Newsmax, the media empire founded by Christopher Ruddy and based in West Palm Beach has emerged as the most Trumpian media entity during the last four years. Following the 2020 Election, Newsmax’s fledgling cable channel has become a favorite of MAGA loyalists and those alleging election fraud.
Ruddy, a personal friend of the President, and a virtual neighbor in Palm Beach County has done with his TV network, website, magazine and associated newsletters what Trump feels that FOX isn’t doing – go all in on allegations of “election fraud” for a month after the President lost 2020 Presidential Election.
Ruddy is one of several prominent media figures on the right currently holding court in Palm Beach County – the same locale where Roger Ailes passed away in 2017. One prominent Palm Beach-based right-wing figure, Dick Morris makes regular appearances on Newsmax TV and with written content its website.
The journalistic career of Chris Ruddy’s dates back to the Richard Mellon-Scaife “Arkansas Project” of the early 1990’s. Ruddy’s Newsmax, launched in 1998 become a hub of anti-Clinton content along with the existing American Spectator, website Townhall.com, The Drudge Report and The Washington Times. The anti-Clinton bent of talk radio, the internet and non-mainstream political commentators helped shape the political narrative for a generation.
In time, Newsmax would surpass all the aforementioned publications and become the intersection of the mainstream right and the alt-right – sort of an epicenter trusted by those in Breitbart orbit but also those who patron more mainstream publications like The National Review.
Ruddy cut his teeth in the Scaife world of investigating the Clinton’s. His initial creation of Newsmax involved such conservative luminaries as National Taxpayers Union founder James Dale Davidson and former Times of London Editor, Lord William Rees-Mogg (the father of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the current Tory Leader of the House of Commons and close ally of Prime Minister Boris Johnson).
Ruddy built his own ideologically-driven media empire outside of the mainstream Republican circuit, adroitly associating first with the neoconservative foreign policy of George W. Bush and then after the 2008 financial meltdown, repositioning to alignment with tea party opposition to both President Obama and the GOP establishment.
The media prowess of Newsmax was at the start of the Obama years a clunky-looking website and the weekly news magazine which had a very conservative look. But by the time Obama left office, Ruddy was a GOP kingmaker.
Ruddy, who was named as one of the 100 most influential conservatives in the country by The Daily Telegraph in 2010 used the Obama years to turn Palm Beach County-based Newsmax into a more influential voice on the far right than the more established and mainstream written publications.
By the time the 2012 primaries for President rolled around, GOP hopefuls had been for months, making the pilgrimage to West Palm Beach to worship at the alter of the empire Ruddy had built. The next year, Newsmax announced the launch of a TV network to debut in 2014. The stated intent was to be more young-person friendly than FOX News, however in time it’s made FOX look moderate and reasoned.
Newsmax TV – Cable TV for the MAGA conspiracy theorist
In 2014, Ruddy added a cable channel to his portfolio – acquiring a Manhattan studio (isn’t it funny how conservative media claims to speak for the masses yet always seem to base themselves in New York?) and debuting on DirecTV and Dish Network during the summer.
Growing from 35 million homes in 2014 to 75 million today through increased cable and satellite deals as well as well as streaming partnerships with Sling, Fubo and Pluto TV.
In 2015, one GOP Presidential candidate after another came to West Palm Beach to court Ruddy – but unlike in 2011 and 2012 when the same routine took place, Ruddy now had a TV network as well. In any event, the network took a much more pro-Trump stand early on than FOX under Roger Ailes did. When Trump won, Newsmax’s influence only grew further.
Newsmax TV unlike One America News Network (OANN) gives a very polished look. While production levels aren’t quite like CNN or MSNBC, Newsmax TV doesn’t have the low key public access feel of OANN.
In the last four weeks, Newsmax TV has enjoyed a spike in viewership of 20 times what they were in October and has become the repository for every MAGA-hat malcontent in the country to get their message out.
“We have an editorial policy of being supportive of the President.” Christopher Ruddy said last month. That policy is likely to continue even after Joe Biden takes office in 2021. Heck, some media analysts even believe Trump will team up with Ruddy to make Newsmax a full-blown competitor to FOX. Watch this space, because Palm Beach County is likely to be an even bigger hub of the conservative media world once Trump leaves office.