OAN Sues AT&T For Bad Court Thingy

Wingnut media outlet One America News is a hot mess of misinformation, and so is the lawsuit it filed last week against AT&T after its subsidiary DirectTV failed to renew the channel's carrier agreement. The Daily Beast, which originally reported the suit, has described the breakup as an "existential threat" to the network, which relies on the telecomm for the vast majority of its revenues.

Pour one out, etc.

In the past three years, OAN blasted out Rudy Giuliani's deranged conspiracy theories, with "reporter" Chanel Rion actually claiming that octogenarian philanthropist George Soros was tailing her around Ukraine as she pursued the "truth" about President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. If there was an election fraud conspiracy or bit of COVID misinformation floating around the wingnutosphere, you could find it on OAN.

And, hey, SHOCKER, the breach of contract case the network filed in San Diego against AT&T and DirecTV is itself premised on a conspiracy theory. Stringboard time!

See, the chairman of AT&T's board, William Kennard, who is also a named defendant, is a registered Democrat and served as Barack Obama's ambassador to the European Union. He also happens to be on the board of Staple Street Capital, the private equity firm that owns a stake in Dominion Voting Systems. (DUN DUN!)

After OAN aired approximately one million hours of programming accusing Dominion of participating in a plot to steal the election from Trump, Dominion sued the network for defamation. So Kennard used his influence to force DirecTV to drop OAN, thereby ensuring its defeat in the Dominion lawsuit by "cutting off [OAN's] ability to earn revenue to help fund its defense."

Yes, for real this is what they're alleging. And no, they don't have any proof, but they're sure it will all shake out in discovery.

They may have a difficult time, however, since the complaint itself points to another plausible explanation for the termination of the relationship, and it is that AT&T was getting publicly hammered after Reuters revealed its relationship with the network in a blockbuster article titled “How AT&T helped build far-right One America News.” Ten paragraphs about AT&T getting publicly attacked by everyone from the NAACP to Media Matters to Greenpeace with massive public demand for it to cut ties with OAN somewhat undercut the prior 20 grafs describing a secret plot to starve it of funds to defend itself in litigation.

The actual claims include breach of covenant, because DirecTV failed to renew the Affiliation Agreement which expires in April of 2022, as was its right. But OAN claims that the 2024 expiration date of an exclusive Advertising Agreement with AT&T gave it the "reasonable expectation" that the Affiliation Agreement would be renewed and was "proof of a commitment to a long-term carriage relationship by AT&T, AT&T Services, and DIRECTV." Which is, uh, creative.

OAN also claims breach of the Affiliation Agreement's non-disparagement clause, because CNN's Brian Stelter called OAN a "poisoned informational well," and HBO's John Oliver said "OAN’s weird combination of far rightwing talking points and dirt-stupid reporting is incredibly dangerous at a time like this.” All of which is just factcheck true, but never mind that, because AT&T owns Warner Media, which in turn owns CNN and HBO, and according to OAN, this imposes an obligation on the parent company to police the editorial and entertainment content on its networks. Which is perhaps not the gotcha these geniuses think it is.

Also, when news of the cancellation came down, OAN host Dan Ball implored viewers to dig up dirt on Kennard.


"You bring me concrete evidence of whatever it may be: cheating on his taxes, cheating on his wife, saying racial slurs against white people," Ball said of Kennard, who is Black. "Whatever it may be. Find it for me. Bring it, and we will air it."

Sounds a wee smidgen disparage-y, TBQH.

In addition to alleging intentional interference with business expectancy and violation of California Unfair Competition Law, OAN seems to suggest a First Amendment claim based on a plot to "impede the right of American television viewers to watch the news media channels and programs of their choice." Which is really not a thing, but anyway they'd like a billion dollars, because oh, hell, why not.

Buncha fuckin' weirdos. Oh, and PS, you know what tort these geniuses didn't allege? Defamation, because California's anti-SLAPP law is no joke. Unlike this lawsuit.

[Complaint / Beast]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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