Sometime around or after July 2016, Ernest Champell joins One America News Network as a writer. On his first day, the staffer assigned to show him around lets him know that if he works here, he better like Russia.
This story goes public in 2019 when the Daily Beast reports on the inner workings of the far-right conspiracy and propaganda network, with interviews from a handful of former employees.
Ernest Champell realized there was something unusual about One America News Network during his first day on the job as a writer, when the young staffer assigned to show him the ropes announced matter-of-factly, “Yeah, we like Russia here.”The Daily Beast
Throughout 2019 and 2020, the network collaborates with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and at least two Russian agents — Andriy Derkach and Trump official Michael Caputo — to bolster Kremlin propaganda against Joe Biden and Ukraine.
In 2021, One America News Network is outed as an asset for Russia’s election interference efforts in the US.
At first Champell found the newsroom dynamic weirdly fascinating. “They would do hit jobs on politicians,” he said. “Herring would come into the newsroom and say, I want a negative piece about this person.” But Champell couldn’t stomach OANN’s support for Russian propaganda, he said, and he finally walked away after four months.
“If you noticed, the far right wing likes Russia,” he said. “Why? Because Russia’s an all-white country that suppresses Muslims and all that kind of stuff. They wish America was like that, so it all makes sense.”The Daily Beast
The Daily Beast report does not say exactly when Champell joined OAN, but Champell says it was around the time of the Seth Rich conspiracy. That conspiracy took off in the summer of 2016, after a bulletin was released by Russia’s SVR intelligence agency.
The conspiracy was also promoted heavily on Fox News. Behind the scenes, Fox collaborated with a private investigator to fabricate “evidence” to prove the conspiracy.
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