Late-night host John Oliver doubled down in his criticisms of AT&T this week — his HBO show’s own parent company — after the recent report that the far-right One America News Network is primarily funded by the telecom giant.
On Wednesday, Reuters reporters that OANN — which routinely broadcasts conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the 2020 election to its conservative audience — was actually an idea from AT&T executives, who, according to testimony reviewed by Reuters, asked now-CEO Robert Herring Sr. to make a conservative network to compete with Fox News in 2013.
“Yup, turns out AT&T has been up to some s—,” Oliver said. “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.”
According to Reuters, AT&T has contributed “tens of missions of dollars in revenue” to the network, which has faced lawsuits for its coverage of the 2020 election. In fact, the report found that 90% of OANN’s revenue comes from a contract with television platforms AT&T owns, including DirecTV.
At that, Oliver bristled, before revealing that his show did reach out to AT&T for a comment on the matter.
“The larger point here is OAN would be literally nothing without AT&T,” Oliver. said “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…’”
With that editorial independence, Oliver took a moment to suggest new slogans for his parent company, including: “Assume something was lost in communication” and “All the business savvy of Quibi without the courtesy of committing corporate suicide.”
To end the segment, Oliver made one final plea to the company that may not own the show much longer.
“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,” Oliver said. “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.”
You can watch Oliver’s comments in the video above.