With about 75 protesters forming outside San Diego-based Trump wannabe and Russian influenced One America News Network (OAN) on Saturday, the kindergarten-quality station showed its bravery by posting armed guards behind locked gates.
Then, it got even worse for the nation’s least influential media supporter of the Trump embarrassment. Network founder and CEO Robbert Herring Sr. brought out his own kindergarten-quality sign, tried to affix it to the closed station gate, and –what else — failed magnificently.
The sign said: “Thank you. You handled well.” Herring initially thanked the protestors for being peaceful, then devolved into the scene shown by these videos.
“There will be an increased security presence onsite,” news director Chris Schickedanz wrote in a staff memo Friday obtained by a local news source. “The police are aware of the situation and are monitoring,” the memo added. “The gate will be locked and employee badges will be required for entry. There will be no entry or exit between the hours of 11a & 4p.”
The rally was organized by John Brunelle and Krystin Cline, journeymen with Local 122 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States (IATSE).
“We had about 75 people there at one point,” Brunelle said. “It was a small but very vocal crowd. Everyone stayed peaceful and on topic.”
People began showing up around noon at OAN’s home 4757 Morena Blvd., San Diego 92117. The crowd grew throughout the action.
“There was a lot of laughs and smiles on our side,” Brunelle continued. “We offered the armed guards bottles of water and tried our best to represent San Diego well. The guards were very respectful and did everything they could to show us they weren’t there to intimidate us.”
Nothing has been set, but Brunelle said organizers hoped to continue OAN protests going forward.
Late Friday, Herring Sr. confirmed via email: “We do have armed guards, but I don’t think telling everyone who, when and where would be very smart.”
Earlier this week, Rep. Scott Peters (D-SD) called on OAN to issue a public apology and retraction of a story about the injury of a 75-year-old man by police in Buffalo, New York.
Brunelle A 40-year-old stagehand and video specialist from La Mesa, said he was made aware of the staff email earlier Friday.
“I’m honestly not too concerned with it,” he said. “Our plan is to have a peaceful protest that draws attention to the fact that OAN is based out of San Diego and does not represent the values of our community. We have absolutely no intention of causing and disturbances or problems for anybody present at the facility on Saturday.”
As for Herring and his barely legal — in terms of production quality — station, Marc Fisher, a senior editor with the Washington Post and friend of The Grapevine, did an in-depth study of the phenomenon in 2017.
“One America News is an obscure TV channel struggling to emerge from the cellar of the cable ratings, but it is nonetheless one of President Trump’s favorite media outlets,” Fisher said. “It’s not hard to see why: On One America newscasts, the Trump administration is a juggernaut of progress, a shining success with a daily drumbeat of achievements.”
Fisher said Herring “a millionaire who made his money printing circuit boards, has directed his channel to push Trump’s candidacy, scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage antiabortion stories, minimize coverage of Russian aggression, and steer away from the new president’s troubles, according to more than a dozen current and former producers, writers and anchors, as well as internal emails from Herring and his top news executives.”
Shades of the Murdochs and the big brother Fox News operation that Herring is trying to replace as the Trumpiest of media organs, his son Charles Herring is president of Herring Sr.’s San Diego operation. However, Herring Sr. “has repeatedly shaped the news on OAN,” according to Fisher.
Herring Sr. is 79. He sold Herco Technoogy for $122 million in 2000, retired and met a Russian woman wh became his third wife. He also, like his idol Trump, watches a lot of TV.
Herring tried something called Wealth TV in 2004, sort of a lifestyles of the rich and famous for the poor and impressionable. The network aired travel shows and a few short newscasts. Herring started OAN in 2013.
Most One America employees were young and inexperienced, according to Fisher. Four OAN writers and producers told him they were paid as little as $12 an hour, or $25,000 a year, and three anchors said they were paid as little as $52,000, well below the scale at national networks, though more in line with what’s paid at local TV news operations in smaller markets.
Fisher added: “To observers on the right and left alike, OAN’s chief goal seems to be to press the conservative cause. ‘Obviously, they’re not in it for the money, because they’re bleeding money,’ said Armstrong Williams, the conservative commentator and TV station owner, who gave the Herrings advice as they were launching OAN. ‘They’re believers; they care about balancing the media.”
Christopher Wood, one of the channel’s first writers, said OAN is Robert Herring’s “way to hobnob with political figures and maybe have some political influence. This is one man’s hobby.”