Right-wing media commentators from various platforms rushed to defend white nationalist prime-time host Tucker Carlson after his abrupt ouster from Fox News yesterday. Among them was Newsmax, the grifting cable news station and one of Fox’s competitors, which used the news to try to bolster its viewership.
CEO Chris Ruddy blasted Fox, saying, “Millions of viewers who liked the old Fox News have made the switch to Newsmax, and this will only fuel that trend,” and other network personalities followed suit.
- A guest on Newsmax claimed that Fox is becoming a more centrist network, adding, “That move actually helps Newsmax.” [Click here for transcript of the segment]
- Guest Michael Savage even spun a rumor that Fox host Sean Hannity may have been involved in Carlson’s departure. [Click here for transcript of the segment]
This is not the first time Newsmax has attacked Fox over its personnel changes. A Newsmax panel criticized the network after Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business show was canceled in 2021, just one day after Dominion Voting Systems named both him and Fox News in a defamation suit related to coverage of the 2020 election. Fox has since settled with Dominion.
Dominion is also suing Newsmax for similar reasons. The network’s coverage of the election was abysmal, filled with conspiracy theories and calls for efforts to overturn the decision. Though it resulted in a massive lawsuit, the rhetorical strategy seemed to briefly work from a ratings perspective, with Newsmax experiencing a ratings win over Fox after the election. The high was short-lived, though: Within six months, Newsmax’s ratings were down 50% and Ruddy’s hopes of overtaking Fox were dashed. Since then, Newsmax has lived in the shadow of its competitor, desperately seeking to bridge the chasm between the networks.
In more ways than a shared lawsuit, Fox and Newsmax have long been intertwined. Former Fox flunkies fill Newsmax airwaves. Eric Bolling, who left Fox in 2017 amid reports of sexual harassment, hosts a prime-time show. James Rosen, who left Fox in 2017 after reports of sexual misconduct, is Newsmax’s chief White House correspondent (he succeeded Emerald Robinson, who pushed Satan-infused COVID-19 conspiracy theories). Sebastian Gorka, who did not renew his contract with Fox in 2019, hosts a Sunday show. Greta Van Susteren, who left Fox in 2016, hosts a weekday evening show.
While Fox and Newsmax share common right-wing rhetoric, such as climate change denial and anti-vaccination campaigns, Newsmax often lashes out at its gargantuan competitor. Newsmax hosts complain that Fox is ignoring Trump, ignoring them, or is just a “giant bully.” In the past, Newsmax has even attacked Carlson. But those days appear over. Now Newsmax is using Carlson’s departure to shamelessly lure viewers to its airwaves.