Over the weekend, social media was abuzz with the realization that disgraced political pundit Mark Halperin is now an on-air contributor for fledgling right-wing network Newsmax, which has been making a recent play for disgruntled Trump supporters angry with Fox News.
As The Daily Beast reported last month, Halperin, who became persona non grata in mainstream media after his history of alleged, widespread sexual misconduct was exposed in 2017, has been at Newsmax since at least the summer—and he even hosts his own show on the Trump-boosting channel.
It was an explosive Saturday interview—one that inevitably reshaped the Trump campaign’s legal efforts to overthrow President Donald Trump’s election loss—that led many to discover that Halperin had quietly returned to cable news.
The former MSNBC and Bloomberg analyst has long been making regular appearances on several Newsmax programs, such as former White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s early-evening show. Beyond that, the one-time influential pundit now also hosts a weekend show called Mark Halperin’s Focus Group.
When asked about Halperin’s role with the network in August, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy told The Washington Post that Halperin had “been posting or doing a focus group Zoom video on YouTube” and that they thought they “would test it on the weekends and see how the political talk did.” Ruddy added that there was “no long-term agreement to run the show.”
And last month, with Halperin’s show still running on the weekends and the pundit being billed as a Newsmax political analyst on-air, the network still insisted to The Daily Beast that while they “continue to air Focus Group, a program that is developed and owned by Mr. Halperin,” Newsmax had “not made any final determination on the program.”
On Sunday, Halperin, along with former Fox News host and current Newsmax anchor Rob Schmitt, spoke with now-former Trump legal team member Sidney Powell, who has been peddling the outlandishly baseless allegations that Dominion voting software—apparently at the behest of late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and liberal philanthropist George Soros—flipped millions of votes from Trump to President-elect Joe Biden.
During the interview, which quickly went viral, Halperin and Schmitt uncritically allowed Powell to expand her outrageous election-fraud accusations to include Georgia’s Republican governor and secretary of state, claiming they are part of the vast conspiracy while implying they were both bribed. She went on to vow that she would “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” lawsuit.
Also on Sunday, just a few days after Powell headlined the Trump team’s insane press conference in which she laid out her bizarre voter fraud conspiracy, Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis released a statement disavowing Powell and distancing her from their legal efforts. “Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own. She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity,” the statement read.
Before helping to credulously amplify Powell’s fringe theories, Halperin turned to Newsmax earlier this year when it appeared that all other avenues to a mainstream media return had been closed to him. A previous comeback last year, with the help of some of his high-profile cable news pals like the Morning Joe crew, was quickly dashed amid widespread outrage and criticism.
Halperin is hardly alone at Newsmax as the network has become something of a safe haven for personalities whose scandals have made them unwelcome on other networks or outlets.
The network’s star host Greg Kelly, a former Fox News correspondent and one-time New York City local news fixture, was previously accused of sexual assault (prosecutors decided not to file charges) and has an alleged history of creepy behavior with female colleagues.
And one of the network’s top legal analysts, Alan Dershowitz, has largely seen his frequent Fox News appearances dry up in the wake of his connection to the Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking scandal, especially after Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest and a Netflix documentary that included explosive allegations about Dershowitz. (He has vehemently maintained his innocence.)