Supporters of President Donald Trump are considering raising hundreds of millions of dollars to establish a right-of-center media company to rival Fox News.
The effort is being led by Thomas Hicks, a private equity investor and supporter of Trump. Hicks aims to raise at least $200 million to potentially buy a smaller news outlet and make it into a sizable and direct competitor to Fox News, building off of Trump’s contentious relationship with Fox, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Trump has complained that Fox News’ coverage of him and his administration is the “biggest difference” between the 2016 presidential election and 2020. Trump has needled Fox News on Twitter in recent months by promoting smaller and lesser-known right wing cable channels Newsmax and One America News Network (OANN).
“[Fox News’] daytime ratings have completely collapsed. Weekend daytime even WORSE. Very sad to watch this happen, but they forgot what made them successful, what got them there. They forgot the Golden Goose. The biggest difference between the 2016 Election, and 2020, was [Fox News]!” Trump tweeted on Nov. 12.
.@FoxNews daytime ratings have completely collapsed. Weekend daytime even WORSE. Very sad to watch this happen, but they forgot what made them successful, what got them there. They forgot the Golden Goose. The biggest difference between the 2016 Election, and 2020, was @FoxNews!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2020
Trump promoted Fox News competitors a few days later on Nov. 15, saying, “Many great alternatives are forming & exist. Try [OANN] & [Newsmax], among others!”
This is why @FoxNews daytime and weekend daytime have lost their ratings. They are abysmal having @alfredenewman1 (Mayor Pete of Indiana’s most unsuccessful city, by far!) on more than Republicans. Many great alternatives are forming & exist. Try @OANN & @newsmax, among others! https://t.co/ewHE8GBRNy
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2020
Hicks is reportedly looking at raising money to purchase Newsmax, which experienced a ratings spike over the week of the election though it remains far off from reaching steady viewership comparable to Fox News or other big cable networks such as MSNBC and CNN. According to the Journal:
Newsmax’s average prime-time audience jumped 156% to 223,000 viewers during the week of the election, according to Nielsen data, and last Thursday crossed one million from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., about half of Fox’s audience during the time period. Sustaining those gains when interest in the election subsides won’t be easy. Fox averaged nearly six million prime-time viewers during the week of the election, about 22% higher than the previous four weeks.
Fox News CEO Lachlan Murdoch would apparently welcome a network attempting to cut into Fox’s dominance, saying on a recent earnings call that “we love competition,” adding that the network thrives on competition.
Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy told the Journal that he had not had any discussions with Hicks about purchasing Newsmax. Ruddy also denied rumors that Newsmax would ever become “Trump TV” in an interview with Variety on Sunday. According to the outlet, Ruddy said:
“Newsmax would never become ‘Trump TV,’” Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax, told Variety in an interview Sunday evening. “We have always seen ourselves as an independent news agency, and we want to continue with that mission. But we are open — [Trump] is going to be a political and media force after he leaves the White House, and we would be open to talking to him about a weekly show.” The executive also said “we are not actively selling” the company at this time, though he notes he has had expressions of interest from “investors, investment banks and strategic players” in the recent past.
“We listen to them, but our main focus is continuing: We would like to overtake Fox News in the next 12 months, and I think it’s do-able.”
Last week, reports suggested that Trump was considering launching a media company post-presidency to “wreck Fox” as he has grown increasingly irritated with what he perceives as unfair coverage from the network.
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