OANN says John Oliver calling them a ‘ragtag band of fascists’ breached its AT&T contract

OANN says John Oliver calling them a ‘ragtag band of fascists’ breached its AT&T contract

On Sunday, Comedian John Oliver’s HBO news show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver had a fun time with One American News Network’s (OANN) recent lawsuit against DirectTV, AT&T, and AT&T Chairman William Kennard. OANN has been facing an existential business crisis as of late. DirecTV announced that it would no longer carry the ultra-right-wing media outlet Herring Networks’ OANN or A Wealth of Entertainment (AWE) after their contracts ended this month.

OANN contests that their whole operation is dependent on DirectTV—making up around 90% of its generated revenue—and is arguing that the exclusive ad sale deal with DirecTV taking them into 2024 is proof that they are contractually obligated to renew the lapsing carrier deal. At the same time, OANN founder Robert Herring Sr. swore in the deposition of an earlier case that OANN was AT&T’s idea, and that they asked for the network to be created. None of this matters for the moment. What does matter is that Oliver’s satirical news and politics show was named in the lawsuit.

This is going to be good.

Oliver begins by pointing out that AT&T, which did own HBO, ended its direct ownership with the new merger of Discovery and Warner Brothers (Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.). “Let me just say this,” Oliver says, putting up his two middle fingers and saying that as of Friday, AT&T no longer had any control over the channel his show streams on. Referring to his two middle fingers, he said: “Which, frankly, is two more bars than you’ve ever had.”

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Oliver talked about how Last Week Tonight has talked about OANN a lot over the last couple of years because it was Trump’s favorite outlet, because of the wild COVID-19 misinformation they have put out there, and finally because of how appalling their recent coverage of the invasion of Ukraine has been. Referring to OANN host Pearson Sharp (supposedly his real name) as “Fascist Vin Diesel,” Oliver showed a clip of Sharp suggesting the shelling of a maternity hospital in Ukraine by Russia never happened. That it was—like Alex Jones talking about the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school—a hoax, with “crisis actors” making up all of the images shown the world.

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It is a reminder that while you may have not been paying any attention to OANN recently, they are exactly as venal as you remember. Oliver then explains that among the many claims in OANN’s lawsuit against AT&T is one saying that AT&T “violated a non-disparagement provision.” Their contention is that because shows that existed on AT&T-owned stations were critical of OANN, this constituted a violation of that agreement. Oliver then lists off the court-filed grievances of the things Oliver’s said:

Pearson Sharp, aka “Decaf Pittbull” or “Fascist Vin Diesel.”
  • Comparing OANN to “Fox News with even less shame and even fewer scruples.”
  • Calling OANN a “ragtag band of fascists”—Oliver went on to finish this beautiful piece of writing, “that are happy to give a platform to batshit election fraud theories from America’s most out of breath pillow fetishist.”

Oliver does lament that the lawsuit doesn’t site the fact that Oliver called Sharp “decaf Pittbull,” saying, “Frankly, I want that entered into the legal record!” Then, in a pretty koan-like bit of writing, Oliver refers back to Sharp’s grotesque handling of the casualties of war, saying: ”I do get that they (OAN) are upset here, just as I get that they are an intellectually bankrupt organization full of opportunistic grifters who’ve done nothing but make this country a worse place. But perhaps this isn’t the time for that and perhaps I am sorry for taking joy in their misfortune and kicking them when they are so clearly down. But on the other hand, perhaps I am not.”

The segment begins at the five-minute mark. Definitely enjoy.

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