Newsmax recently began running on-air fundraising appeals for the legal defense of disgraced Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. But not only is the network urging viewers to help Giuliani — it appears to be also running his donation website directly and collecting the checks on his behalf.
Like former President Donald Trump and over a dozen of his alleged co-conspirators, Giuliani was arrested in Fulton County, Georgia, late last month on multiple charges related to Trump’s attempt to steal the 2020 election. But on Newsmax, the charges are “political persecution” by a “far leftist” daughter of “a founder of the radical Black Panthers” to silence Giuliani’s free speech rights. Therefore, “if you believe in America, please support America’s mayor,” because if viewers don’t donate, Newsmax warns, “you may be next.”
Fundraising appeals often come anchored to Newsmax interviews with Giuliani and his allies, though they also appear alone, a solicitation for funds read as just another one of the day’s headlines. In any case, the viewer knows it’s fundraising time when a blue sidebar appears featuring donation information underneath a smiling photo of Giuliani.
The website that Newsmax tells viewers to go to, RudyFund.com, redirects to a domain hosted by Newsmax, which indicates that the network will process the actual donations as well. This includes physical checks, which are mailed to a P.O. box listed on the Newsmax contact page as a mailing address. The depth of Newsmax’s involvement is not made clear on air; one host even thanked the network “for allowing us to do this,” suggesting a separation between Newsmax operations and Giuliani’s defense fund.
Given Newsmax’s extensive history of running scams and cons on its audience — health and finance newsletters, sketchy nutritional supplements, and over 70 email lists, which CEO Chris Ruddy reportedly views as essential revenue operations — it's worth asking what the network is getting out of the Rudy Giuliani Legal Defense Fund other than displaying more embarrassing public support for Trump and his cronies.
Host Rob Schmitt appeared to inaugurate Newsmax’s fundraising push on August 31, with an interview with fellow Newsmax host Sebastian Gorka. Schmitt decried the “brutal attack” on Giuliani as “incredibly toxic and unethical,” as Gorka thanked both Schmitt and Newsmax “for allowing us to do this.”
“For me, Rudy is one of the few true American heroes left,” Gorka claimed, imploring viewers, “If you believe in America, please support America’s mayor.” Schmitt then told viewers that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is trying to “send him [Giuliani] to jail for exercising his First Amendment rights, and for being an attorney to the president of the United States.”
Later that night, Newsmax host Eric Bolling also mentioned the fund while introducing an interview with Giuliani. “Rudy Giuliani has launched a legal defense fund, it’s called the Rudy Giuliani Legal Defense Fund,” Bolling explained, adding that “it’s super expensive to fight these battles, and the left knows it. We need to help Rudy fight back.”
“I can’t think of a better cause,” he concluded.
When Bolling asked why it was important for people to support him, Giuliani replied that “as President Trump pointed out some time ago, ‘you’re going to be next,’ and I was next, and now there are about 80 other people after me.”
“If you are of a conservative mindset, the chances of your being prosecuted in Biden’s America are enormously high,” he added. “This is a fight for all of us.”
Giuliani continued: “We didn’t fight hard enough when they went after Donald Trump originally. I did, as his lawyer, but America didn’t. We basically let them trash his constitutional rights,” almost as if to guilt the viewer into sending him money.
After Giuliani baselessly suggested Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is “one of the biggest lawbreakers in Georgia history” (an accusation which Newsmax later had Bolling clarify was “unproven”), the host attempted to end the interview with another mention of the fund. Giuliani, however, didn’t appear to understand that the interview was over, and they continued bantering for a bit before Bolling played a brief, prerecorded plea.
Giuliani’s fund also got a plug on Greg Kelly Reports guest hosted by Lidia Curanaj, who warned viewers that “the American justice system, it’s disintegrating, with American heroes under attack.” Her guest — former NYPD commissioner, Trump pardon recipient, and Giuliani ally Bernard Kerik — complained that Giuliani “would rot and die in prison” if Willis got her way.
“I know Rudy on a personal level as well,” Curanaj professed, “and you couldn’t find a better man,” adding that “President Trump is urging Americans like you to support Mayor Giuliani in his fight against this two-tiered justice system.”
Beginning on September 1, Newsmax’s campaign to fund Giuliani’s legal defense appeared to hit a stride, earning mentions on network shows through Labor Day weekend as well as newer plugs on shows that had already mentioned it:
- Former Fox host Todd Starnes mentioned the fund while guest hosting The Chris Salcedo Show, plugging it before and after a partial interview with Kerik, who attacked Willis as well as Kemp for not supporting efforts to punish her.
- While guest hosting Rob Schmitt Tonight, Gorka called Giuliani “a true hero” and once again thanked “Newsmax for supporting the campaign to help the mayor,” begging viewers to “please, please donate right now” or “you may be next.”
- Gorka plugged the fund a second time at the end of the episode and combined it with a promotion for his new book, as well as his own Newsmax show.
- On September 1, Newsmax published an article about the fund on its website, urging readers to donate to Giuliani’s defense “to help fight back in the left’s war on conservatives.” The article did not mention the network’s role in running the fund. (Calls to the toll-free number promoted in the piece received a prerecorded response: “Thank you for calling to show your support for Rudy Giuliani and free speech in America.”)
- Newsmax host Carl Higbie did a perfunctory fundraising appeal for Giuliani on his show Carl Higbie Frontline, unattached to any segment about the case, a move which was repeated verbatim on September 2 by America Right Now host Tom Basile. Both Newsmax hosts opened their fundraising pleas by reciting: “Mayor Rudy Giuliani is warning Americans that you may be next if the far left can indict and jail people for exercising their constitutional rights.”
- On September 3, Giuliani appeared on Sunday Agenda to complain about his case and the media, as Curanaj said that “I can’t think of a better cause than helping this man. … We all need to fight back against this, because if they can come after Mayor Giuliani and President Trump, they can come after you.”
- Rob Schmitt Tonight hosted its third Giuliani fundraising segment in as many weekdays, this one featuring former Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones. Schmitt closed the segment with an appeal for donations to Giuliani’s defense fund in which he claimed that “they’re coming for the heart of this country,” and “President Trump [is] urging Americans to help support Mayor Giuliani as well.”
Schmitt, a former co-host of Fox News’ early morning show Fox & Friends First, also carried the torch for Giuliani past Labor Day weekend. On Tuesday night, he interviewed the disgraced attorney, again providing him a Newsmax platform to plead his own case for the viewers’ money. Schmitt attempted to recite a fundraising script, but technical issues (“a little mic clip”) forced him to skip ahead to an unrelated interview with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), after which Schmitt dutifully completed the plea.