We should have known when they made the Death Star logo

Mary and I are planning on getting new phones in the near future, and we’d even consider switching networks — we’re on T-Mobile, but Google-Fi is tempting. The one thing that is off the table is AT&T, and if we had AT&T now, we’d be rushing to ditch it. The revelation that they built OAN, the rabid conservative network that out-foxes Fox, is just too appalling. The money and the incentive was provided by AT&T.

OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring Sr has testified that the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives.

“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring said during a 2019 deposition seen by Reuters. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [leftwing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”

Hold it right there: name these seven leftwing news networks. Please. If they mention CNN or MSNBC, centrist/conservative channels, I could use the laugh.

Since then, AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue, court records show. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV, according to 2020 sworn testimony by an OAN accountant.

Herring has testified he was offered $250 million for OAN in 2019. Without the DirecTV deal, the accountant said under oath, the network’s value “would be zero.”

Here’s a sample of OAN’s quality news information, subsidized by AT&T.

In case you’re confused, the people he’s accusing of “overthrowing the election”, who will be exposed by the audits in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin and who should be executed, are not the insurrectionists who attempted a coup at the goading of an ex-president — no, he wants the people behind the valid election apparatus of the United States murdered. Thanks, AT&T!

Let me know soon if you get news that T-Mobile has been funding the Taliban, or Google has been a front for Hydra, or Sprint is planning to blow up the Moon. Also, if you find any of those mysterious American leftwing news sites, let me know in the comments.


  1. wzrd1 says

    Interesting, given that the real cash for them and newsmax was Russian oligarch money.
    I honestly wish that I was joking, but it just was that blatant.

  2. robro says

    I could change my cellphone service, but I need Internet access at home for work. For that I’ve got two choices: AT&T and Comcast/Xfinity. You rightly decry the first. The second basically underwrites Fox News. What to do?

  3. raven says

    I had a bad experience with AT&T decades ago, and refused to ever do business with them again.
    They are a predatory and unethical company that was used to being a monopoly.

    At the time of deregulation of long distance rates and landlines, AT&T was my phone company.
    I made a short call to the next state and got a $30 bill, which was a huge price jump.
    While I was trying to figure out what happened, a few weeks later I got a letter from a collection agency threatening to do something terrible if I didn’t pay it.
    I paid the bill and immediately switched to a deep discount long distance company that I still have that was charging a small fraction of AT&T.

    What they were doing is raising their long distance rates sky high and counting on some people being inattentive or old with cognitive problems to just pay it.

    I’ve never done business with AT&T again.

  4. christoph says

    @ raven, #3: I had a similar experience with AT&T, found they were overcharging me for long distance.
    BTW, Consumer Cellular is a good cell phone provider.

  5. microraptor says

    I was not remotely surprised to hear about this given AT&T’s long support for the Tea Party and other far-right political groups.

  6. mikeschmitz says

    T-mobile’s 55+ plan is similar to google fi’s unlimited plus at 35 each line instead of 50. I would rethink the idea of switching

  7. birgerjohansson says

    Wasn’t AT &T previously named ITT, the company involved with the coup in Chile, the original 9/11 ?

  8. Dennis K says

    Wife and I renewed our contract with AT&T a couple months ago (along with new phones). Then this revelation.

    To switch providers, we’d be required to “buy out” the two-year AT&T contract first. That’s what you get for signing on the line.

    So, we’re stuck. Not that I have much hope for the future of US democracy anyway, but here I sit, having committed myself to support this shit-stain company.

  9. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    When I was in college, I hated Comcast. They took weeks to realize they had installed our cable incorrectly so that we would have signal loss in the apartment.

    After years of dealing with AT&T, I would celebrate with a ticker tape parade if Comcast served our area properly.

  10. says

    Since I have time to comment, instead of just reading, for the first time in weeks:

    @#11, birgerjohansson: No. ITT and AT&T are two distinct companies. Both are still around. (And AT&T predates ITT by about 4 decades.)

    Let me know soon if you get news that T-Mobile has been funding the Taliban, or Google has been a front for Hydra, or Sprint is planning to blow up the Moon. Also, if you find any of those mysterious American leftwing news sites, let me know in the comments.

    Google has been conspicuously evil for years. They own Youtube, and have for a long time now, so that algorithm which pitches neonazi and alt-right suggestions for practically everything, including stuff targeted at toddlers, is their baby — as is all the extremely dodgy profiteering off of other people’s work and changing ad revenue sharing arbitrarily to exclude more content creators. Android and Chrome are transparently data-collection operations to spy on consumers — and recently Chrome became much more overt with it, whereas Android has always been obvious spyware (as you will learn if you spontaneously mention a purchasable item while on the phone, and then watch the ads you’re served). Google and/or its parent company Alphabet incidentally holds, or possibly merely held, an interest in 90% of Internet advertising as of a few years ago. They constantly get caught breaking the law to spy on people, as in this case (but there are plenty of others), and treat it the cost of doing business. For about a decade, they were either the biggest spender on lobbying in the US government, or in the top 3, although they have now fallen down the list. They cooperate with the NSA to help them spy on citizens, and collaborated with the US military to help build the targeting system drone bombers use to “accidentally” kill civilians (as was made public around the time they explicitly dropped “don’t be evil” as their corporate motto). They own Nest, the doorbell camera company, and push them at extremely low prices — but won’t tell you about the fact that they give law enforcement the ability to watch the feed at any time, and won’t let you shut that off.

    Frankly: Google is the main reason I keep using Apple products. Apple may overcharge you somewhat up front, but they don’t immediately shove a bunch of tentacles down your throat to try and turn you into another data collection point the way Google does, and Google is an enthusiastic participant in a lot of unsavory authoritarian boot-stomping initiatives — although somehow the media doesn’t mention it that much. (I saw an article a few years ago which mentioned casually that reporters don’t like to criticize Google because their jobs have become so much easier thanks to the search engine part of the company. That couldn’t possibly be related, could it?)

  11. robro says

    Mike Smith @ #9 — If MSNBC is “liberal” does that make their former contributors Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham liberal? Is Joe Scarborough liberal? Was it liberal to cancel Donahue because he voiced opposition to the Iraq War? MSNBC is not Rachael Maddow. MSNBC is Comcast, and as I noted above, Comcast underwrites Fox. Comcast and it’s subsidiaries are not “liberal” they are just exploiting the phony liberal-conservative dichotomy to garner audience share, lock more people into the same simplistic mindlessness, and of course, sell advertising.

  12. Dennis K says

    robro @15 — Your last sentence is the quintessential motivation of all providers of any service and/or products in the USA. It’s a matter of time before even seemingly neutral companies (e.g. McDonald’s) throw themselves into this mix. A dangerous game, but who cares when short-term profits are dangling on the stick.

    We’re fucked.

  13. consciousness razor says

    If that includes neoliberals, it’s certainly accurate. That just has nothing to do with “the left.”

    Some other MSNBC people: Tucker Carlsen, Chuck Todd, Nicolle Wallace, Andrea Mitchell

  14. Alex Hatheway says

    These people are talking about mass murder. Maybe we should do something besides switching our internet provider.

  15. davidc1 says

    Is it true that in America you don’t pay a line rental ?I am with BT for my Broadband ,I don’t use the phone because it is too expensive .I am with Vodaphone for my mobile ,which are ot too bad .

  16. unclefrogy says

    when money is your primary motive and reason for being where else would it end up?
    The realization that AT&T was / is a monster is not something new. it was well known back in ’67 with the making of The President’s Analyst
    they even tried to “break up” the monopoly 1987 which has been such a great success and their influence has been so diminished that they have effectively regained much of their former assets.and all of the existing competition act much the same anyway. With so much money at play I do not see any way forward that will be any way better in the long run.
    I am a poor man so I have to make my choices with that in mind

  17. acroyear says

    PZ was right in his original – MSNBC and CNN are moderate on the original political spectrum. They are only ‘left’ because assholes like Brooks and Will have managed to let the definition of ‘moderate’ and ‘middle’ be “between the parties” rather than the original poly-sci definition of the realms of radical-liberal-moderate-conservative-reactionary.

    CNN and MSNBC are conservative economically, preserving the institutions – none of them are gung-ho about, say, promoting single payer. That they are critical of the right-wing is par for the course, because the right-wing of this country is so way beyond reactionary – working to undo institutions and actions with no replacement. So only by the right-wing boogieman is there this idea that anybody critical of the right-wing must be an extreme leftist.

  18. Peter Bollwerk says

    For what it’s worth, I switched from AT&T to Ting and it’s not too bad. Internet speeds aren’t as good, but I’m on wifi most of the time, so I don’t care too much. My bill went from $75 to $25 though. Worth it!

  19. lochaber says

    I don’t use my phone a lot, and I use minimal data, and rarely actually talk to people on it, so I may be a bit of an edge case, but I’ve been pretty happy with google fi. I’ve been on them for a few years or so. I live in an urban area, so that might affect things, but I’ve had much better reception with them (using a google fi phone), then I previously did with a t-mobile phone. I like how their phones can switch twixt different networks, and also use wifi (which might be important to our dear leader, I’m assuming like most college campuses, there is decent wifi in his workplace, and also that he has it in his residence…)

    I pay something like ~$25/month for my phone, and have gotten a couple phones free or nearly so through some promotional sales and such. But, yeah, I don’t really download apps, use social media, or much aside from google maps, and sometimes email from my phone. Don’t look at the reddit forum for google fi, it’s pretty much populated solely by people who tried to game the discounted phones and got caught and denied discounts/rebates. I’m loathe to side with corporations, but there is a special kind of silly on that sub…

    I’m turning luddite, and I’m really tempted to try and go back to a flip-phone, but the access to googlemaps, and their handling of public transit is too valuable for me to give up just yet.
    Although, at this point, I’m almost considering getting two different phones/sim cards, one for a flip phone, and one for my actual phone, just so I can have a legitimate non-smart/flip phone for work and others who keep trying to push me to download all kinds of questionable “apps”…

    If only I could afford a lawn to yell at younger folk to get off of…

  20. mistershelden says

    Two actual left wing news sources in America: Democracy Now and The Real News Network
    There may be others but nothing I’ve seen. Calling CNN/MSNBC ‘left’ is a joke, obviously.

  21. Ridana says

    My guess is that he was counting ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and CNN/Headline News. For the other two, maybe PBS and CSPAN? That’s all I can think of for newscasts on tv. Whatever he was thinking, anything not Fox or OANN is leftist. Maybe he wasn’t thinking at all and just threw out a number.

    Isn’t there recently a third rabid rwnj news channel online that’s even more extreme than OANN? America’s Voice or something like that? Who’s funding them?

    I’d been thinking of going back to ATT because having my landline via Comcast means I’m totally cut off when they drop the ball two or three times a month and I have no phone, cable or internet. Guess I won’t be doing that now.