The Washington Post took a deep dive into One America News, once an obscure news network that has recently risen to prominence thanks in part to its consistent positive coverage of Pres. Trump. The San Diego-based OAN, launched in 2013 by millionaire Robert Herring Sr., made its first significant splash in the early stages of the Trump campaign, when the channel became the first to carry his campaign speeches live and in full.
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has a deal to appear on the channel regularly, and the channel’s White House correspondent, Trey Yingst, was called on 27 times in Trump’s first 100 days in office. OAN, which is only available in 30 million homes and averages an audience just 1/7th the size of Fox News’s, also publicly wooed Bill O’Reilly, but to no avail.
The channel is known for its rapid-fire style of reporting, with stories that run well under a minute, and are read by anchors over video footage provided by the AP, Reuters, and RT.
One of the president’s favorite outlets, OAN is described as “a tiny, father-and-sons operation that promises ‘straight news, no opinion,’ promoting itself as the antidote to the Big Three cable news networks’ focus on punditry and the one big story of the moment.”
But a number of current and former OAN staffers believe the “no opinion” part of the slogan is bogus.
“According to internal emails, Herring has directed his channel to push Trump’s candidacy, scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage antiabortion stories, minimize coverage of Russian aggression, and steer away from the new president’s troubles, according to more than a dozen current and former producers, writers and anchors, as well as internal emails from Herring and his top news executives.”
One former OAN producer says that Herring has become “the de facto news director…He has a ton of influence over every aspect of the newscast. He has stories written on his whim.”
“We started out with the premise of news straight down the middle,” added Cassie Leuffen, an anchor at OAN from launch through the 2016 election. “But the bias does reveal itself in the story selection. The owner really felt this was what was needed. He saw the popularity of Trump before almost anybody, and Trump became our bread and butter.”
One of the network’s earliest hires, Christopher Wood, said he was fired in 2015 after he led off a newscast with excerpts from an interview that the family of Michael Brown, the victim in the Ferguson shooting, gave to another network. “That was my downfall,” Wood said. “I got a very, very angry email from Mr. H. saying he wanted the story pulled and we weren’t to run it again.”
That said, OAN’s pro-Trump slant appears to be a working from a business perspective. “The channel is seeing audience growth, influence in Republican circles, and as a potential alternative for conservatives and libertarians who believe Fox’s commitment to a right-wing perspective is weakening.”