The Trump Stenographers At Newsmax
Newsmax not only published numerous fawning articles on Donald Trump's rallies (while cleaning up after his mistakes that it couldn't ignore completely), it gushed over the candidates he endorsed in Republican primaries.
By Terry Krepel
Newsmax uses a good part of its editorial content sucking up to Donald Trump. Its brand these days is the Trump network, so it does whatever it thinks it needs to do in order to remain in his good graces. Part of that is airing his weekend rallies live, then devoting numerous articles to uncritically repeating what he said.
For a January rally in Arizona, for example, Trump received a Dec. 31 article from the apparently unironically named Charlie McCarthy announcing it. McCarthy proclaimed that "Trump and his allies have said that voter fraud in several key battleground states, including Arizona, gave Biden the election," which was surprisingly followed with a little bit of pushback: "A Republican-backed review of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County, Arizona's largest county, ended without proof that the election was stolen." A Jan. 11 article by Nicole Wells followed up by touting how "Trump announced the program speakers Tuesday for his first 2022 rally in the battleground state of Arizona."
The rally itself generated a barrage of "news" articles, even though the rally could easily have been summed up in a single article:
These were all straight stenography pieces, with no attempt to fact-check anything Trump said, even though his history of being truthful is less than stellar. The same approach was taken for a Jan. 17 article featuring an interview Trump did with Newsmax TV host John Bachman before the rally.
As the interview showed, Newsmax is continuing to work hard to be symbiotic with Trump. Newsmax then turned all that Trump promotion on itself with a Jan. 20 article touted how good Newsmax's ratings were for its rally coverage:
Donald Trump may have left the White House a year ago, but ratings for Newsmax’s live coverage from his recent Arizona rally suggest the former president is as popular as ever.
Newsmax did the same thing for Trump's rally in Texas the a couple weeks later: a story on the speaker list, then one touting that Newsmax would air it, complete with an "IMPORTANT" note at the end: "Get a reminder about the rally time and latest Trump news from Newsmax, just text REMIND to 39-747 and you’ll be on the Trump List!" Then another barrage of articles on the rally itself:
Again, that was followed by an article touting the rally's ratings, this time with a focus on trying to own competitor Fox News (something of a pastime at Newsmax):
Newsmax was the big ratings-winner with its exclusive cable coverage of former President Donald Trump's rally in Texas last weekend.
Reporter Bill Hoffmann -- apparently embracing the idea that there's no such thing as bad publicity -- even promoted a Washington Post article that detailed how ridiculously over-the-top its coverage was:
"Newsmax treated the Texas rally like a Super Bowl, with pre-game coverage and postgame analysis from Bill O'Reilly and Ben Carson both former Fox News personalities as well as an on-screen poll asking viewers whether they want Trump to run again," the Post's media reporter Jeremy Barr wrote.
Hoffmann didn't seem to realize the Post may have mocking Newsmax for such over-the-top coverage. Or maybe he did: he didn't reproduce a statement in the article noting that "At one point, the network split the screen between Trump’s rally and an advertisement for Newsmax-branded hats."
For Trump's March 26 rally in Georgia, reporter Eric Mack cranked out stenographic articles, including a couple that summed up an interview Trump did with Newsmax TV host John Bachman:
Mack was silent on the fact that the crowd for Trump's rally was a small one, especially compared to previous rallies. He also refused to report that Trump yet again praised Russia's Vladimir Putin as "smart" and praised other authoritarian leaders like China's Xi Jinping and North Korea's Kim Jong-Un by saying that "the smartest one gets to the top."
The following week, there was another Trump rally, and after a preview touting the rally featuring contributions from Mack, more post-rally stenography by Mack:
Again, Mack censored statements from Trump that were false or made him look bad. He claimed that he was once named Michigan's man of the year -- an assertion nobody in Michigan understands -- and he also mocked the spelling of local businessman and Republican Rep. Peter Meijer, whose challenger for the GOP nomination Trump endorsed because Meijer voted to impeach him. Not only was Meijer crushing said endorsee in fundraising, he's also a member of the family that founded a hugely successful namesake superstore chain with numerous locations in and around Michigan, so everyone at the rally already knew how to spell and pronounce his name.
But Newsmax is not about the truth when it comes to Trump -- its job is to make him happy -- so this pattern continued throughout the year. For Trump's rally in Pennsylvania over Labor Day weekend, Newsmax did it again.
First came a couple preview pieces from Sandy Fitzgerald; the first repeated whatever rant Trump posted to his Truth Social page the previous night, while the second parroted Trump's unironic attack on the Democratic candidates in the state as "insurrectionists and lunatics." Needless to say, Fitzgerald didn't point out that Trump could very easily have been talking about himself, but she made sure to note that "Newsmax is airing Trump's rally live." Mack followed up with an article detailing Trump's latest Truth Social insult-spewing; he furthered the Trump conspiracy narrative by claiming that the federal raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate (which Newsmax did even more Trump suck-up work about) was done "under the guise of retrieving documents for the National Archives," though he offered no evidence anything nefarious had been done by anyone but Trump.
Then came the usual raft of articles of various Trump statements by Mack, even though a single article would have sufficed:
As usual, Mack didn't fact-check anything he reported Trump saying, but he did do his corporate duty by pointing out that the rally "aired live on Newsmax."
The next day, Mack served corporate purposes again by touting a Trump post on Truth Social bashing Fox News "saying the conservative network is opening the door for competition by turning to share the 'Democrat agenda.'" Mack added that "Previously, Trump has said 'Newsmax has been really good' while claiming that Fox News coverage cost him the 2020 election." That was joined by two more articles of Trump stenography from Mack:
Finally, after all this servile stenography, it was time to gloat. Jack Gornell did the job in a Sept. 6 article:
Newsmax's live coverage of former President Donald Trump's Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, rally on Saturday beat Fox News in key ratings, according to Nielsen.
Newsmax continues to find that fawning, uncritical coverage of Trump has an audience -- though nobody's going to call it journalism.
Cleaning up after Trump
Newsmax did its usual servile stenography for Donald Trump on his Nov. 5 pre-election rally in Pennsylvania for Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, courtesy of writer Eric Mack:
All of these articles made sure to note that Trump's rally "aired live on Newsmax." Mack did one other article on the rally -- but he had to go past his usual stenography to help Trump:
Former President Donald Trump dropped a nickname on Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis Saturday night and the crowd went wild.
That last paragraph identified a sore spot that Newsmax needed to treat tenderly. An Oct. 26 article by Brian Pfail noted that Trump "will hold a third rally for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio just ahead of the midterm elections" but "did not include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis," adding that "The Florida governor is regularly second to Trump as the most popular potential presidential contender for 2024."
So Mack was forced to help Trump walk back that "DeSanctimonious" remark in one article on the rally, downgrading the insult to a "quip" while also advancing a stealth slight:
One night after labeling him "Ron DeSanctimonious," former President Donald Trump called on his Miami supporters Sunday to vote for the popular Florida GOP governor in Tuesday's midterm election.
Mack served up the requisite Trump stenography in a separate article.
Even Dick Morris was called in for cleanup work in a Nov. 6 TV appearance:
The media is trying to paint a "Republican civil war" between former President Donald Trump and Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis after Trump nicknamed him "Ron DeSanctimonious" on Saturday night.
Mack did more cleanup in a Nov. 7 article on an election-eve Trump rally in Ohio: "When showing the 2024 presidential polls, Trump passed on repeating his 'Ron DeSanctimonious' moniker, calling Florida's governor, most carefully, Ron DeSantis this time. There's been much speculation that the two may wind up competing for the party presidential nomination."
Meanwhile, Newsmax columnist Michael Dorstewitz fretted over the "DeSanctimonius" slight, complaining that "There’s no need and little reason to draw the blood of other Republicans."On election day, a video report by Leonardo Feldman emphasized that Trump voted for DeSantis, and an election-night article by Theodore Bunker made sure to note that "Although Trump recently mocked the governor as 'Ron DeSanctimonious' during an appearance at a Pennsylvania rally, he said on Monday that there is no 'tiff' between them."
Even after the midterms, Newsmax stayed in cleanup mode. A post-election Nov. 9 paywalled article by Marisa Herman framed the insult as merely "only the latest in a long line of biting nicknames that Trump has used to brand his political and personal foes with many of the monikers proving to have staying power." Mack returned for a Nov. 10 article that featured Trump using the insult again on social media, which required even more spin:
Former President Donald Trump's promised announcement is still on for Tuesday and Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has not said a thing but the salvos are flying already.
A Nov. 12 article by Mack featured Newsmax TV host Greg Kelly portraying the insult as both no big deal and totally justified:
The media, and even conservative media, is "getting it all wrong and overreacting" to former President Donald Trump firing salvos against Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to Newsmax's Greg Kelly.
Mack was spinning for Trump once more against DeSantis in a Nov. 17 article:
While major media has been billing Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis as a threat to former President Donald Trump in the 2024 GOP primary field, the latest Politico/Morning Consult poll taken just after the election still shows Trump holding a large lead.
Do you think writers like Mack get tired of promoting just how much in bed their employer is with Trump?
Touting Trump's primary endorsements
In addition to blanket coverage of his rallies, Newsmax spent this year's primary election season touting Trump's picks in Republican primaries and cheering every time they won. For instance:
When Trump-backed Charles Herbster lost to his Republican primary opponent for Nebraska governor, John Gizzi went into spin mode in a May 11 article, blaming "dark money targeting of female urban voters" spent against him, a popular governor endorsing the winning candidate and, oh, the fact that "Herbster was hit with charges from seven women alleging the candidate had groped them."
After the following week's primaries, Mack declared in a June 29 article that Trump "hailed a perfect 12-0 record in a Truth Social post," adding that "Trump's primary endorsement record is now, according to an unofficial Newsmax tally, 143-10, a 93.5% winning percentage (Trump officials count candidates advancing to a runoff as victories)."
And, of course, the endorsement-hyping continued:
There was one unusually discordant note, however; a July 23 article by Solange Reyner quoted a competing candidate claiming that "former President Donald Trump made a bad endorsement in backing opponent Blake Masters."
After the FBI's search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago, however -- after which Newsmax did much Trump-fluffing stenography -- Newsmax felt the need to hype the victories of Trump-endorsed candidates even more. Mack led things off in an Aug. 9 article:
Completing a sweep of the gubernatorial and congressional endorsements of former President Donald Trump, Tim Michels has won the coveted Wisconsin GOP gubernatorial primary Tuesday night, Decision Desk HQ projected.
These were followed by a raft of articles on individual Trump-endorsed candidates in other states winning:
Another Aug. 9 article hidden behind a paywall claimed that "Former President Donald Trump's enduring hold on the Republican electorate was reaffirmed by the overwhelming number of Trump-endorsed candidates who racked up victories in recent primary elections." Gizzi further hyped Levy's victory in an Aug. 10 article, crediting the raid for motivating right-wing voters:
Republicans, Democrats, and independents throughout Connecticut were left reeling Tuesday night by the results of the GOP Senate primary.
Gizzi also wrote an Aug. 11 article on the Washington state primaries that started by cheering how Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler became "the 7th of 10 House Republicans who voted for former President Donald Trump's impeachment going down to defeat" while a Trump-endorsed Republican will advance to the general election, but that a Trump-endorsed Republican lost in another district. He then wrote about how "pundits and pols pondered how one pro-impeachment Republican could go down and another could emerge on top in the same state." Most of the rest was fawning over the Trump-endorsed candidate who beat Herrera Beutler, as a wonderful candidate with a great personal story, while the losing Trump-endorsed candidate was quickly dismissed as "not a good candidate" who "came across as a grumpy guy" and not mentioned again.
The touting continued afterwards: Mack touted Liz Cheney's defeat in a Wyoming Republican primary in an Aug. 16 article under the headline "Wyoming to Cheney: You're Fired! Trump-Backed Hageman Wins Easily." Mack followed that with an Aug. 20 article on how "Former President Donald Trump endorsed a slew of GOP House incumbents in Florida before the state's final primary vote Tuesday.
An Aug. 22 article by Mack gushed that "On the eve of her GOP primary, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., drew the coveted endorsement from former President Donald Trump." And an Aug. 24 article by Sandy Fitzgerald cheered that "Former President Donald Trump took a victory lap on his Truth Social page late Tuesday night, celebrating a 'fantastic evening of ALL WINS' for the candidates he supported in the day's primary races."