Commentary

AT&T must to cut its ties with far-right OANN News | Michael Coard

Whenever you see corporate-sponsored treason and racism, say something. Even better, do something

(Screen Capture via The Philadelphia Tribune).

By Michael Coard

As a columnist, I do extensive research before expressing my opinion on any given topic. And based on my most recent research, it is my opinion that AT&T not only finances treason but also racism as well.

Michael Coard (Twitter)

First, allow me to define “treason.” Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution defines it as follows: “Treason … shall consist … in … adhering to … enemies … (by) giving them aid and comfort.” And U.S. Code at 18 U.S.C. Section 2381 similarly defines it as follows: “Whoever, owing allegiance to … (one’s own nation), … adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. …” is guilty of treason. Jan. 6, 2021 was a day of treason, deadly treason in fact. More about that later.

Second, allow me to define “racism.” Merriam Webster defines it as “the systemic oppression of a ‘racial’ group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another.” And as an essential component of “racism,” Merriam Webster includes “white supremacy,” which it defines as “the social, economic, and political systems that collectively enable white people to maintain power over people of other races.”

One America News Network (OANN) is racist. More about that, too, later.

Here’s the background regarding AT&T’s financing of treason and racism.

In a powerfully revealing and meticulously detailed October 6 article entitled, ‘How AT&T helped build far-right One America News,” John Shiffman of Reuters disclosed that “One America News,” the far-right network whose fortunes and viewership rose amid the triumph and tumult of the … [Trump] administration, has flourished with support from a surprising source: AT&T Inc., the world’s largest communications company.”

AT&T played a key role “in creating and funding OANN, a network that continues to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic.” But it’s worse than that, much worse than that. In my opinion, OANN is Fox (so-called) News on steroids or — even more accurate — Nazis in suits or Klanners without robes.

Although AT&T publicly tries to downplay its ties to OANN, the founder and chief executive of OANN has testified in a lawsuit that “the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives.” He actually said that! Shortly afterward, reveals Reuters, “AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue.”

It gets worse. Court documents include a statement by an OANN attorney, as noted by Reuters, that “AT&T was keeping OANN afloat.”

Furthermore, “Ninety percent of OANN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV,” which AT&T purchased in 2015, and of which AT&T retains a 70 percent share.

Moreover, in 2019, OANN’s aforementioned founder and chief executive “testified [that] he was offered $250 million [by AT&T] for OANN.” And as an OANN accountant testified, if there had been no AT&T-initiated DirecTV deal, OANN’s value “would be zero.”

The cozy AT&T/OANN business and buddy relationship is made clear in a court document that includes a written promise by OANN to “cast a positive light” on AT&T during OANN’s broadcasts.

Evidence of Treason

Jan. 6, 2021. Need I say more? Suffice it to say that, as Reuters noted, supporters of former President Donald Trump “… including at least one carrying an OANN flag, stormed the U.S. Capitol” on that day. And during that storming, they engaged in an attempted coup d’etat of a democratically elected government and in an intended gallows-lynching of the former vice president as well as an intended assassination of several congresspersons. Despite that, AT&T continues its profitable ties to OANN- whose broadcasts not only fomented the treasonous violence of that day but whose broadcasts also continue to praise the treasonous thugs of that day.

By the way, in that very same month, installations for the “OANN app … spiked … to 517,000.” Shouldn’t AT&T be concerned more about country patriotism over corporate profit?

Evidence of racism

OANN hates anything that ends white supremacy and promotes racial justice. Although it has absolutely no idea whatsoever what Critical Race Theory (CRT) is, it is psychotically opposed to CRT and relentlessly highlights hosts and guests who ignorantly disparage it. For example, one guest recently and incredibly and stupidly stated that the battle to reject CRT is “the civil rights issue of our time.” That guest didn’t say racist voter disenfranchisement or racist gerrymandering or racist police brutality or institutional racism was “the civil rights issue of our time.” He said it was the need to reject CRT.

Speaking of racist voter disenfranchisement, the New York Law School-based Brennan Center for Justice points out that “Between January 1 and July 14, more than 400 bills that included provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states. (And) during that same time, 18 states have (already) enacted 30 laws that make it harder for people to vote.” And the “people” being referred to are obviously Black, brown and red. But AT&T-financed OANN doesn’t care about that.

Oh, and it’s not just CRT that OANN opposes. It also fanatically opposes Black Lives Matter, equitable hiring, livable minimum wage, prison reform, affirmative action, educational equality, universal health care, and everything else that promotes racial justice.

Because of that and similar reasons, NAACP President Derrick Johnson on Oct. 6 proclaimed, “We are outraged to learn that AT&T has been funneling tens of millions of dollars into OANN since the network’s inception. As a result, AT&T has caused irreparable damage to our democracy. The press should inform the American public with facts, not far-right propaganda and conspiracy theories.”

I agree with the NAACP. And I say that AT&T must be made aware that Americans, at least most of them, don’t condone treason and racism. Accordingly, we (i.e., the anti-treason and anti-racism people) all must make that clear to AT&T by supporting the Free Press Action in its petition drive and its social media activism.

Whenever you see corporate-sponsored treason and racism, say something. Even better, do something.

An attorney and radio host, opinion contributor Michael Coard is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this piece first appeared. His work appears most Tuesdays on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Follow him on Twitter 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.