Newsmax ‘clarifies’ conspiracy theories about elections following legal threat from a voting technology company

All Monday, Newsmax viewers were treated to a brief – but remarkable – revelation from the network’s hosts: that Newsmax has no evidence that Dominion or Smartmatic manipulated the votes in the 2020 election; that Newsmax has no evidence that Dominion or Smartmatic has any relationship with George Soros; that Newsmax has no evidence that Dominion is using Smartmatic’s software or vice versa; and that Smartmatic is an American company, not owned by the Venezuelan government. Newsmax has it disclosure as a “clarification,” although the network claimed it had never spread conspiracy theories about the companies itself.
The extraordinary turnaround came after Smartmatic sent a blistering legal threat to Newsmax and other right-wing media earlier this month. Ben Rhodes briefly summarized the Monday reports: tweeting“So we’re going to be spreading massive amounts of total misinformation, like cancer spread by American democracy, but we don’t want to be charged either, so we’re offering this clarification.”
And while Fox News has also released a similar news pack in recent days that debunked some of the claims made by its own hosts and guests, arriving from Newsmax felt much more surreal. It can also have more business implications for the smaller network. After all, Newsmax has plucked viewers out of Fox by positioning itself as the home for election denial. Where Fox hadn’t gone far enough for some people, Newsmax was willing to do so – for example, he refused to recognize Joe Biden as president-elect until the Electoral College had officially cast its vote. Will this affect some of the benefits the network has achieved? Time will tell…
In addition to telling viewers that Newsmax had no evidence to support some of the wild conspiracies floating around the network, it appears hosts may have been warned to be more careful with the claims made about their programs. While Sebastian Gorka was filling in for Greg Kelly’s show at 7pm, Michael Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, started talking about Dominion. Gorka I.cut him off immediately. “That’s enough,” Gorka interrupted. “I don’t want to discuss – Mike, Mike, we’re not going to go into the details of the details.”
Justin Baragona of The Daily Beast made a good point about the sequence of events. Baragona tweeted“Imagine how confusing and annoying this must be to the viewers who flocked to Newsmax, especially as the broadcaster told them Trump’s election was stolen by corrupt voting software and Hugo Chavez.” I asked Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy Monday night what he would tell the perplexed viewers. I didn’t hear back …

To the credit of Newsmax …

At least the network had its hosts the “clarifications” to its viewers. Like WaPo’s Jeremy Barr tweeted“It feels a little different when it comes straight from a Newsmax personality, rather than what Fox News did, which is to use an industry expert who had no idea what his interview would be used for.”

OAN still feeds the viewers with fantasy

Fox and Newsmax may have run these packages to acknowledge the reality of the situation, but it should be noted that One America News continues to feed its viewers pure fantasy about the election. A Monday report from one of his personalities, for example, had a chyron that read, “‘DOMINION-IZING’ THE VOTE.” Another chyron read, “THE ART OF THE STEAL.”

For the record

– Will Fox News and Newsmax who support conspiracy theories spare them in a lawsuit? Attorney Ken White said, “I think they’re in big trouble.” (Law and crime)
– Ben Collins notes that Newsmax’s’ clarifications’ were a ‘great summary of the sheer amount of insane nonsense this network has been airing in recent months. If someone were to scream this stuff naked on a subway, it wouldn’t be out of place, and yet people keep this stuff at the head like it’s real news. “(Twitter)
– Charlotte Klein points out that “has used a slate of Republican officials [Newsmax] as a place to give free rein to their baseless claims. (Vanity Fair)
Mona Charen provides a good picture of the difference between how NYT corrected its “caliphate” error and how Fox News corrected the multitude of electoral errors and conspiracy theories circulated in its various programs. (The Bulwark) – Geraldo Rivera again opposed Trump’s denial of the election, saying on Monday that the “nagging” would only make him look like a “bad loser.” (Media site)
Media Matters senior fellow Matt Gertz is quoted in this USA Today piece on Newsmax and other right-wing challengers as saying, “Fox News is being forced to actually compete for its audience for the first time in years.” (USA Today)
Quite the phrase in this WaPo story: “Trump’s unofficial election advisory board now includes a pardon criminal, supporters of QAnon conspiracy theory, a White House trade adviser and the former lover of a Russian agent.” (WaPo)