After relentlessly crying for Congress to intervene because DirecTV dumped it, pro-Trump channel Newsmax has received a promise from a top Republican to hold congressional hearings on the matter.
Newsmax, which had been with DirecTV since the channel’s launch in 2014, was dropped by the pay-TV carrier this week after demanding license fees in a new deal. DirecTV balked at the request, noting that the network provided it on-air content for free on several different platforms and its own app.
While the company said it would be happy to continue carrying the channel under the current arrangement, which doesn’t provide carriage fees, the network has accused DirecTV and its corporate parent AT&T of “censoring” conservative media.
Newsmax continued to make these claims even after DirecTV signed right-wing channel The First to replace Newsmax in its lineup. (The First appears to have accepted a deal similar to the one Newsmax rejected.)
Throughout this fight with DirecTV, Newsmax has enlisted the help of GOP lawmakers to pressure the cable carrier to reverse course and pay the network, Last week, House Republicans sent the company a letter threatening investigations for “de-platforming” Newsmax and alleging collusion to “de-monetize” right-wing outlets. The author of the letter, Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX), has been a frequent Newsmax guest.
During a Newsmax appearance on Friday morning, House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) pledged a commitment to the network that his committee would look into DirecTV removing the network from its service.
“So, DirectTV pulling Newsmax off the air Tuesday night, making Newsmax the second major cable network to be pulled from DirectTV in the last year,” Newsmax anchor Rob Finnerty said, referencing the provider dropping little-watched far-right channel One America News.
“Congress didn't hold hearings a year ago for OAN because it was OAN and not CNN, and Democrats were in charge in Congress. You're in charge now. Are you gonna hold hearings for Newsmax?” Finnerty continued.
“Yes,” Comer replied. “There's gonna be a committee that's gonna hold hearings. We're sitting, we're gonna meet later today and try to discuss which committee's gonna do what. That's certainly on the agenda. I'm very concerned by this.”
After revealing that he spoke with network CEO Chris Ruddy last week to boast about Newsmax’s ratings (the network attracts barely 100,000 viewers daily), Comer said DirecTV’s decision is “very concerning to me.” He also claimed that it is “very similar” to what he claims is the “weaponization of the DOJ and FBI and what they did to Twitter and Facebook.”
He further insisted “there’s a pattern among a lot of leaders in the media to censor conservatives” before reiterating that he’d turn his committee’s attention towards Newsmax’s beef with DirecTV.
“I’m gonna do everything I can to see that it gets resolved as soon as possible,” he concluded.
This comes just days after Comer claimed to McClatchy that he wouldn’t threaten an investigation or hearing just because conservative media figures suddenly become outraged about something.
“We’ve got to be focused,” he said. “We can’t just blow with the wind. And every time somebody on Fox News gets offended by someone, that doesn’t mean someone needs to go in and subpoena them.”
Comer, who has vowed to hold countless hearings on President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, has indeed shown a penchant for jumping aboard the latest grievance percolating within the conservative infotainment ecosphere.
Earlier this month, for example, Fox News and right-wing media ran wild with a debunked conspiracy theory that Hunter Biden paid his father $50,000 a month in rent at the Biden residence where classified documents were found. Although the younger Biden had actually paid for office space rent in D.C., Comer repeatedly promised Fox that he would immediately investigate the issue while speculating that the “rent” payments might be tied to money laundering.