All the talk about Donald Trump going from the White House to cable TV mogul doesn’t mean the president is going to take over Palm Beach County-based Newsmax and turn it into Trump TV.
“I would welcome the president’s involvement in the channel,” Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy said Friday in a telephone interview.
But even for the longtime Trump friend there are limits. “We don’t want to be Trump TV. We want to be Newsmax.”
Newsmax, headquartered in Boca Raton, is so pro-Trump that it doesn’t recognize Joe Biden as the president elect, something done by every major news organization in the country. But Ruddy, who has a home and votes in West Palm Beach, said his friendship with the president has nothing to do with how Newsmax is calling the election.
“I’ve known the president for a long time. I’ve always kept the friendship separate from the editorial judgment.” He said the website has had articles the president wouldn’t like, and the cable channel has had guests the president wouldn’t like.
Regardless of Ruddy’s motivation, he acknowledged that the president promoting Newsmax and trashing Fox News Channel is good for business.
If Newsmax can keep some of the people who are visiting its website and tuning into its cable channel – which isn’t on some systems or is hard to find for people who aren’t determined to hunt – that would be a plus.
“Controversy’s good for the news business,” he said. If he wins, Ruddy said, “Boring Joe Biden is not going to be good for business.”
About half of Newsmax’s 250 employees work in Boca Raton and about half work in New York, Ruddy said. Trump declared Palm Beach County as his residence last year when he got mad at his native New York. Although there’s been speculation about Trump joining forces with Newsmax, but Ruddy said “there has never been any discussion” with the president about a future role he might someday play.
There’s been significantly more speculation that Trump, who came to national fame hosting the Apprentice reality show, might launch his own television endeavor.
For now, Newsmax is enjoying a surge of attention from Trump and his supporters who are angry at Fox News Channel because it determined Biden is president-elect.
Relishing the attention, Ruddy is happily using it to poke at his bigger, more dominant rival in the conservative media sphere.
“I think the country is better served with more media, more diverse media. Fox has owned half of cable news for the past 10 years. I just think that’s wrong,” he said. “Newsmax has demonstrated an independence. Almost every other cable channel is owned by a conglomerate or a billionaire.”
Newsmax, which offers its audience lots of information about alleged conspiracy theories and claims about voter fraud that haven’t been verified elsewhere, is an outlier in the media world on the question of the election.
But Ruddy said doesn’t mean his organization is parroting the president and ignoring facts. That facts as far as he sees them are that Trump deserves a chance to contest the results in key states and offer his view that fraud and irregularities could have tainted the results.
There isn’t any independent evidence, outside Trump world, supporting the view that there is anything more than scattered issues that crop up in every election, and nothing of the scale that could change the results of tens of thousands of votes in multiple states allowing Trump to win a second term.
“Right now we’re not projecting Joe Biden the winner,” Ruddy said. Once election results are certified in coming weeks then Newsmax would declare it at that point, he said. The outcome is seen as certain by every major news organization along with some leading Republicans willing to risk the president’s anger by speaking publicly and many Republicans in private.
“We believe that when you have a contested elections in several states that are so close, the challenger should be given the opportunity to have a recount,” he said.
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