CEO Robert Herring reveals connection in 2019 court statement
A Reuters report reveals how AT&T played a major role in creating and funding the conservative news network One American News (OAN).
According to OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring Sr., the report details how the telecom giant helped create OAN because they allegedly wanted a “conservative network”.
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“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring testified in court. “They only had one, which was Granthshala News, and they had seven others. [leftwing] Party. When he said so, I jumped on him and built one.”
The court testimony was regarding a former OAN employee who filed a labor lawsuit against the network. Among those who testified was an OAN accountant who said that AT&T provided ninety percent of OAN’s revenue and that if AT&T had not purchased DirecTV in 2015, the value of the OAN would be “nil.”
AT&T spokesman Jim Greer declined to comment on the relationship between OAN and AT&T, but said the company wants to provide a wide variety of content for customers.
“We have always sought to provide a variety of content and programming that will be of interest to customers, and do not direct or control the programming on the channels we play,” Greer said. “Otherwise any suggestion is wrong.”
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AT&T issued a statement after Reuters published its report, saying it “has never had a financial interest in the success of OAN and does not ‘fund’ OAN.”
In response to the comment, a spokesperson for AT&T sent the same statement to Granthshala News.
“AT&T has never had a financial interest in the success of OAN and does not ‘fund’ OAN. When AT&T acquired DIRECTV, we refused to move OAN to that platform, and OAN as a result sued DIRECTV,” the statement read. “Four years ago, DIRECTV entered into a commercial carriage agreement with OAN, as it has with hundreds of other channels and as OAN has done with other TV providers that do its programming. DIRECTV offers programming including several news channels. Offers a wide variety. Offers a wide variety of viewpoints, but it does not control or control the programming on the channels. Any suggestion is otherwise incorrect. The decision to renew the Carriage Agreement upon its expiration will depend on DIRECTV, which is now a separate company out of AT&T.”
However, Reuters noted that court filings provided by Herring suggested adding monthly fees of up to $57 million as part of a deal with AT&T. The company said the numbers were incorrect but declined to provide further details.
Herring reportedly maintained a relationship with AT&T since 2006. Some details of the relationship were made available through a 2019 court statement unrelated to AT&T. There, Herring described the reasons for creating the OAN.
“To make money, number one,” Herring said. “But number two, is that AT&T told us … they wanted a conservative network.”
“So,” the lawyer said, “AT&T determined the kind of network they wanted. Because there was an opportunity, you jumped on it?”
“Yes, sir,” answered Herring.