According to a report at the Daily Beast, a San Diego broadcasting operation that is vying with Fox News to catch the eye of Donald Trump is employing a reporter with links to Russian efforts to manipulate the 2016 election.
One America News Network (OANN), which was once home to Fox personality Tomi Lahren, now employs Kristian Brunovich Rouz, who joined the network and is still doing work with Russian government-run Sputnik.
According to the report, Sputnik “played a role in Russia’s 2016 election interference operation, according to an assessment by the U.S. intelligence community.”
By working both sides of the fence, the Beast notes that Rouz’s “on-air reports for OANN include a wholly fabricated 2017 segment claiming Hillary Clinton is secretly bankrolling Antifa through her political action committee. Clinton, Rouz claimed falsely, gave Antifa protesters $800,000 that ‘went toward things like bricks, hammers, bats and chains.'”
The report notes that Rouz, in his capacity as an OANN contributor, has also taken on George Soros, always a red meat topic for rightwing conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites.
“Kremlin propaganda sometimes sneaks into Rouz’s segments on unrelated matters, dropped in as offhand background information,” the Beast’s Kevin Poulsen writes. “A segment on the Syrian rescue workers known as the White Helmets references ‘allegations of the White Helmets’ involvement in military activities, executions and numerous war atrocities,’ but doesn’t disclose that those ‘allegations’ were hoaxes that originated with Putin and his proxies.”
According to former FBI agent Clint Watts, the hiring of Rouz fits a pattern of the integration of Russian influence of conservative American media.
“This completes the merger between Russian state-sponsored propaganda and American conservative media,” Watts told the 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.”
Poulsen reports that Beast attempted to get a comment from Rouz but was unsuccessful, adding, “Reached by email, OAN President Charles Herring invited The Daily Beast to submit written questions about the network’s arrangement with Rouz. But after receiving the questions Herring cut off contact.”
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