Real News for Real People – Chris Ruddy

Real News for Real People – Chris Ruddy

Real News for Real People – Chris Ruddy

“We always say we’re real news for real people.” In 1998, Chris Ruddy used a small investment to build a media empire. Today, Newsmax Media shares live and breaking news with more than 45 million households every evening. Ruddy discusses Newsmax’s reporting approach, Big Tech and the future of media with host Charles Mizrahi.

Topics Discussed:

  • An Introduction to Chris Ruddy (00:00:00)
  • Sensing a Need (00:02:42)
  • Seeing the Difference (00:07:39)
  • Real News for Real People (00:13:34)
  • Newsmax vs. Fox News (00:17:47)
  • Newsmax Reporting (00:21:58)
  • Politics Coverage (00:25:36)
  • Section 230 Protections (00:31:53)
  • Big Tech Monopolies (00:34:51)

Guest Bio:

After serving as a national correspondent for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Chris Ruddy started Newsmax Media. The company had humble beginnings as an Internet news provider. But over time, Ruddy took Newsmax on-air — growing viewership across all demographics. Currently, Newsmax is the fourth-largest news channel in the U.S. and can be streamed for free on most smart TVs. As founder and CEO, Ruddy continues to play a crucial role in the company’s success.

Resources Mentioned:

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Read Transcript

CHRIS RUDDY: Bill Buckley always said that conservatives don’t need to have just a conservative news channel or outlet. They just need to have balance and both sides because the public will pick the conservative side 80% of the time when given an equal disposition to both sides. I think Newsmax tries to do that. It tries to give both sides and let people decide for themselves.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: My guest today is Chris Ruddy. Chris is founder and CEO of Newsmax, one of the nation’s leading news media companies. A Newsweek cover story named him as one of America’s top 20 most influential news media personalities.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Chris started Newsmax in 1998 with a $25,000 investment, along with the owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review — where he worked as a national correspondent. Today, Newsmax TV is one of the fastest growing news sites, with more than 30 million views per month. Since the November election, Newsmax’s popularity has been surging and has even made a dent in Fox News’s ratings.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I recently sat down with Chris to talk about why he started Newsmax and how he saw the media landscape playing out over the next few years.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Chris, thanks so much for being on the show. I greatly appreciate it. I really look forward to our discussion today. I have so many things I want to speak to you about.

CHRIS RUDDY: Charles, thanks for having me on. I’m looking forward to it.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: You started out in 1998 with $25,000. You were a correspondent at the time. How did you even come up with the idea of Newsmax?

CHRIS RUDDY: Well, I was a journalist in the ’90s. I saw how liberal the media was and how uniform it was in its thinking. What we’re facing today is not new. I saw the power of the Internet take off. I saw the success of things like the Drudge Report, and I thought there really needed to be more voices — not less.

CHRIS RUDDY: So, I started Newsmax.com. We’ve had phenomenal success. We’re one of the major conservative sites. We were back then, and we still are. We’ve launched our cable TV news channel, and people get our news from emails. They download our free app, which is on every smartphone. We’ve had about five million people download the app since Election Day last year, which is an amazing number.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Back in ’98, you saw a need. That was a period in time when the Internet wasn’t so ubiquitous. It was out there, but it was in its early stages. We were a few years away from AOL being the Internet. I remember 56k. In ’98, we were still using 56k in my office.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: When you first started out, did you see Newsmax as an online news media service? Was that your first vision for disseminating information?

CHRIS RUDDY: Newsmax started as an Internet news company, but the Internet took on a lot of different meanings. Back in 98, there wasn’t even Wi-Fi.

CHRIS RUDDY: Now, everybody uses Wi-Fi to communicate. And Wi-Fi has been an incredible development for television and OTT television. We eventually go on to cable systems across the country. We’re on every major cable system with our TV channel. But now, we’re the only big cable news channel on OTT devices. I’m talking about Pluto, Xumo, YouTube Live and Roku.

CHRIS RUDDY: People forget that there are now 125 million TV homes in America. Most of them used to have cable. Now, only about 80 million have cable. The other 45 million get their television through either broadcast — over the air — or OTT, through their smart TVs.

CHRIS RUDDY: Newsmax is the only one that offers free streaming on smart TVs. That’s a traditional cable news channel. Fox and MSNBC are behind a paywall. So, it shows you where the Internet has gone. I would have never thought Newsmax would be a TV broadcaster in 45 million homes and over 100 million smartphones. But we are.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: What I find fascinating about Newsmax is how you started a news service when there were major news organizations throughout the world — and you weren’t even a David. Goliath’s were all around. How does one break into that business?

CHRIS RUDDY: It’s become a lot easier and more fragmented. Think about people that have started podcasts and become overnight sensations with social media. I think a lot of the barriers are down.

CHRIS RUDDY: What’s happened is the big media companies have multiplied the outlets they’re in. And then you have Big Tech, which controls the gates of the channels. It’s trying to lock down certain media outlets or people. We’ve seen our former president recently de-platformed from both Facebook and Twitter. So, it does present problems — even if you’re an alternative media source.

CHRIS RUDDY: When Fox started in the ’90s, nobody had the names “Bill O’Reilly” or “Sean Hannity.” They soon became very important in the media landscape. A lot of people hadn’t heard about Newsmax TV until Election Day.

CHRIS RUDDY: Now, we’re the fourth-largest cable news channel in the United States. If you take Fox Business and CNBC and combine them, our ratings are typically higher. On any given day, we’re taking about one-third to one-half of Fox News’ audience, which is a mammoth audience. We’re taking a huge chunk of that. It just proves that somebody can come in. If you have a vision of where you want to go — and you have really good content — people will be attracted to it.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: It seemed like Newsmax was an overnight success — since November 2020 — but it was 20-plus years in the making, right?

CHRIS RUDDY: We’ve been around for a while. We’re known for Newsmax.com. Last month, 16 million people went to Newsmax.com. We’ve done a couple hundred million in page views. We’re one of the top Internet news sites. But we now have an app that people are going to. We have cable channels that people are going to. We’re really hitting people.

CHRIS RUDDY: The big media companies figured this out. You want to hit people at all the levels that they’re interacting with the media — not just through one narrow channel. We’re going to continue adding areas where people can get Newsmax — whether it’s on podcasts, radio or elsewhere.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: How is Newsmax standing out and gaining market share — especially since November 2020?

CHARLES MIZRAHI: You have so many more millions of viewers who reach out and try to find Newsmax. What does your organization offer the public that gets them to think: “I’m done with the traditional way”?

CHRIS RUDDY: One quick way people can see the difference is they go to Newsmax.com right now. They can look up the stories that we cover and see the way we approach news. Then, if they look at Fox News.com, they’ll get an idea of how we’re different from the largest competitor in the field. I think most people in the heartland would like Newsmax if they got to know us more. People who have checked it out go to us more than they go to Fox these days.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: If I do what you just said — go on and watch the way Fox covers versus the way you cover — what differences will I see?

CHRIS RUDDY: Let’s just look at a recent story, such as the election of Joe Biden.

CHRIS RUDDY: When that election took place, it was a very close race. Probably less than 100,000 votes divided the winner from the loser — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. But the former president decided to challenge President Biden in six states where the result was 1% or less. In two of the states, there was a 0.5% difference. In one of the states — Georgia — there was a 0.25% difference. These were very close races.

CHRIS RUDDY: Newsmax’s position at that time was: “We are going to call those states as they certify.” In each case, they certified Biden. We called them, but we said the president was challenging them.

CHRIS RUDDY: In the 2000 election, when Al Gore said, “Hey, wait a minute,” he actually conceded but then withdrew his concession. He said, “I’m not going to concede now. I want to challenge it.” Everyone in the media said, “We’re not going to call this until Al Gore admits that it’s over” — which took until mid-December. And everybody stood down.

CHRIS RUDDY: We had a very similar situation where we had close races in six states. We said, “We’re going to wait.” Fox News immediately pulled most of the states for President Biden that were contested — including Arizona. They called it within an hour or so of the polls closing, with less than 20% of the vote. It made no sense. Fox wouldn’t call Florida, which former President Trump won very handily in that the state had the results for hours. It was a very strange situation.

CHRIS RUDDY: They also called Biden the president-elect within a week or two of the election. Our view was that he should only be called the president-elect in a contested race while it was being challenged until the day of the Electoral College, which was December 14th. When that happened, we did it. We played it by the book. We didn’t take sides. We played it by the book, and Fox didn’t. Fox seemed to be playing against the former president. Even to this day, if you watch Fox, they don’t talk about Donald Trump. He’s a non-important figure.

CHRIS RUDDY: Newsmax thinks that he’s still a very significant player in the Republican Party and American politics.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Why do you think Fox got it wrong?

CHRIS RUDDY: I don’t know. I think Fox is an old brand, and it’s pretty stale. It’s starting to show it’s been around for a long time. If you go into a supermarket and there’s only one type of cereal, you might think: “What’s going on here? Why aren’t there more types of cereal?”

CHRIS RUDDY: For Fox to control all of the right-of-center thinking in the United States for television … I think it’s dangerous because the left and left-of-center has so many options. It’s not good for the country for that to happen. It’s not good for the competition of ideas.

CHRIS RUDDY: So, Newsmax has come in. We’ve taken a very significant market share. As a business, we’ve been successful in doing it. And people are tuning in. I haven’t delved into the autopsy on Fox News. I think everybody has their own opinion. But a lot of people think it has gone more establishment over time.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, they sold out?

CHRIS RUDDY: I wouldn’t go that far, but I think it lacks a certain consistency.

CHRIS RUDDY: When you watched CNN or MSNBC, it was anti-Trump all the time — wall to wall. As we got close to the election, any little disagreements or criticisms of the left’s position vis-a-vis Trump wasn’t even allowed.

CHRIS RUDDY: If you went to Fox, it had a lot of criticism. It even confirmed the story where Donald Trump said that the dead soldiers in Europe were suckers and losers. Fox confirmed that. It’s true. I think it’s generally viewed as a phony fake story that was anonymously-sourced. Even General Kelly’s chief of staff said that it was not true and that the president had not made those comments. Again, that was very typical of what we saw at Fox. I think that lack of consistency developed a lot of anger that people saw. And that really burst open on election night.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Why are people looking towards Newsmax and saying, “You know what, I believe this.” Because the news media is a belief system. You have to believe the credibility behind that. I agree 100% with you that when things come off as facts that aren’t facts, the danger is already done. People are extremely concerned about what is real and what isn’t right now. Why are they honing in and saying, “Newsmax is real”?

CHRIS RUDDY: We always say we’re real news for real people. I came out of journalism. I worked at The New York Post. I worked for Rupert Murdoch, and then I worked for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. I’ve been at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. I have more of a fact-based approach to television and journalism. Even if it includes an opinion, it needs to be an opinion that’s backed by fact.

CHRIS RUDDY: The Fox network was started by Roger Ailes, who was a TV genius. But his real background was in politics — as a political strategist. He ran Fox as a campaign, which led to its success. But it was really like a political campaign. I think you still see the overtones of that in its news-reporting. I think that separates Newsmax from Fox.

CHRIS RUDDY: When some of this election-disputation stuff took place, our hosts were more reserved and restrained about saying that certain software was manipulated. The Fox hosts were much more aggressive in saying things that seemed more political rather than fact-based.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, Newsmax is now gaining a foothold, right? You’re establishing a big beachhead. It has taken a long time to get here. November was a tipping point where you went off to the moon. What’s keeping you up in terms of the next Chris Ruddy who’s trying to knock Newsmax off?

CHRIS RUDDY: I’m not up late at night worrying about that. There’s an immense moat around cable and OTT news. It is very expensive to do. Murdoch spent billions to build Fox News. I will have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build Newsmax TV. To start it and have success is a very difficult thing. I don’t think that many people are going to put up the money.

CHRIS RUDDY: We are on every major cable system now — DirecTV, Dish, Fios, Comcast, Xfinity and Spectrum. And to get on those systems, I think we’re really the last new cable channel to get on. So, if some group wanted to get a new channel, I think it’d be difficult. It’s just not easy. I think you have to have a certain team.

CHRIS RUDDY: We’ve gotten some really good people together. Greg Kelly has been our star at night. We’ve added to the lineup. Sean Spicer and Lyndsay Keith are doing a great job at 6:00 p.m. I think they have very innovative, interesting show about Washington. At 8:00 p.m., we have Grant Stinchfield from Texas. I think he gives a real heartland perspective. Rob Schmidt, who has come from Fox, is doing an incredible job at 10:00 p.m. with a breakdown of the day’s news.

CHRIS RUDDY: A lot of it is personality. A lot of our folks come from a journalistic background — which, again, separates us from some of the Fox folks. All I can say is tune in to see if you like it. If you don’t, go back to Fox, MSNBC or CNN.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Chris, you’re a smart guy. You’ve built something amazing in around 20 years.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: If you sat in the boardroom of Fox and you saw guys come in and start to gain market share or more engagement…

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I know your viewer base is very engaged — especially the conservative folk. They really suck up news in a way that average humans don’t. They’ve really become engaged with your shows. Your hosts are extremely engaging. Full disclosure: I’ve been interviewed on one of those shows. It’s really engaging. It’s really with it. You look at news in a different way.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: My question is this: If you were in Fox’s boardroom and trying to gain back market share, what would you do?

CHRIS RUDDY: I’m not sitting in the boardroom, and I wouldn’t presuppose to start giving them advice on how they should handle their network. I can say, as an outsider, that I think Fox has a current trajectory in one direction — which is down. It’s not going to be a rosy future — and not just because of Chris Ruddy from Newsmax. I think that the Internet and the cord-cutting world will be very deleterious. It already is.

CHRIS RUDDY: I remember that — 15 or 20 years ago — Fox used to be in 100 million cable homes. I think the latest report is 82 or 83 million cable homes. Some of those subscribers are not as strong as your traditional television. There are people that get it on the Internet. So, their position has weakened and will continue to weaken.

CHRIS RUDDY: I don’t think the OTT answer they have — Fox Nation — will ultimately prove a very smart move for them. There are so many cord-cutters.

CHRIS RUDDY: Newsmax hurts them on several levels because it is taking a significant market share. You see it in a thing called the Nielsen coverage rating, which shows the number of cable homes Newsmax penetrates in proportion to Fox.

CHRIS RUDDY: It’s showing that we’re taking a big daily chunk of their numbers in key parts. The big thing is that people don’t have to subscribe and pay $2,000 a year for cable anymore because they can just get a Roku box for $40 a year and get Newsmax TV for free.

CHRIS RUDDY: I think our quality is as good — or better — than Fox News. So, why would you spend any more money? We have very similar guests. I think that we have better guests and analysts come on sometimes.

CHRIS RUDDY: For example, I think we have the two best political analysts in the United States. Dick Morris has worked for presidential candidates. He has even advised Trump. Doug Schoen — on the Democratic side — is very famous. He used to be at Fox. They’re now our key political analysts. Alan Dershowitz is on Newsmax much more than he’s on Fox News. I think Alan is the premiere legal analyst in the United States. He’s with us. He’s a contributor to Newsmax.

CHRIS RUDDY: So, you go through, and you’re like: “Why am I paying $2,000 a year —largely — to watch Fox News?” It doesn’t make any sense. Newsmax has now become a better alternative, and you can stream us for free on your phone. Fox doesn’t really have a plan. Mr. Murdoch, who founded Fox, is one of the greatest giants in media history. I’m a great admirer of his. But he’s 90. I think they have to think about succession.

CHRIS RUDDY: There was a story in the Financial Times just a week ago. It was a very interesting story. It said that Lachlan, his eldest son, was running Fox.

CHRIS RUDDY: Lachlan is conservative, I believe, and a good guy. But he’s apparently not that engaged in the business. His other son, James, is very liberal. Apparently, the two sisters side with him when they think about Fox News.

CHRIS RUDDY: In the article, it says that James and the sisters — when Rupert passes — don’t want to sell Fox. They want to change Fox and make it more establishment. I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s what was in the article. So, anybody that’s a big supporter of Fox and is conservative, you’ve got to worry about its future. The tea leaves suggest it’s not always going to be as politically-right as it has been in the past.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: We talk about right, left and center. I don’t know where the center is anymore. Where would you position Newsmax in terms of reporting?

CHRIS RUDDY: Six years ago, I said we were center-right. That was how I described us — which was not a term that was widely used in the media.

CHRIS RUDDY: I notice that it’s used widely now. Fox tries to say that it’s center-right. I think Newsmax — from the beginning — has been center-right. We are not extreme. We’re not right wing. We’re conservative in the traditional sense. I always say we’re independent, but we have a conservative perspective. I think if you look at the Fox hosts at night — Tucker, Hannity and Laura — they’re far more conservative than our hosts.

CHRIS RUDDY: Greg Kelly is a moderate conservative. Rob Schmidt and Grant Stichfield are conservative, but they’re more traditional in their approach. Newsmax.com has always been open to liberal voices. We’re not grabbing the right-wing mantle. We’re not here to just push a political ideology or party. [We’re here to] give people information with a certain perspective.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: When you say: “traditional conservative thinking,” what does that mean?

CHRIS RUDDY: Well, I think traditional conservatives believe in limited government, a strong military defense, strong social values, the power of religious faith in our society. I think those are the types of issues that our viewers would like us to address. I think a traditional conservative media outlet would not only look at those values and report on them but also seek out voices that would give opposing views.

CHRIS RUDDY: Bill Buckley always said that conservatives don’t need to have just a conservative news channel or outlet. They just need to have balance and both sides because the public will pick the conservative side 80% of the time when given an equal disposition to both sides. I think Newsmax tries to do that. It tries to give both sides and let people decide for themselves.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: That’s unless they live in New York or California. That works for the rest of the country — except in those two states. If you give them both sides, they’ll pick the left side. It’s just amazing.

CHRIS RUDDY: In those states they don’t even want to allow two sides. They’re afraid of two sides. Look at CNN and MSNBC: 80% of their Republican contributors endorsed Joe Biden in the last election. That’s totally out of step.

CHRIS RUDDY: We know that in the exit polls, over 90% of Republicans voted for Donald Trump. So, there was no real internal division within the Republican Party. If you watched the left networks, you would have thought there was huge internal division on the Republican side over Donald Trump. There really wasn’t. He had near unanimous support in the party.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Where do you see the media going in terms of reporting the news during the next presidential election? There have been a lot of mistakes made. The public has been being extremely skeptical of traditional media sources. You’ve been ahead of the curve this whole time. Where do you see the media heading in the next four years?

CHRIS RUDDY: I think we’re in a dangerous place because of the effort to de-platform, de-legitimatize, isolate and demean media that the liberal establishment doesn’t agree with. I don’t even know if I’d call them liberal anymore. I think the fact that Big Tech closed down the [accounts of] the former President of the United States… They took him off Twitter and Facebook.

CHRIS RUDDY: These are very dark moments in our history. Traditional liberals would not have espoused this 20 or 30 years ago. The rise of cancel-culture is very disturbing. I think it really brings home the importance of having multiple channels and platforms for media. We can’t really rely on just one avenue to get our news or information. The more there are, the better. I think that should be an area we all look at.

CHRIS RUDDY: I look at it from a business perspective, but individuals should make sure they’re getting their information from more than one source. I think the podcasts are terrific.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I love you for saying that, and thanks for being on. I watch Newsmax. What else should I be looking at?

CHRIS RUDDY: I’m in favor of you looking at all media. There are a lot of sources for conservatives to go to. I don’t have to name them, but you could name them. There’s the Daily Wire. There’s Blaze. There’s Breitbart News. There’s Fox News. There are a lot of different sources out there.

CHRIS RUDDY: I also think it’s important to see what the liberal side is doing and go check out its media. We’re finding that, according to the Nielsen data, about 30% of our viewers on television are Democrats. Another 30% — approximately — declare themselves as independents. About one-third identify as Republicans.

CHRIS RUDDY: I like that. I like that we’re being checked out by Democrats. They may not agree with us, but I think it’s really healthy that they’re looking at the other side. I think it’s healthy for conservatives to check out liberal TV channels.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I love Newsmax. I watch it. What liberal news source would you suggest I check out for a more balanced view?

CHRIS RUDDY: I don’t know if there’s any liberal site that has the most balanced view. I don’t know if I’d say there’s one liberal site that is most balanced. I think The New York Times is somewhat restrained in its leftism. It’s a little more careful than The Washington Post, which seems to be more aggressively-left these days.

CHRIS RUDDY: Then, if you go to MSNBC or ABC, the TV networks have gone completely off the rails. The Daily Beast. It’s almost the epitome of fake news. They almost make things up. Some of the things that they post are unbelievable. I think it could have been a source of interesting, innovative information. But it’s not.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Go back to that. That’s an excellent point. I remember that during the Clinton administration, the Drudge Report used to come out. There was a very simple banner on his site. He used to post outstanding things there.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Then, you came around in ’98. But I remember reading you back in the early 2000s. I read The Wall Street Journal. I’ve gotten The New York Post for the past 30 or 40 years. Who’s putting out fake information, and who’s putting out real information? Even as an educated person who reads a lot, it gets blurry sometimes.

CHRIS RUDDY: A publication is not a monolithic thing. There are dozens of reporters and publishers. So, I think you’ve got to pick and choose. [I think you have to] look for information from different sources.

CHRIS RUDDY: For instance, Bill Gertz of The Washington Times is one of the best national security reporters in the United States. He should be at The New York Times if it was the newspaper of record. But he isn’t. He’s at The Washington Times. Anything he writes about I take as very credible. Early on, he was the guy who said that the U.S. Government had concerns that the virus came from the Wuhan laboratory.

CHRIS RUDDY: Over time, other intelligence supported that. But he had some of the earliest stories on that. He tended to be ahead of the curve.

CHRIS RUDDY: Sometimes, I look more at the individual than the main publication. Sometimes, you have to do that. There are different reporters that we’ll look at.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: The fact that an ex-president can be booted off the airwaves — and off Twitter… The concern that many Americans now have is the clamping down of free speech. Facebook, Google and Twitter have become media outlets. Agreed? Who’s policing them?

CHRIS RUDDY: Well, they have [Section] 230 protections, and they don’t get sued like other media companies because they say they’re just open platforms. But they’re not. They’re actively editing and raiding information, saying certain information is inaccurate or identifying and bracketing information.

CHRIS RUDDY: I think they’re editors, and they should be held responsible. They shouldn’t get an exemption. I don’t have an exemption. You don’t have an exemption. I think it they would have to be more careful about what they reported. They would have to be true forums — and be eligible for the 230 exemption — or hire people to review their stuff and not post anything that’s defamatory or libelous.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Could you please explain to my listeners what the 230 is?

CHRIS RUDDY: There is a law that allows companies to host chat rooms, open forums and social media and not be responsible for the content that’s posted in their forums — and to not be subject to lawsuits.

CHRIS RUDDY: Otherwise, there’s so much information coming through those pipes that it would be very hard for any one company to monitor, edit and carefully aggregate it.

CHRIS RUDDY: On one hand, it gives them a tremendous advantage because they can aggregate content and not do so responsibly. And they could get huge amounts of people to participate in that content but never be held to the same standards as regular media organizations. It’s very expensive to put journalism together.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: But they really are media outlets. By all definitions, that’s what they’re doing.

CHRIS RUDDY: They have done it by stepping in and saying, “This one is true, and this one’s false,” or “This one can be published, and this one can’t be.” It looks like the Trump administration caught wind of this too late.

CHRIS RUDDY: It’s interesting because the Big Tech companies really clamped down after the election. There’s a view that they are monopolies. Interestingly enough, Biden and his administration have associated themselves — and the Democrats — with people that don’t like big monopolies. They would like to break them up in some way — which I actually agree with.

CHRIS RUDDY: I think they’re monopolies and that they should be subject to more competition. They’re trying to curry favor by going after Trump and other Republican sources. That could be true. It certainly seems like a lot of this has been done after the election rather than before.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I just wonder what breakups eventually do. For example, how would you break up Google — where most of its businesses is search? Even if you break it up, what actually happens?

CHRIS RUDDY: There are a lot of ways. There are different ways regarding search advertising. [Google] has huge control over advertising. So, you could break up how [the company] advertises. It also controls the largest video content provider: YouTube. YouTube could be broken out as a separate company, so you wouldn’t have the synergies and anti-competition activities of both companies working together.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I’m not well versed in this to carry on further. But I remember AT&T being split up.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: We split up AT&T into little baby bells, and all the baby bells started to come back together again. The more things change, the more they remain the same. I don’t know how that’ll play out.

CHRIS RUDDY: I think we should all argue for competition. I don’t think we’re a laissez faire approach to businesses that control so much of our economic activity on the Internet. You have two companies that basically control all advertising on the Internet — Google and Facebook. I think there’s a problem with that. It limits competition. So, government plays a legitimate role in promoting competition in those environments. I think competition is key to a free enterprise system.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: It’s amazing what they’ve done in such a short period of time. I have one last question for you. Where do you see Newsmax in the next three to four years?

CHRIS RUDDY: I think we’re going to become a dominant player in cable news and OTT news. I combine them in one area. Even if we don’t necessarily beat Fox in the cable world, our growth there, coupled with what we’re doing online — where people can get us on apps, smart TVs, Pluto, and Roku — is going to make us one of the most dominant players in television news.

CHRIS RUDDY: I think that’s well underway. We don’t have much competition in that area. I think the next two or three years are going to be really good. We’re going to play an important role in being loyal opposition to the Biden administration — where the media has been so sympathetic to him — which is what I said back in November. We will continue to do that.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Outstanding. Chris Ruddy is the CEO and founder Newsmax. You’re the guy who put it all together in 1998 with $25,000?

CHRIS RUDDY: That was the initial investment, yes.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Where’d you get that from?

CHRIS RUDDY: I got it from a friend’s family at Long Island. They were very kind to invest. I went on to raise some significant capital. But it was the early investors who played a key role.

CHRIS RUDDY: My success started with loans. I needed $12,500 to rent a seat and have enough money in my trading account when I became a floor trader in the New York Futures Exchange. That $12,500 was everything. That was it. Without that initial investment, life would have been a lot different.

CHRIS RUDDY: Charles, I think you’re still a good investment.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I love it, Chris. I should have come to you. You would have given me the whole thing in one swoop. That would have been a good deal, huh?

CHRIS RUDDY: [Laughs]

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Chris Ruddy, thank you. Thanks so much. I wish continued success to you. Outstanding. I hope Newsmax continues to grow and grow. You’re doing a fantastic job. You and your team are doing an amazing job.

CHRIS RUDDY: And [I wish] great success to you and your podcast. It’s really important to have independent voices out there.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Thank you, Chris.

CHRIS RUDDY: Thank you.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Thanks for listening to this episode of The Charles Mizrahi Show. If you’re a new listener, welcome! If you’ve been listening for a while, we’re glad to have you back. Either way, we’d love to know what you think of the show. Please leave a review if you listen on Apple Podcasts. Reviews make it easier for others to find the show. You can also see a video of the interview on The Charles Mizrahi Show Channel on YouTube.

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