Since Newsmax host Sebastian Gorka’s public announcement of a legal defense fund for disgraced Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on August 31, he and others on the network have promoted it at least 50 times.
Gorka announced the fund on the August 31 edition of Rob Schmitt Tonight, telling viewers to “support America’s Mayor” by donating at RudyFund.com, and thanking Newsmax “for allowing us to do this.” The URL redirects to a domain hosted by Newsmax, at which point it becomes clear that the website is owned by Newsmax, which also processes all donations.
After Media Matters wrote about Newsmax’s apparent ownership of the legal defense fund, on September 10, Gorka gave a clear, on-air acknowledgement of Newsmax owning the fund for “probably the greatest mayor in the history of the republic.”
GORKA: God bless Newsmax for initiating this drive. Because they want to destroy this man, because he worked for President Trump, and because he is fearless and he loves America, we have created this website. It is RudyFund.com. They want to bankrupt this man. They want to put him in prison.
Notably, on September 8, host Greg Kelly led into an appeal by calling it “a statement … basically from Newsmax.” Several hosts have delivered rote, formulaic performances, perhaps suggesting some are more enthusiastic about the fund than others.
While several of the appeals have been made by hosts during interviews with Giuliani himself, many come during brief, standalone host monologues, often with complaints that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is intentionally bankrupting Giuliani with legal fees. The pairing serves as a justification for why the viewer should send their money to Newsmax, a notoriously scammy operation that bilks its viewers for cash as a core business function.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Newsmax TV for the term “former” within five words of the term “mayor” or the terms “New,” “York,” and “mayor” all within five words of one another or either of the terms “Rudy” or “Giuliani” (including misspellings) within close proximity of any of the terms “defense,” “legal,” or “fund” from August 29, 2023, when Newsmax established the RudyFund.com domain, through September 18, 2023.
We included segments, which we defined as instances when Newsmax’s Rudy Guiliani legal defense fund was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of the legal defense fund. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the legal defense fund with one another.
We then reviewed the identified segments for claims that promoted the legal defense fund. We defined a claim as an uninterrupted block of speech from a single speaker. For host monologues, correspondent reports, and headlines, we defined a claim as an uninterrupted block of speech between played clips or read quotes. We did not consider the speech within played clips or read quotes unless a speaker in the segment positively affirmed said speech either directly before or after the clip was played or the quote was read.
We defined claims that promoted the legal defense fund as statements that solicited or encouraged donations, expressed gratitude for current or future donations, or extolled the fund as good, important, or necessary.