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OAN Owner Robert Herring Sr. is Setting the Record Straight

“We don’t report the popular narrative, we report the truth, and that tends to make enemies.”

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Photo Credit: One America News Network

At 80-years-young Robert Herring Sr. has a lot of wisdom to convey, if you’ll let him. “We rented an old railroad boxcar to live in,” Herring recalled to Barrett News Media in an email exchange. For years his father, Alfred Shelby Herring, worked in California and sent money home to Louisiana. Saving what they could the family of 4 reunited in California. “Things were pretty tight for a while,” Herring said of his youth.

As a child he attended school and found work on the side by shining shoes. At 12, Herring was working alongside his father on DiGiorgio Farms. “I had to lie and say I was older than I really was,” Herring added. “I worked on the grape vines, crawling under them on my hands and knees through the dirt and mud to straighten them out and keep them clean and healthy so they’d grow properly.” The money he earned helped pay for the family’s food and rent.

Soon after, the Herrings moved to Los Angeles. His father got a better job working in the oil fields. “[My father] ended up having a pretty serious fall and after that he couldn’t work anymore,” Herring said. A few months after the fall Herring’s father passed away at 55. “We were all on our own, my mom and sister and I. I had to support our family, I was just a teenager,” Herring recalled.

His mom working overnights, and Herring delivered newspapers to “make ends meet.” His journalistic roots run deeper than just delivering papers. “[I] didn’t much get along with the people running the [high] school, so I started a newspaper called the Inky Press,” Herring shared. “I started publishing stories they didn’t care for.”

He was offered a punishment and ordered to apologize but instead Herring made his own way. “I left the school. I took a test and got the rest of my high school credits and I was done with it.”

Herring got a job cleaning eggs, and from there stocked shelves in a store, fell in love and got married (for the first time). “I was about 18 years old at this point, and that’s when I went to work for AT&T.”

Driving AT&T’s CEO around in the company car wasn’t enough so Herring started a side hustle. “I started grooming dogs, and wouldn’t you know, that turned out to be a pretty good gig. The pay was surprisingly good, so I quit AT&T and opened up a pet shop,” Herring said.

He opened a second pet shop before, “I found after a while I didn’t really care for running a pet shop.” His next job, “Driving a concrete truck, which was a lot of fun but I wasn’t very good at it,” Herring said.

Thereafter, Herring made gas ranges for cooking before moving on to circuit boards. Working from the ground up he made enough connections and bought his first circuit board company. “My first day on the job, I went around contacting all the employees who were let go [by the old owners], and told them they could have their jobs back, which was a great move.”

From 1980 through the millennium, Herring built and sold his first company then built and sold a second circuit board company. In the process, he met President Ronald Regan and became friendly with the President’s son, Michael. Herring also went though 2 divorces. After selling his last company Herring did something he’d never done before. “I used the time to step back and see what I wanted to do with my life.” He married his current wife in 2000.

Ready for a new challenge Herring started Herring Networks in 2003. “I figured since I loved watching TV, it’d be fun to start my own television channel,” Herring recalled, “I thought people would probably be interested in watching stories about living the good life, traveling and nice houses and cars and that sort of thing.” Wealth TV was created but it wasn’t enough for Herring, so in 2013 he launched OAN, One America News Network.

OAN is widely considered by legacy and new wave media outlets to be one of the most conservative networks in America. Many critics call them ‘Far-right.’ However, in a blind bias survey conducted by All Sides Media they found OAN to be ‘Right Leaning,’ demonstrating less bias than their competitor Newsmax, who scored ‘Right.’ The same survey rates OAN as equally ‘Right Leaning’ as Fox News, with a score of 3.10. All Sides Media rates outlets on a scale of -6 (left) to 6 (right) 0 being centered or neutral in their reporting).

Herring feels the mischaracterization is because of legacy media. “The problem is the media is quick to jump to conclusions and paint their own version of events. We don’t report the popular narrative, we report the truth, and that tends to make enemies.”

Enemies like Dominion, who allege OAN made unfounded claims about their technology rigging the 2020 election. While the network settled one defamation lawsuit earlier this year, there are several others pending. All of which could mean financial stress for the network. When asked to speak on it Herring said, “I can’t talk about Dominion or any of our lawsuits, for obvious reasons.”

Herring wants to set the record straight with his critics. He admits, “At one point I supported Hillary Clinton—and I even voted for Obama!” He later added, “We report the news, just the facts, as we find them. I think that’s what really sets us apart from everyone else.”

Looking to the future Herring has a lot of concerns. “Things are worse than I’ve ever seen before. Not in my 80 years have I seen things this bad. We’re more divided than ever.” Herring added “People out there are killing each other over the dumbest things and it doesn’t have to be this way.”

After the lawsuits from 2020 are done Herring’s goal for OAN is simple. “We’re going to get back to doing what we do best: reporting on the news and giving the American people the stories they can’t find anywhere else.”

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1 Comment

  1. Fush Yumeng

    January 3, 2024 at 11:09 am

    “we report the truth”.

    Like when you declared Roy Moore the winner over Doug Jones in the election for Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat?

    https://web.archive.org/web/20171213022917/http://www.oann.com/roy-moore-sweeps-alabama-election-to-win-senate-seat/

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BNM Writers

Proof That Both CNN and Fox News Manipulate Their Audiences

Playing with numbers and technicalities is a function of what the media does today. Since the average person just reads the headline, viewers will likely move on if it confirms their own bias.

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When news organizations collide, journalism loses. Last week, CNN posted on X saying “US inflation cooled down in January, offering some relief for Americans who have suffered through the steepest price hikes in four decades.” The same day Fox News posted “BREAKING: Inflation rises faster than expected in January as high prices persist.”

While these are seemingly opposite statements, both can be true at the same time. More importantly, both of these outlets are manipulating their audience.

People like their own opinions and want those opinions verified by others. This is what social media has done to news: You read the post, see your opinion is valid, and then move on to the next clickbait (confirmation bias). More importantly, both of these tweets are true because one is based on an estimate, and one is based on actual numbers.

Looking at CNN, while their post on X seems positive, their business headline is a little less positive, “Inflation cooled last month, but some price hikes continue to cause pain.” The change from tweet to headline is striking. One says Americans are getting inflation relief, the other says inflation continuing to cause pain. In today’s world of “Read the headline and move on,” this is why people feel CNN lies. Its post is in conflict with the headline— even though both are true statements.

It’s not until you read the article that people can see how this is possible. The outlet notes overall inflation did cool when comparing January 2023 (6.4%) to January 2024 (3.1%). Four sentences into the article it says, “CPI rose by 0.3% in January.” It goes on to break down why inflation is still high and causing pain in the pockets of Americans. Although the X post is factually correct, people on the right side of the political spectrum feel CNN is untrue because they see the inflation problem in their bank account.

Meanwhile, the Fox News X post and Fox Business headline are identical, “Inflation rises faster than expected in January as high prices persist.” However, the keyword here is “expected.” Inflation did cool year-over-year. However, because Fox is comparing the January 2024 number to what experts expected the number to be, what they have posted is factually correct. This nuance is sometimes lost on readers.

The article does not mention inflation is down year-over-year. However, nine sentences into the article, the business outlet says, “Inflation has fallen considerably from a peak of 9.1%.” The nuance of “expected” combined with the lack of mentioning year-over-year inflation is down is why the left side of the political spectrum believes Fox lies.

Let’s be clear, neither CNN nor Fox News have lied (on this one specific topic). They both chose to present the same data differently. It also needs to be noted, CNN and Fox News are not the only outlets that do this. They all do. Playing with numbers and technicalities is a function of what the media does today. Since the average person just reads the headline, viewers will likely move on if it confirms their own bias. The problem is twofold.

  • Facts are no longer direct but skewed to fit a narrative.
  • Some viewers accept headlines and posts without diving deeper into the article.

We have been trained to share a headline without reading the article. We’ve known this since 2016 when Columbia University and the French National Institute found 59% of shared social media links were never read. We’ve gone from headlines selling newspapers, forcing people to read the articles, to headlines being shared on social media, but people won’t read the articles.

This is only a small part of why The Messenger failed: neutrality. The sentiment of unbiased news was well-intentioned. However, America has lacked unbiased news since 1987 when the Fairness Doctrine was abolished. Many on the left believe this has helped right-leaning outlets. This is false. Not only has it benefited both sides of the aisle, it can be argued the progressives have benefited more than the conservatives (but that is a different article for a different day).

When news outlets collide, the American public loses. Not because we lack news, but because we lack the ability to read the full scope of the issues in one place. Outlets are not forced to present all sides of the political argument or present the entirety of data sets. Additionally, news is not being fully read. Headlines are now king. Shares, clicks, and likes keep the lights on in newsrooms. Most importantly, facts are now nuanced. This forces debate instead of continuity and cohesion.

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BNM Writers

Does Dealing With Criticism Ever Get Easier?

Engage in the content of the criticism and ignore the rest – or at least take the high road. If that gets difficult, end the conversation.

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A photo of the word Truth written on a typewriter

Thick skin. If you work in media, you gotta have it. If you don’t, you either won’t last or you won’t sleep – or both.

Even if you are neutral politically, super nice, and in it for all the right reasons, there always will be people who criticize you, and some will even make it personal.

Having “thick skin” is a cliché I’ve been thinking about and dealing with for years. I find it fascinating that, somehow, I am way more sensitive at home than I am at work – and by at work, I mean on the air for hours every day.

Even the angriest of listeners are engaging, and engagement is what I want. Sometimes, it can throw a show off-balance, but if handled properly, it should never fully derail you.

Over the years, I have modified my professional behavior, perspective, and attitude, yet my foundational approach has not changed. It began with my first full-time television job when a journalist/mentor of mine told me not to ever act interested in ratings. Rather, he said, focus on my performance and content — the rest would take care of itself.

In my first two anchor/host jobs, it worked wonderfully. I immersed myself in the job, and the ratings were strong. I thought it was a mandate to always take this approach, although in retrospect, I was probably more lucky than good. Regardless, following that mantra actually allowed me to learn my craft and not be overly aware that ratings mattered.

Ignorance was journalistic bliss.

Flash forward to 2024 and it all seems rather naïve, but I think the approach really works well with criticism, too, whether it be on social media, through phone calls or even with fellow hosts.

Just a quick note on nuance: Look at the sentence four paragraphs above – don’t act interested. Looking back at the guidance given by my mentor, his point also seemed to be that even if you are laser-focused on how a show is rating, don’t make it a major topic of conversation, and don’t let people think it defines you as a broadcaster and journalist.

All of it may seem like advice from Fantasyland, but in an indirect way, this approach also makes me less vulnerable to criticism. I simply don’t focus on it too much, and over time, it stopped bothering me even if I did focus on it. Make sense?

Of course, it’s not as if I like it when a listener rips me or the show, either directly or on social media; but I never engage emotionally, and if I do respond in any way, it’s usually content-focused.

That’s the key.

Engage in the content of the criticism and ignore the rest – or at least take the high road. If that gets difficult, end the conversation.

You have the conch. Never forget that.

Ultimately, you’ll feel better, especially knowing you did not take the bait and handled it professionally – no need to create any more tension than is already out in the media eether.

That brings me to the moment a host of a show on my station was sharply critical of an interview I had done, saying it was soft, and not holding the guest (a sitting U.S. Senator) accountable enough.

Specific questions were put forth that absolutely should have been asked, according to the host, and honestly, it was used as a chest puffer for that person to show why certain guests were scared to come on that later show.

And … I thought it was great.

Great?

Well, maybe not great, but I actually had no problem with it. First and foremost, they were talking about it, which is good. When I can provide that kind of grist, it’s good radio. It wasn’t always easy to listen to — I was still in the office doing some booking — but for some reason, it did not bother me. This from a guy who gets a one-second side eye from my wife of 20 years, and I think our marriage is in trouble.

In the end, a few of the criticisms were helpful, believe it or not: One or two of the suggested questions put forth on the later show should have been asked.

It’s all part of the balance I seek to create a place where members of both political parties feel comfortable coming on our network. I always reserve the right to ask difficult questions, and I do ask them (apparently not enough for some), but I also try and be balanced and manage relationships.

It’s delicate, and sometimes, elicits criticism – sometimes deserved. Meanwhile, I just focus on the content, naïve as that may be.

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CBS Mornings Scores Big Post-Super Bowl Ratings Win

CBS Mornings became the most-watched program from 7-9 a.m. in total viewers for just the second time ever for a CBS morning news show.

Doug Pucci

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A photo of the CBS Mornings logo

The historic ratings milestones continue for CBS as a result of Super Bowl LVIII.

Less than nine hours following what turned out to be the most-watched telecast in U.S. TV history to date (120.25 million of the near-124 million watching Super Bowl LVIII did so on CBS), CBS Mornings became the most-watched program from 7-9 a.m. in total viewers for just the second time ever for a CBS morning news show.

For the Monday, Feb. 12 edition of CBS Mornings, which featured co-host Nate Burleson from Las Vegas, the site of Super Bowl LVIII, and a visit from Jon Stewart in New York to promote his Daily Show return (which generated great ratings milestones of its own later that night), it delivered 2.9 million total viewers including 654,000 within the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. It marked its best total audience and demo figures since Feb. 4, 2022.

CBS Mornings topped ABC’s Good Morning America, the usual morning news viewer leader, by a mere 7,000 viewers; it also outdrew NBC’s Today (2.86 million) by 49,000 viewers.

CBS also bested ABC in A25-54 by +103,000; the sixth time CBS Mornings has led over Good Morning America this season based on the key demo.

This was not the first time a morning show benefited from a halo effect of what the network had aired the night prior. Mar. 8, 2021, was the first time CBS won in the morning. It was the day after Oprah Winfrey’s primetime interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had aired which drew 17.1 million viewers for CBS. The Mar. 8, 2021 edition of CBS This Morning featured an exclusive interview with Winfrey and the premiere of never-before-seen clips from the Meghan and Prince Harry discussion, had delivered 4.793 million viewers with 1.026 million of them in the 25-54 demographic.

The program changed its title to CBS Mornings in September 2021.

For this 2023-24 season, CBS Mornings has the smallest deficit margin in viewers with ABC’s Good Morning America since the 2017-18 season and the tightest margin in A25-54 ever.

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