When last we checked in with right wing propaganda mill One America News (OAN), the conspiratorial gibberish farm was busy trying to pretend (with the help of numerous Republican AGs) that DirecTV’s decision to boot the network from its cable lineup was part of a vast, diabolical cabal to censor conservatives (it wasn’t, the channel simply isn’t very popular with the broader public).
The “news” outlet, originally created with the funding help of AT&T, primarily functions as a GOP propaganda mill trafficking in no limit of dangerous conspiracy theories and authoritarian fan fiction, ranging from fake election conspiracies to the claim that COVID was created in a North Carolina lab.
OAN is one small part of a 45+ year Republican campaign to replace U.S. journalism, academia, and scientific and policy expertise with distraction, propaganda, and simulacrum, primarily to the benefit of corporations and the nation’s wealthy. Often under the guise of populism (if you hadn’t noticed).
But a new CNN report suggests that OAN may have taken things far further than previously known in its attempt to spread false election fraud conspiracies. You’ll recall that voting machine maker Smartmatic is suing both OAN and Newsmax, claiming the psuedo-news outlets defamed the company as part of their vast and documentably false election conspiracy theories.
CNN claims that during discovery, Smartmatic obtained evidence that in 2021, OAN President Charles Herring emailed Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell a spreadsheet that included Smartmatic employee passwords, violating state and federal privacy laws. Powell pleaded guilty last October to six misdemeanors in Georgia’s election fraud inquiry:
“The company’s lawyers further alleged that, “discovery to date has also uncovered that certain members of the (OAN) executive team appear to have violated state and federal laws regarding data privacy in connection with promoting election fraud claims.”
Smartmatic’s top attorney, Erik Connolly, said in a sworn affidavit that the email exchange with the spreadsheet was among “members of the (OAN) executive team” and “an individual who has already pled guilty to crimes relating to the 2020 election.”
CNN proceeds to inform readers that OAN allegedly sending Smartmatic employee passwords to the Trump campaign may raise “questions” about whether OAN is an actual news organization:
“The pair’s communications about the purported Smartmatic spreadsheet, which have not been previously reported, resurrect questions that have dogged OAN for years regarding its tendency to blur the lines between opinion journalism and brazen political advocacy.”
As we’ve documented in detail, U.S. journalism is being stripped for parts, with what’s left of the corpses of major media brands being shuffled around for quick profits by affluent brunchlords for whom accurately informing the public is a distant afterthought. Local news is in particular trouble, journalists are being fired at a record pace, and creative funding solutions at any scale are largely nonexistent.
While there are some remaining bright spots in journalism (newsletters, smaller writer-owned news orgs, outlets like ProPublica), journalism, at any real scale, is being replaced by something notably worse; namely automated engagement gibberish, non-transparently funded brand influencers, and a parade of interconnected and extremely well-funded right wing propagandists.
You’ll notice that not only have we not developed any meaningful antidote to the propaganda problem, we seem broadly intent on either downplaying it or denying it exists at all. OAN may or may not survive Smartmatic’s frontal legal assault, but its conspiratorial gibberish is only a very, very small part of a much bigger problem we clearly have no meaningful immune response for.
Smartmatic Claims OAN Violated Privacy Laws By Giving Employee Passwords To Trump Campaign
More Law-Related Stories From Techdirt:
A Utah Porn Filtering Bill Is Back, And It’s Very Stupid
ExTwitter CEO Yaccarino Says They Support Censorial KOSA Law And Wants To ‘Make Sure It Accelerates’
Appeals Court Says FBI Violated The Fourth Amendment During Its Raid Of US Private Vaults