report in May on the pandemic, Mr. Rouz said Covid-19 might have started as a “globalist conspiracy to establish sweeping population control,” one that had ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, the billionaires George Soros and Bill Gates, and “the deep state.”

Ms. Britton, the former OAN producer, recalled checking a website that Mr. Rouz had cited to back some of his reporting. “It literally took me to this chat room where it’s just conservatives commenting toward each other,” she said.

In an email to staff last month, Ms. Oakley, the news director, warned producers against ignoring or playing down Mr. Rouz’s work. “His stories should be considered ‘H stories’ and treated as such,” she wrote in the email, which The Times reviewed. “These stories are often slugged and copy-edited by ME as per Mr. H’s instructions.”

OAN’s online audience is significant, with nearly 1.5 million subscribers to its YouTube channel. One of its most popular videos, with about 1.5 million views since it went online Nov. 24, criticized Dominion Voting Systems, the election technology company whose equipment was used in more than two dozen states last year, including several won by Mr. Trump. Hosted by the OAN White House correspondent, Chanel Rion, the video shows a man who said he had infiltrated Dominion and heard company executives say they would “make sure” Mr. Trump lost.

Dominion has sued Fox News and two of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, accusing them of making or promoting defamatory claims. A lawyer for Dominion, who did not reply to requests for comment, has said the company is considering further legal action.

Mr. Golingan, the producer, said some OAN employees had hoped Dominion would sue the channel. “A lot of people said, ‘This is insane, and maybe if they sue us, we’ll stop putting stories like this out,’” he said.

Weeks after Dominion filed its first defamation suits, OAN broadcast a two-hour video in which the chief executive of MyPillow, Mike Lindell, made his case that widespread voter fraud had occurred. YouTube removed the video the day it was posted, saying it violated the platform’s election integrity policy. Last month, an OAN report described Dominion’s “voting machines” as “notorious.”

Two of the current and former employees interviewed for this article — Dan Ball, a talk-show host, and Neil W. McCabe, a former reporter — described OAN’s coverage as unbiased. Mr. McCabe, who now writes for The Tennessee Star, said the network gave a “voice to people that are just not covered.”

Susan Beachy contributed research.

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