One America News Network, a San Diego cable network, broke into television initially with creative programming about the rich and for the rich. OANN entered cable news after its ownership concluded seven years ago that CNN and MSNBC were ultra-liberal and Fox News wasn’t conservative enough.
OANN was launched as an ultra-conservative, 24-hour news channel. It has state-of-the-art television studios and newsrooms to support conservative, teleprompter-reading anchors. President Trump has taken notice, most recently in a congratulatory comment during his announcement of the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. raid.
The result is the most modern propaganda machine in American history that needed only one additional ingredient for success: presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. In 2015, OANN began amplifying Trump’s “big lie” about illegal aliens and the supposed need for a border wall.
Does anyone remember Trump bragging that “46 percent” of Hispanics supported him in the 2016 Nevada Republican caucus? It was a phony poll with only 125 Republican Hispanics eligible to be polled and only a handful responding. OANN trumpeted it as bonafide research.
The big lie now told by the network two-dozen times daily is that there there are over 26 million illegal aliens who cost the United States hundreds of millions of dollars a day and hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Those numbers are flashed on the TV screen at least once an hour.
The numbers, which supposedly come from reliable sources, are dramatically reported by the teleprompter reader of the hour.
It’s all misrepresentation. We are not told exactly which of the so-called statistics are from which source. The unofficial government think tank Institute of Defense Analysis is cited as a source. Source of what?
Some of the sources have anti-immigrant agendas, specifically the Federation for American Immigration Reform and Center for Immigration Studies. OANN does not mention the well-known anti-immigrant bias of both FAIR and CIS, nor which numbers in its daily tally are from them. Nor does it publicly note that the veracity of these organizations’ data is questioned by many.
The network’s estimate of 26 million illegal immigrants comes from a computer study by students at Yale University. The official estimate by the Trump Administration, which has every motivation to inflate the number, is less than half what OANN is reporting.
But perhaps the biggest misrepresentation is in the area of costs. OANN does not show what illegal residents pay in taxes — including income tax, property tax, sales tax and Social Security tax. The government says they pay over $12 billion-a-year just in Social Security taxes. Yet immigrants cannot collect Social Security benefits.
The largest cost listed in the daily tally is education for children of illegal residents. Most of these children are U.S. citizens by birth, and their parents do pay taxes that support education. Moreover, every state requires these children to attend schools. Is education a cost, or legally required investment like highways?
To summarize the truth, versus the daily “big lie” flogged by OANN:
- There are not 26 million illegal residents in the United States. There might be 11 million — 3.3 percent of the population, according to the Trump administration
- Illegal immigrants and their employers pay more than $12 billion into Social Security
- Illegal immigrants pay billions of dollars in sales, property and income taxes in every state
- Illegal immigrants have served honorably in the U.S. military
- Illegal residents are like everyone else—they work and pay taxes
Sadaam Husein’s Baghdad Bob whose pronouncements during the Iraq War were exactly the opposite of reality, might envy OANN. The rest of us? Not so much.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a Marine Corps veteran, political consultant and author of the new book White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) & Mexicans. His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.