Nov 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The race to out-Fox Fox News

Newsmax's Greg Kelly compared President Trump to Rocky Balboa on Monday night. Screenshot: Newsmax

A new class of conservative outlets and networks is racing to capture the attention of disgruntled Trump voters, who feel abandoned by traditional news companies and censored by social media.

Why it matters: Fox News, for years, has been criticized for polarizing coverage. Now, there’s a race unfolding among several conservative outlets who don’t think Fox is pro-Trump enough.

In the days after the election, conservative favorites like Breitbart, Drudge Report and Real Clear Politics began to lose traffic share to Newsmax and Gateway Pundit, according to data from web analytics company SimilarWeb.

  • Last week, Newsmax overtook Breitbart to become the most visited right-leaning news site.
  • TV ratings for Newsmax have surged — marquee host Greg Kelly has recently drawn as many as 1 million viewers a night — as President Trump continues to urge followers to abandon Fox News.

Chris Ruddy — who founded Newsmax in 1998, and took his channel to cable in 2015 — told Axios that a flood of defections followed Fox News' early decision to call Arizona (accurately) for President-elect Biden, which infuriated Trump.

  • "It felt like it was an earthquake on election night," Ruddy said during a 40-minute interview. "The walls have been breached."
  • Ruddy, a member at Mar-a-Lago and Trump's golf club in West Palm Beach, said the president, his longtime friend, called him Thursday to congratulate him on the Newsmax ratings — and complain about Fox News.

Trump has told friends he wants to start a direct-to-consumer, digital streaming media company to take on Fox News, as Axios scooped last week.

  • "Many great alternatives are forming & exist. Try @OANN & @newsmax, among others!" he tweeted Sunday. OANN (One America News Network) is a tiny, pro-Trump cable network that often peddles conspiracies.

Fox News has led cable ratings for nearly two decades, and continues to beat its cable rivals after the election, especially in prime time.

  • Fox News sees its competition as the broadcast networks, with wins in prime time since Memorial Day.

Between the lines: Fox News and other traditional conservative outlets face an identity crisis as they try to establish themselves for a post-Trump Washington.

  • As a successor to its "Democracy 2020" election branding, Fox News is now deploying the slogan "Standing Up For What's Right" in prime-time chyrons.

Neal Rothschild contributed reporting.

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