As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump slowly become political rivals ahead of the 2024 presidential election, One America News Network is trying to support them both, remaining firmly in Trump’s camp but also providing excessive promotion of DeSantis.
OAN has, of course, been a stalwart Trump ally for years; showering him with adulation, promoting his extremist policies, attacking his enemies, and spreading pro-Trump conspiracy theories, notably including avalanches of misinformation about the 2020 presidential election. None of this has changed as OAN has ramped up its pro-DeSantis content, which comes as the Florida governor is being discussed as the “successor-in-waiting to Donald Trump’s cult of personality.”
The Daily Beast recently reported that OAN founder and owner Robert Herring donated $20,000 to a PAC working toward DeSantis’ reelection. When asked about the donation, Herring told The Daily Beast that it means “we support DeSantis as vice president.” And the friendliness is mutual: A deputy spokesperson for DeSantis recently deleted several anti-OAN tweets from his account.
OAN host and White House correspondent Chanel Rion has praised DeSantis’ “genius” political maneuvering in potentially deceiving migrants he had transported to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. And OAN reported that frequent network guest and head of the anti-trans American Principles Project Terry Schilling called DeSantis “the exemplar among governors in the fight against the trans agenda” and “probably the best champion for the American family, and for Florida families, we’ve seen in a century.”
OAN reporter Neil W. McCabe frequently delivers these short, pro-DeSantis segments that the network brands as the “DeSantis Debrief,” complete with theme music and a logo. The segments typically promote good news about DeSantis, and sometimes air one of his campaign ads. For instance, McCabe “reported” on a DeSantis ad by simply playing it during news programming on September 7. There was no actual reporting involved. Then, a week later, while touting DeSantis’ endorsements and popularity, McCabe returned to the ad, noting that a Special Olympics golfer had appeared in it to promote his anti-vaccination mandate policies alongside a teenage swimmer who promoted his opposition to trans people in sports.
Another edition of McCabe’s DeSantis Debrief celebrated the governor’s 44th birthday in detail, including noting which song was No. 1 on his date of birth, before defending DeSantis’ migrant flight stunt. McCabe compared the experience to “basically a layover” at an airport, and claimed that since “extremely left-wing” areas love immigration, the migrants are “almost like a birthday present from the birthday boy himself, Ron DeSantis.”
The September 19 edition of McCabe’s DeSantis Debrief continued to defend the governor’s migrant stunt, even porting McCabe’s “birthday present” line into his script for the segment.
“The nation’s youngest governor turned 44,” McCabe said, awaiting his punchline, “but it was the governor handing out presents last night, when he sent two plane loads of border migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.”
The report further noted that DeSantis “was easily the most popular speaker” at the National Conservatism conference, which was full of fascist-adjacent commentary from other speakers, and highlighted some of “his most popular applause lines,” including his promise to send migrants to Delaware and to not “indoctrinate” school children.
Make no mistake: OAN still loves Donald Trump. But as the conservative movement potentially begins to splinter between Trump and DeSantis, OAN is finding room to enthusiastically support both men.