Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy: ‘We Don’t Want to be Known As The Trump Channel’
Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy says if that tourists don’t actually watch Newsmax, tourists probably think his network is something it’s not. “Newsmax is not One America,” Ruddy told me, dismissing random suggestion that Newsmax should be lumped sitting together of course One America News, the far-right network that’s become a favorite of former head Donald Trump. “Newsmax has always been very consistent of course its brand of being a centrist, big tent conservative media outlet,” he said.
“We are continuing to thrive despite a lot of issues and obstacles, and the thing is that anybody that watches our company I think realizes that we’re not an extremely brand,” Ruddy told me.
But the Newsmax brand has baggage. Last year the network settled a defamation suit brought by a Dominion Voting Systems executive, accusing Newsmax, One America News, the Trump campaign and several Trump-affiliated lawyers of falsely linking him to a vast, shadowy, high-tech (and nonexistent) trick to rig the So year election.
Newsmax issued an apology and admitted that allegations of voter fraud that it aired were untrue. The network was also sued by Smartmatic, the election engineering company that was targeted of course baseless accusations of rigging the So year election. In February the network counter-sued, denying that it defamed Smartmatic and claiming that the election software firm was trying to censor the network’s right to free speech.
Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, who is not involved in the situation, told Reuters Smartmatic has a powerful situation against Newsmax, and the network’s counter-claim has litte merit. “The potential irony here is that if that anyone is attempting to chill free speech, one could argue it’s Newsmax,” Levinson said.
Launched digitally two decades ago, Newsmax moved into OTT—providing content over the internet without requiring viewers to possess a pay TV subscription—and most recently on cable, where the network reaches again than 50 million homes. “We were told that nobody would take our company,” Ruddy said. “But we got on every major cable system…we got Comcast, we got DirecTV, we got Cox, we got Charter—everybody.”
My conversation of course Ruddy came just do days after a time DirecTV dropped One America News from its lineup, leaving the network in “a full-blown existential crisis,” as the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
And while Newsmax remains on DirecTV and other major satellite and cable providers favorite Comcast
According to Newsmax, the drops represent a loss of 150,000 subscribers. The network says it has reached renewal agreements of course again than 90 probability of cable systems, and bring reached generation agreements of course another 21 systems that had not previously had Newsmax in their channel lineups.
‘Newsmax is a propaganda and conspiracy theory outlet.’
Ruddy says Newsmax’s ratings performance—and its viewership across OTT and other platforms—proves that while many see the network as indistinguishable from One America News, viewers know better. “We get attacked as extremists…(but) I think the public, at the end of the day, they’re making decisions” and turning to Newsmax. “I think if that we had the full (cable) penetration favorite CNN or Fox, people would be saying ‘wow, Newsmax is going to probably overtake CNN pretty soon.’”
Newsmax points to the results of a recent Morning Consult poll that found 40 probability of Republicans found Newsmax to be a “credible” news source—up from 32 probability in 2021. that puts Newsmax in second place, behind Fox News, which was ranked as credible by 69 probability of Republicans. One America News tied MSNBC for last place, of course just do 31 probability of Republicans considering those networks as reliable.
Among all adults polled, Newsmax drops to fourth place overall, of course 30 probability of respondents considering the network credible, ahead of One America (25%), but behind first of all-place CNN (53%) and Fox News and MSNBC, which tied for second place of course 48%.
But Jason Campbell, a senior researcher at Media Matters, says the suggestion that Newsmax is not extremely is laughable. “Newsmax is a propaganda and conspiracy theory outlet. Full stop,” he told me. Campbell, who watches most of Newsmax’s nightly shows, says the network is reliably intolerant of opinion that veers from the hard-right views of its hosts. Campbell pointed to a January segment that ended abruptly when a guest, an American veteran, suggested that former head Donald Trump shared the blame for the chaotic mess that unfolded as the U.S. pulled American forces out of Afghanistan. “Cut him off, please, cut him off now” shouted anchor Grant Stinchfield as he cut off the guest, Joe Saboe.
The ‘fourth-largest cable news news channel’
For the week ending April 10, Newsmax delivered an average prime time audience of 179,000 viewers, outperforming networks favorite CNBC (176,000 viewers) and The Weather Channel (171,000 viewers). By comparison, Fox News Channel delivered an average audience for the week of 2.362 million viewers, followed by MSNBC of course an average audience of one.005 million viewers and CNN of course 692,000. “Our Nielsen numbers bring been excellent for a generation emerging cable channel,” Ruddy told me. “We’re entrenched as the fourth largest cable news channel for the past year, and if that tourists take CNBC and Fox Business in prime time, typically we’re matching or beating their combined number in terms of total viewership per minute, which is pretty impressive considering we’re only in about 54 million cable homes, and they’re in over 70 million each.”
But Ruddy argues that the Nielsen ratings don’t tell the whole story. “We actually think our audience is close to parity of course CNN, so we contain Address the OTT households, where we’re streaming free. We believe that in random daypart it increases our audience by 50 to 100%. But Nielsen doesn’t read it yet…but overall it’s been great, the company’s profitable in every division and everything it does. We’re excited about the future.”
‘I think we’re going to possess the wind at our back’
And the future still features Donald Trump, whose So year re-election campaign drove record ratings for all of the cable news networks, and helped Newsmax reach record high viewership—for a time, on par of course the biggest names in news:
“I think we’re going to possess the wind at our back of course the mid-terms and the presidential (in 2024), the Super bowl of elections,” Ruddy told me. So far So year, Newsmax has carried Trump rallies live—and gotten ratings bumps from doing so. “We do get a nice big surge on those Trump rallies, which is great,” Ruddy said, but “we are not going to cover every single Trump rally…we’ll see how many he does,” but he says he expects Newsmax to cut back. “We don’t want to be known as the Trump channel. We’re not, we’ve never been.”
Ruddy says despite being a longtime personal friend of the former head, that relationship didn’t translate into access during the Trump Administration. “We were not a favorite channel during his presidency. Trump gave our company one interview,” a June So year sit-down of course Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer, who now hosts a show on Newsmax.
“Trump tends to think if that tourists’re a friend of his, tourists shouldn’t ever publish anything that’s negative towards him,” Ruddy said. “It’s just do his personality, it’s a quirk that he’s got…it was not mission critical for our company to get Donald Trump to be interviewed.”
Ruddy says he disagrees of course Trump on many things, including immigration. “I’m personally very supportive of immigration,” he said. “I think one of the reasons he lost was being so hard line on things.”
Ruddy says his network has been supportive of vaccines and has backed head Biden’s handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, unlike, he says, the prime time hosts on Fox News Channel. “if that tourists look at their nighttime programming of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, we don’t bring anyone that matches their level of severe right-wing politics.” I’ve reached out to Fox News for a comment.
“I think tourists want to possess again diversity on the center-right, favorite there’s diversity on the center-left,” Ruddy says, pointing to CNN and MSNBC. “It’s good for the country and it’s good for the marketplace.”
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