The most balanced cable news on television is owned, operated and backed by big money fans of the right wing.
There are no "mainstream media" liberals pulling the strings behind OAN, the 3-year-old digital channel available in about 15 million homes. And it's by far one of the most fair news outlets around, serving up a daily diet of ad-free, non-ideological, nonstop news — without smirking, snarky anchors or much fanfare.
In terms of balanced content, it leaves Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN in the dust.
It's about time someone filled the void. Most cable news now more closely resembles talk radio.
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OAN, which stands for One America News Network (there's no second "N" in the logo), is actually beating Fox News sibling Fox Business in the cut-throat ratings race, according to Rentrak, which measures viewers differently than its rival, Nielsen.
In New York it's available only on AT&T, Hotwire Communications and Verizon Fios.
But OAN is growing.
"Our game plan is to play it straight down the middle," OAN founder and president, Charles Herring — a California-based conservative millionaire — told MediaBlast.
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Herring says he saw an opening for a mostly straight-news driven channel when CNN started to fill its primetime with reality shows like Anthony Bourdain's travel show, "Parts Unknown."
MSNBC and Fox were even riper for competition because, while they may be ideologically different, their programming is the same.
"We did a lot of research and we found that MSNBC and Fox actually looked remarkably similar," says Herring. "It's just an anchor sharing their opinions for an hour," he said.
"We're different, we simply make information available to the viewer and we let them form their own opinions."
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Herring said the San Diego-based network works on a shoe-string budget with a tiny staff at their San Diego headquarters and in Washington, D.C.
"We do our best to get it right, we don't always, but we try," says Herring, who has has invested millions of dollars of his own money into the channel.
"It's like playing poker with your own money — we've had to learn very quickly what works and what doesn't," says Herring.
To help, OAN is a subscriber to the live "pool" footage provided by ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox. The networks take turns supplying camera crews and technical facilities to cover official events such as when the President travels or a discussion he has with a foreign leader.
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Other events include news conferences and events on Capitol Hill, the State Department, the Pentagon and elsewhere.
Another boost will come from its new New York office, which Herring opened in mid-December and houses a small studio.
Slathered with subtle red, white and blue imagery and a logo featuring a bald eagle — talons extended to strike — OAN at first appears overtly political.
But a closer look reveals that it's not.
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"We only have two talk shows — two hours per day that offer opinion," says Herring. "Everything else is balanced."
Those two hours skew hard to the right — "The Daily Ledger" is hosted by Graham Ledger, whom Herring describes as a constitutional conservative and "Tipping Point" hosted by Liz Wheeler. Herring says she identifies as a libertarian.
It was "Tipping Point" that gave OAN its first star: Tomi Lahren, the fiery, right wing provocateur who got her start at OAN when she was just 22-years-old. She reportedly applied for an internship and instead was given her own show.
Since then Lahren has moved on to Glenn Beck's conservative channel, TheBlaze, and got a lot of attention when she clashed with "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah on a recent episode of the nightly Comedy Central show.
The folks who run OAN won't talk about her anymore.
"She has not worked for us for some time and does not represent our network," Herring says. "We wish her well."
Last year, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spent a week guest hosting the network's show opinion show, "On Point."
The network is also home to former Fox News Channel anchor Laurie Dhue.
Herring says that while OAN aims to compete with CNN and Fox News, he sees pretty much any other cable channel out there as a rival.
"At the end of the day, we're competing for the same eyeballs," says Herring. "So (conservative news outlets) The Blaze, Newsmax TV and Fox are competitors," he says. "But so is Animal Planet."
And it makes sense. Going head-to-head against the likes of Fox and CNN, OAN better have some claws.Send a Letter to the Editor