On Sunday night, John Oliver used his Emmy-winning HBO series Last Week Tonight to take shots at his corporate overlord, AT&T.
According to an in-depth Reuters investigation this past week, the disinformation station One America News Network—described by Oliver as “a far-right channel that peddles COVID misinformation and conspiracy theories”—was started by AT&T, which still owns WarnerMedia, the parent company of HBO.
“Yup!” exclaimed Oliver. “Turns out AT&T has been up to some shit. And it is worth noting: AT&T is still technically our business daddy, making OAN our business step-sibling—and not in a hot way.”
As Reuters reported, “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 [left-wing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.’”
“With that help, OAN has grown into the toxic network that it is today—one that’s happy to give a platform to batshit election-fraud theories from America’s most out-of-breath pillow fetishist [Mike Lindell] and also one that, just a few months ago, featured one of its commentators saying this,” explained Oliver, throwing to footage of an OAN anchor staring intently at the camera and saying: “Despite their best efforts, the radical Democrats left fingerprints all over the country providing a trail of evidence that the 2020 election was not only tampered with, but was also overthrown… any American who was involved in these efforts, from those who ran the voting machines to the very highest government officials, is guilty of treason under U.S. Code § 2381, which carries with it the penalty of death.”
“The larger point here is: OAN would be literally nothing without AT&T,” said Oliver. “An OAN accountant reportedly said under oath that AT&T provided 90 percent of Herring Networks’ income. And, as for OAN’s horrendous content, AT&T told us: ‘DIRECTV respects the editorial the channels it carries… Just as AT&T is committed to providing editorial independence for every WarnerMedia show—including this one…’”
“And that is such a relief—especially the last part—because if I may, I’d like to use that generous editorial independence to offer some constructive feedback to AT&T,” Oliver added.
The comedian then ran a few suggested taglines for AT&T, including: “All the business savvy of Quibi without the courtesy of committing corporate suicide.”
With that, he concluded: “Look, AT&T, I know our relationship is a little awkward, especially since you’re trying to spin this business baby off in your deal with Discovery, but while we are still technically related, let me just say this: You’re a terrible company. You do bad things and you make the world worse. Please don’t bother keeping in touch once the merger’s complete—although that really should not be a problem for you. You’re AT&T, it’s not like your messages will go through anyway.”