock” on the speakership, Perry replied, “I don’t think anybody should have a lock on elected office. You should earn that.” Norman added that nobody had the votes for speaker at the time. “It’s very fluid.”
OAN does, however, appear to be interested in promoting Biggs for House speaker should Republicans win the chamber. The network has aired news segments about him considering a run for speaker and cut to nearly an hour of live coverage of Biggs presiding over a forum on House GOP conference rules. In an interview with Biggs, Hines pressed if there was “any grain of truth or reality to that rumor” that he would challenge McCarthy. Biggs demurred, promising “there will be a challenger tomorrow.” (Biggs himself is now officially challenging McCarthy in the leadership vote Tuesday afternoon.)
In the aftermath of the midterm elections, OAN seems sure of one thing: McCarthy and McConnell should be replaced. As Ball said, “Their time has come.”