Opinion: Conspiracy Theories Fueled by One America News Network

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October 6, 2020

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(NEW YORK) — Reporting the news was initially built on the foundation of being true to the people and providing information in a factual and unbiased way. However, in 1987 the Fairness Doctrine was revoked, resulting in multiple news channels and radio stations creating far-right, biased, conservative information. The Fairness Doctrine was put into place by the United States Federal Communications Commission in 1949 in an effort to ensure that broadcast media was delivering the news in an unbiased, factual, and honest way. When this doctrine was revoked, news stations began to relay information through a one-sided lens that resulted in reporters sharing information that is a reflection of their opinion and may have no basis of truth.

This becomes even more apparent with the creation of Fox News and more recently, the One America News Network (OANN). This channel was created in 2013, is a well-known supporter of the Trump Administration, and provides little to no information on the opposite point-of-view from the Democratic party. While their headquarters are based in California, OANN has expanded to Washington D.C. and New York City. Through their expansion, they have been allowed ample opportunity to reach a larger demographic. This has resulted in opinions being formed throughout the country based on the creation of a station that looks like any other news channel, except for one difference, they do not provide factual information and varying viewpoints.

This station is a direct opposition to Pew’s Core Principles which states that as reporters, we have an obligation to the truth. It is a never-ending job of verifying facts to ensure that we are being honest and loyal to the public and providing all information in an unbiased way. The information that has been presented by OANN over the years is not only biased, but there is no basis of fact and does not share the simple truths of the major developments that have taken place in the country. This organization has made baseless claims that spread misinformation as could be seen as they claimed that a 75-year-old man was “an ANITIFA provocateur,” when the man had been a peaceful activist, according to the New York Times. It is imperative that all news channels focus on these core principles, however, the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine has allowed for OANN and other similar publications to take advantage of this and appeal to the public in a way that dissuades them from any evidence of truth.

The major issue that comes with the surplus of this “fake news” is that the people are unsure whether they can rely on the news in general anymore. An article published by the Pew Research Center in 2017 found that globally, 44% of people believe the news does not present political issues fairly. The One America News Network has built upon these beliefs and are appealing to the demographic of people who believe that the media is being dishonest to the public. This is further exemplified by the Gallup/Knight Poll that was released in April 2020 that revealed 61% of Republicans to have a distrust of the media as they believe that the attacks against reporters are justified, while only 22% of Democrats have a similar viewpoint.

This news source is not a reputable news channel as they do not allow for differing opinions by speaking with Democrats as they seek to only back the misinformation that is already being provided by the president. This can be seen happening on any social media platform, specifically Facebook and Twitter, which amplify the information provided by OANN and other similar news channels. The conspiracy theorists and those believing in the “fake news” schemes then re-share these “articles” as facts and ultimately dive down a rabbit-hole of misinformation, causing them to build their opinions to the point of no return.

This network has also employed a conspiracy theorist by the name of Jack Posobiec who has been working with the station since 2018. He has been a key proponent of the ‘pizzagate’ conspiracy theory, as the ‘murder of Seth Rich’ conspiracy and stated that pipe bombs were found at a Korean War Memorial, with suspects found nearby, none of which was true according to Park Police in Washington, D.C.

This has grown to encompass other theories such as those surrounding the coronavirus as OANN downplays the severity of the situation. The result of these so-called reporters sharing misinformation is the development of those who distrust the media overall and rely on conspiracy theories as though they are fact. OANN has built their news channel upon this platform and is continuing to promote the spread of discord amongst the American public.

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