The first thing I learn from One America News Network is that there is a new Rolling Stones flagship store opening on Carnaby Street, where “you can always get what you want.” The next is that Donald Trump has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and held a massively successful rally in North Carolina where he condemned mail-in voting. OAN will then tell me that The Atlantic magazine is full of lies and owned by “America’s new George Soros.”
What I don’t know at this point on Wednesday morning, only 20 minutes into a 16-hour straight viewing of far-right conspiracy network OAN, is that I will watch its highlight reel of Trump’s rally seven times and the attack on The Atlantic eight times. I will watch a segment on Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination, a meaningless stunt by a far-right Norwegian parliamentarian, at least 10 times. I will watch multiple different hosts recite the same introductions and same scripts, sometimes saying the words along with them in my empty apartment. Because OAN blends its outlandish coverage with everyday banality I will come to know that The Rolling Stones memorabilia store is, at its heart, “about the music.”
This has been a breakout year for OAN. For most people, the network is infamous for its conspiracy theories, its employment of far-right activists and White House correspondent Chanel Rion’s absurdly sycophantic questions to the president. (“We’re watching Joe Biden slip very gently into senility, while you’re at the top of your game. What’s your secret?”)
Fact-checking OAN, especially 16-straight hours of it, is basically a Sisyphean task
OAN is ostensibly a news network, with 24-hour coverage and a multimillion-dollar budget. It’s available in at least 35 million households through multiple service providers and has its own streaming app for smart televisions. Trump has repeatedly tweeted praise for the channel and encouraged his followers to watch it. He gave the outlet an exclusive...