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Newsmax: Fox News Replacement or About To Die?

Tucker Carlson. Image: Creative Commons.
Tucker Carlson speaking with attendees at the 2018 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. By Gage Skidmore.

Is it now Newsmax’s moment?: The alternative cable news channel tends to find ratings success when conservative viewers are mad at Fox News, such as after the 2020 election and now following the departure from Fox of Tucker Carlson. But much like Fox, Newsmax is facing litigation from Dominion Voting System

Newsmax: What Happens Now? 

For most of its history as a cable news channel starting in 2014, Newsmax has been largely seen as a lower-budgeted, lower-production value version of Fox News, featuring hosts and guests a bit lower on the totem poll of the right-wing world than those featured on Fox.

The much-maligned former Trump-era White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, recently finished a multi-year run as a Newsmax host. 

Things changed a bit after the 2020 election, especially when Fox News called Arizona for Joe Biden on election night, and then ultimately joined most other news organizations in acknowledging Biden as the winner and president-elect on the Saturday after the election.

Newsmax did not do so, and as a result, some Fox viewers fled the channel and began watching Newsmax.

One evening that December, Newsmax outdrew Fox in the key demographic during one primetime hour. 

During that period, Newsmax was much more willing than Fox to go on the air with outlandish conspiracy theories about the presidential election. 

The New Fox News? Not Quite

The ratings surge didn’t last for long, however, but now Newsmax has another opportunity, following the departure of Tucker Carlson from Fox News.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said in an interview this week that “everyone I’ve talked to” has begun boycotting Fox, and that they’re deleting their Fox apps and canceling their subscriptions to the Fox Nation streaming service. 

 And Newsmax itself has celebrated the news that Carlson has departed Fox. 

“For a while, Fox News has been moving to become establishment media, and Tucker Carlson’s removal is a big milestone in that effort,” Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy told Newsweek this week. “Millions of viewers who liked the old Fox News have made the switch to Newsmax, and this will only fuel that trend.”

Per CNN, the 8 p.m. time slot for the first post-Carlson broadcast, featuring substitute anchor Brian Kilmeade, drew 2.6 million viewers, which was down from Carlson’s average of 3.2 million viewers. Newsmax, meanwhile, saw 531,000 viewers at 8 p.m., up from 146,000 the previous Monday. So Newsmax is gaining in a post-Tucker world, even if it remains far behind Fox. 

So does this mean Newsmax has it made? Not really, for quite a few reasons. 

First of all, it is doubtful that Carlson will go to work for Newsmax directly, probably because they can’t afford him.

Several secondary conservative media organizations, including One America News Network and, made public job offers to Carlson after word got out that he was out at Fox.

Still, Newsmax did not, per CBS News

Also, just as the post-2020 bump was short-lived, there’s reason to think the same will be true of the post-Carlson bump. 

But there is another factor that has a chance to hurt Newsmax: Just as Carlson’s departure appears to have grown out of discovery from Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit against Fox, that same voting machine company has also sued Newsmax, to the tune of $1.6 billion, the same amount sought in the Fox suit. 

Newsmax went much more whole-hog with voting machine and other election conspiracy theories than Fox did, even retracting some of its reporting. It’s not clear if Newsmax has anything resembling Fox’s internal communications that made clear people at Newsmax believed the claims being made on the network were false. 

Fox settled its Dominion suit for $787.5 million which, while a massive amount of money, Fox Corp., as a massive global conglomerate, was able to absorb. 

But the privately held Newsmax is a much smaller company, and while there isn’t much of a public picture of its finances, there’s a good chance Newsmax could find itself in serious trouble, should it have to pay out a judgment or settlement of around $1 billion. 

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Expertise and Experience:

 Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.