Donald Trump-friendly cable outlet Newsmax—which has reaped massive ratings rewards for its refusal until recently to acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect—has tried to exploit that stance by repeatedly airing bogus claims that Trump didn’t lose the election and that antifa and Black Lives Matter, not a violent mob of Trump supporters, are to blame for Wednesday’s lethal assault on the Capitol.
At least one Newsmax commentator claimed after the mayhem—in which five people died, including a Capitol police officer—that George Soros was somehow involved.
“Stop right here,” Newsmax majority owner and chief executive Christopher Ruddy admonished The Daily Beast on Friday when asked to explain his channel’s enthusiastic platforming of post-election falsehoods, especially in the aftermath of Wednesday’s insurrection. “We have acted very properly on this. We condemned the violence almost from the minute it was happening in real time. We were saying every time somebody raised antifa [that] we have no evidence they were involved at all.”
Despite Ruddy’s assertion, there are numerous examples in which Newsmax guests, paid contributors, anchors and correspondents have made specious claims with no such disclaimers.
On Friday, for instance, former New York Police Commissioner and convicted felon Bernard Kerik, a promoter of the election-related conspiracy theory that Trump’s victory was stolen by a deep-state supercomputer named “Hammer,” told credulous Newsmax host John Bachman: “I was at the rally…but I can tell you that there were close to a million people on the Mall [a spectacular exaggeration] between where the president spoke and the Washington Monument, beyond the monument, and that area was completely peaceful.
“Whatever happened, happened down at the Capitol, and I anticipate you’re gonna see a lot of instigators and anarchists from Black Lives Matter and antifa,” Kerik continued.
Instead of casting doubt, Bachman eagerly agreed.
“Anybody who knows anything about these protests knows that there is a professional class of protestors,” he declared. “They have no ideology. They have no real morals. They don’t really believe in anything other than tearing down the system.”
Kerik, the recipient of a presidential pardon last year after serving prison time and pleading guilty to multiple counts of federal tax fraud and perjury, was only the latest Newsmax personality to go on air and spread sham conspiracy theories—which in recent days have also included the Soros conspiracy by frequent guest CJ Pearson, a teenage Trump acolyte from Georgia.
“George Soros [would] like to see in the final days of what looks like will be Joe Biden’s quest to steal this presidency than to make it look like Joe—that Donald Trump is trying to wage some insurrection as the liberal media has said? It’s absolutely nonsensical. It’s a far departure from reality,” Pearson told highly rated Newsmax host Greg Kelly on Wednesday night, as first spotted by left-leaning press watchdog organization, Media Matters for America.
On the same show, Kelly mused: “We’ve heard about outside agitators all summer long with the Black Lives Matter protests that all the looting was done by, you know, foreign sources from some faraway place. Look, these don’t look like Trump supporters. Trump supporters don’t do these things.”
On Thursday night, meanwhile, Kelly told viewers: “Sometimes the bank robber gets away with it. Joe Biden stole this election. You know it. I know it. Tens of millions of Americans agree with us… Donald Trump should not concede because he didn’t lose.”
Also on Thursday, Newsmax anchor Grant Stinchfield hosted InfoWars personality DeAnna Lorraine, a QAnon acolyte who, among other interesting observations, has argued that Bill Gates is a space alien and Michelle Obama is a man.
“I'm so proud of… the people that went to the Capitol yesterday because we needed to do this,” she told Stinchfield. “We needed to show them that we care, that our Constitution matters, that our America, our country matters. This is a foreign, hostile takeover and you know it. I know it. And it is time that we step up and that we fight.”
Lorraine went on: “Yesterday, we told the truth. We were there at the Capitol, we were peaceful protesting. The violence was only coming from the police towards us who were there. And yet they're spinning this disgusting narrative that we are at fault or that Trump is at fault and this was domestic terrorism. No it wasn't. It was us fighting for our country. And we have never, ever been more at risk of losing our country.”
Ruddy argued that it’s unfair to hold Newsmax accountable for giving free rein to those and other such baseless and reckless claims and Trump-reinforcing fever dreams.
“We can’t control every guest that comes on Newsmax,” Ruddy said. “You’re expecting that every guest that comes on CNN and MSNBC—we should hold them accountable for all the batshit crazy things they said about Russian collusion over the years?...C’mon. Is Newsmax responsible? Are we really pushing the antifa thing? In all fairness! We have probably said three dozen times that we have no evidence that antifa is involved.”
Regarding Kerik’s remarks, Ruddy added: “I don’t know what Bernie Kerik said. He’s the former police commissioner of the City of New York.” Kerik’s criminal record “doesn’t undermine the fact that he was the police commissioner and a law enforcement officer,” the Newsmax CEO said. “He has been completely pardoned for his crimes.”
Ruddy added: “I don’t see what the story is. I really don’t.” He added that contrary to the general perception, Newmax has displeased Trump from time to time—including Ruddy’s recent column arguing that his friend the president should concede and congratulate Biden—and has actually shown restraint in resisting such bogus claims as The Washington Times’ retracted story that facial recognition technology had identified antifa activists among the rioters.
Ruddy added that his friend Trump, with whom he has dined at Mar-a-Lago, where he’s a longtime member, was upset when Newsmax started referring to Biden as “president-elect” on Dec. 14 after the Electoral College certified his victory.
“I can tell you Trump’s not happy with Newsmax that we were calling Biden the president-elect,” Ruddy recounted, adding that he spoke to the soon-to-be ex-president over the holidays. “I said to him that we were accepting the constitutional process and thought that he should do that”—advice Trump rejected.
Ruddy added that some Newsmax viewers have even complained about the channel’s alleged journalistic conscientiousness. Newsmax’s refusal to run the facial recognition story “has been fueling all the angst we’re getting from our viewership that we’re not covering this—that we’re part of the coverup. And now you’re calling me and saying we’ve been fueling it. No one else is arguing this.”
On Wednesday, as the rampage at the Capitol drew to a close, Newsmax anchor Tom Basile fervently promoted the antifa/Black Lives Matter canard: “So that you have a complete picture of what’s going on, the last couple of times we’ve seen these rallies, it hasn’t just been the president’s supporters. We have seen antifa, we have seen Black Lives Matter, we have seen other leftist groups that have tried to stir up violence.”
Newsmax White House correspondent Emerald Robinson chimed in: “That’s a great point, Tom, because I am hearing from some people on the ground that there is a question of, if antifa has infiltrated the Trump rally-goers and are fomenting some kind of unrest.”
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, meanwhile, assured Newsmax viewers that Wednesday’s riot was “very peaceful” and that there was “probably some undercover antifa that dressed as Trump people and did some damage to windows and got in there.”
Newsmax anchor Chris Salcedo concurred—“I’ve heard those reports, too”—never mind that there were no such reports, at least not from news organizations.
Ruddy, who prefers that Newsmax be described as “center-right conservative” instead of “right-wing,” vowed that his channel will cover the Biden administration from the perspective of “the loyal opposition,” not as an illegitimate president.
“I actually like some of his Cabinet choices,” he said, mentioning attorney general-designate Merrick Garland and secretary of state-designate Tony Blinken.
“I’ve heard that Blinken is a good guy,” he said.