July 24, 2019
Recently, President Donald Trump has been so vexed by the coverage on Fox that he has taken to channel-surfing to find a more sympathetic news source. However, unbeknownst to Trump until this week, his latest version of Trump TV—One America News Network—features segments with a distinctly Russian accent.
Indeed, The Daily Beast reported, some of the stories that Trump has been retweeting from the station are the work of a correspondent who is actually a “double agent.” The reporter is also a Russian national who remains on the payroll of—and continues to report for—the Kremlin’s official propaganda outlet, Sputnik.
Kristian Brunovich Rouz, originally from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, has been living in San Diego, where OAN is based, since August 2017, and reporting on U.S. politics for the 24-hour news channel. For all of that time, he’s been simultaneously writing for Sputnik, a Kremlin-owned news wire that played a role in Russia’s 2016 election-interference operation, according to an assessment by the U.S. intelligence community.
Among some of Rouz’s recent reports are the following:
- Iran Plots Terror Attacks in Europe
- Far Left ‘Squad’ Faces Pushback for Accusing President Trump of ‘Racism’
- China Pushes for Greater Influence at UN, Builds Political Blocks
“This completes the merger between Russian state-sponsored propaganda and American conservative media,” former FBI agent Clint Watts, a research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told the Daily Beast. “We used to think of it as ‘They just have the same views’ or ‘They use the same story leads.’ But now they have the same personnel.”
Indeed, the Daily Beast notes, OAN now pushes some of the same false stories as Sputnik and RT, but with none of the legal entanglements.
Founded by 77-year-old circuit-board millionaire Robert Herring, Sr., OAN launched in 2013 as an answer to the chatty, opinionated content of mainstream cable-news channels—and a place for viewers too conservative for Fox News. Under Herring’s direction, the network embraced Trumpism enthusiastically, starting in 2016.
Over time, the network became increasingly dedicated to conspiracy theories and fake news, and became overtly supportive of Russia’s global agenda. When Rouz joined, the network had recently shed a number of anchors and other staffers who’d bristled at the change.
Today, althoughit’s available in only a handful of cable markets, OAN’s viewership includes some influential figures, including the president of the United States. According to Media Matters, Trump has fallen for at least two fake stories after seeing them on OAN.
Research contact: @thedailybeast