Newsmax founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy on Tuesday sought to quell speculation that the conservative television news channel and website would become a Trump-branded network after President Donald Trump departs the White House, telling CNBC that too much was being made of their personal relationship.
The Wall Street Journal on Sunday reported that people close to Trump have been considering ways to establish a rival to Fox News, which dominates the conservative cable landscape. The Journal reported that a private equity firm with a connection to the Republican National Committee, Hicks Equity Partners, had discussed the possibility of acquiring and investing in Newsmax.
“The Hicks family [is] very respected, but we had no deal with them,” Ruddy said on “Squawk Box.” “I think it was pretty clear in The Journal article, a lot of people are trying to see a tie with the president. I’ve been friends with him a long time. The Hicks family has been friends with him for a long time, but I think they’re reading into it a little too much.”
While Ruddy said Newsmax is not for sale, he told Variety this week that he would be open to giving Trump a weekly show on the TV network, which is now available on every major cable system in the U.S. and free on over-the-top services such as Roku and YouTube Live. He said viewership has soared before and after the election.
The Journal reported that Hicks Equity Partners was looking to raise $200 million for its conservative media ambitions. The private-equity firm is under the umbrella of the family office of Thomas Hicks, whose son, Tommy Hicks Jr., is co-chair of the RNC.
Ruddy said Newsmax’s valuation is higher than $200 million. He added, “Through the years, we’ve had a lot of people approach us to buy Newsmax, invest in Newsmax. These are often times very informal discussions. They’re not formal.”
Last week, Axios co-founder Mike Allen reported in his morning newsletter that Trump was considering launching a digital media company after his presidency, with the intention of rivaling Fox News. While Trump has leaned on the conservative-friendly cable channel to reach voters, Allen said that Trump has become increasingly upset with the network, evidenced by a spate of recent tweets and retweets pitching alternatives to Fox News such as Newsmax.
Trump has refused to concede the Nov. 3 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden, who was projected the winner by NBC News and other media outlets more than a week ago.
The president on Sunday acknowledged publicly for the first time that Biden won the election. Trump’s comments, made in a seemingly offhand post on Twitter, come as his campaign continues to challenge the results of the election in court and as his administration holds up formal transition processes.
However, in subsequent tweets, Trump wrote that he would not concede, and falsely claimed the election was rigged.