In response to a massive cancel culture effort designed to destroy One America News Network (OANN), OANN has sued DirecTV and its parent company, AT&T, as well as AT&T Chairman William Kennard. The lawsuit links AT&T and William Kennard to Dominion Voting Systems, which OANN reported on extensively in the aftermath of the 2020 election, and calls into question the motivations of the campaign by left-wing operatives to destroy the network. The campaign to get providers to drop OANN, funded and organized by Media Matters for America (MMfA), began in February 2021. The lawsuit accuses the board of directors of DirecTV of making a “political” decision to remove OANN.
In its lawsuit, Herring Networks, DBA OANN, details the campaign by liberal organizations to get it taken off the air:
On November 8, 2021, 16 liberal organizations (including Media Matters) sent a joint letter to the CEOs of AT&T and DirecTV, stating:
We call on DirecTV to stop carrying OANN. AT&T, you hold a 70 percent equity stake in DirecTV and appoint half of DirecTV’s board. Your equity interest brings with it tremendous influence. We call on you to do the right thing and demand that DirecTV take all available means to end its relationship with OANN, so that its customers are no longer forced to subsidize hate and disinformation.
The lawsuit alleges deep conflicts of interest between Kennard, Dominion, and the Democratic Party:
AT&T Board Chairman Kennard also serves as a member of the Executive Board of Directors of Staple Street, which is the majority owner of Dominion. Kennard’s role with Staple Street creates a conflict of interest for him in anything having to do with Herring because Dominion, owned largely by Staple Street, currently is suing Herring for $1.6 billion.
Kennard was appointed as Chairman of AT&T’s Board on November 6, 2020 — three days after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Around this same time, Staple Street’s Web site underwent a full transformation, and all information about Staple Street’s investment in Dominion and Kennard’s role as a member of Staple Street’s Executive Board of Directors vanished.
Kennard, who is a registered Democrat, has deep ties to the Democratic Party, having been appointed in 1997 as Chairman of the FCC by President Bill Clinton and in 2009 as the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union by President Barack Obama.
On Page 17, the lawsuit alleges political motivations for the removal, based on a conflict of interest with Dominion:
On Friday, January 14, 2022, OAN President Charles Herring spoke with DIRECTV Senior Vice President of Content Rob Thun (“Thun”). Throughout much of Herring’s relationship with AT&T, Thun has been Herring’s primary contact with AT&T and DIRECTV. During that call, Thun informed Charles that DIRECTV decided not to renew the Agreement. Thun informed Charles that the decision was made at the board level and was “political,” implying that outside forces, such as AT&T and/or Kennard (given his role with Dominion’s owner, Staple Street), had influenced the decision. Indeed, Charles later learned that AT&T’s CEO, John Stankey, knew at least two days before that OAN would not be renewed. The news stunned Charles, Robert and Bobby.
AT&T responded to the pressure campaign by Media Matters by denying its involvement in OANN. According to Newsweek:
“AT&T has never had a financial interest in OAN’s success and does not ‘fund’ OAN,” the company said in a Wednesday statement. “When AT&T acquired DIRECTV, we refused to carry OAN on that platform, and OAN sued DIRECTV as a result. Four years ago, DIRECTV reached a commercial carriage agreement with OAN, as it has with hundreds of other channels and as OAN has done with the other TV providers that it carries on its programming.”
“The decision of whether to renew the carriage agreement upon its expiration will be up to DIRECTV, which is now a separate company outside of AT&T,” the statement added.
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that an OAN accountant testified saying the bulk of OAN’s revenue comes from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV.
In an earlier statement sent to Newsweek, AT&T defended that their platforms offer programming across the political spectrum and that the company does not promote one particular view through its funding of OAN.
“DIRECTV offers its customers a wide variety of programming, including many news channels that offer viewpoints across the political spectrum, but does not dictate or control programming on the channels. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong,” an AT&T spokesperson wrote.
On March 10, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote a letter to Bill Morrow, CEO of DirecTV, expressing his concerns about their decision to drop OANN:
Dear Mr. Morrow:
DirecTV recently announced its plan not to renew its contract with One America News Network when it expires this April. You cited a “routine internal review” as the basis for ending your relationship.
This is highly troubling and disappointing. Not just because this is an unwise business decision, but because you are masking what is obviously viewpoint discrimination with neutral corporate-speak; your decision was certainly not based on a “routine internal review.”
Rather, your cancelation of OAN comes after a crescendo of powerful leftwing voices demanded that you take action against them. A recent press release from Media Matters gets to the heart of the yearlong coordinated attack against OAN:
Since February 2021, Media Matters has been campaigning to get OAN’s current cable providers to drop the channel and to prevent prospective providers from picking up the channel. Previously documented OAN’s noxious coverage includes a deadly TV campaign against COVID-19 vaccines, hateful anti-LGBTQ content, and a network-wide assault on elections meant to hype bogus claims of fraud and overturn the 2020 results.
Obviously, these inflammatory accusations against OAN are ridiculous. And even if they weren’t—that is, even if OAN were more accurately construed as simply representing a different perspective from the legacy media’s liberal orthodoxies—that’s precisely what your majority owner AT&T wanted when it signed OAN: viewpoint diversity. Those values appear to have changed dramatically in late 2020 when the legacy media decided Joe Biden was the next president.
My fellow attorneys general and I strongly recommend that you reconsider your present course and renew your contract with OAN in April. Your failure to do so will not only cause you to lose millions of dollars in business, but also drive many millions of Americans to simply cancel your services outright, as President Trump and other leading figures have already called for.
Americans deserve a diversity of voices in their news. I urge you to do the right thing and ensure that they get it.
The legal back and forth promises to get a lot more complicated.
The full lawsuit can be read here.
Originally posted 2022-03-24 11:13:52.