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White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany takes part in an interview with One America News Network (OAN) outside the White House on Nov. 18, 2020, in Washington, DC.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

In case you’ve forgotten, the thing to do, always, is follow the money.

This is especially true of the final outcome in the messy breakup between Fox News and outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump. It’s so messy, this breakup, it has more heartbreak and recrimination than an entire Taylor Swift album. In fact, Trump’s feelings, such as they might exist, can be summed up in Swift’s recent song Exile: “You’re not my homeland anymore/ So what am I defendin’ now?/ You were my town/ Now I’m in exile seein’ you out”.

While Swift might have a knack for metaphor to sum up a toxic relationship now demolished, Trump simply claims bitterly that Fox News ratings have collapsed. This isn’t true. He just wishes it were so, like a crybaby. You can accuse Swift of a lot, but she’s not a crybaby.

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Trump has reacted to diminishing loyalty from Fox News by telling his supporters to tune in to OANN (One America News Network) and Newsmax TV. This matters for two reasons: a) the constituency of Trump voters want a venue that tells them – dangerously – that the recent election was rigged; and b) there’s a lot of money to be made from the loyalty of the MAGA crowd. Fox News generates about US$1.1-billion in ad revenue a year.

A reporter with One America News Network works at a campaign rally with President Donald Trump at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport on Sept. 25, 2020 in Newport News, Va.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

What is OANN? In existence for seven years, it is the plaything of businessman Robert Herring. It is known, if at all, for its amateurish mimicry of an actual news network, for propagating conspiracy theories – it promotes the idea that George Soros is financing everything anti-Trump, it aired a “special report” on the assertion that the novel coronavirus began as a bioweapon cooked up in a lab – and sycophantic support of the Trump administration.

OANN is an outlier with few viewers. It does not subscribe to the Nielsen ratings system. Nielsen, for its part, estimates OANN has viewers in the mere thousands. Go to the OANN website and you find exhortations to call cable and satellite providers and demand that they carry OANN. Few carriers are interested, so far, it seems. Still, OANN soldiers on, pro-Trump. Owner Herring put this on Twitter last week: “Why is Biden still trying to act like he’s going to be president when he knows the Dem cheating has been uncovered?”

Newsmax TV is not in the business of spreading crackpot conspiracy theories, unless you’re talking about a rigged election that needs to be investigated. It is all-in, supporting the claims of Rudy Giuliani and other Trump lawyers, that Trump won by a landslide and only a massive fraud made Joe Biden seem the winner. It is giving tons of airtime to Trump’s legal team.

By the way, you can find Newsmax TV online in Canada and watch its livestream. There’s another outfit called “Newsmax Canada” which carries a lot of CBC.ca news stories. Obviously, this is not the pro-Trump Newsmax TV.

Newsmax is no outlier and stands to become a major player, a favourite of the MAGA nation. Established by right-wing journalist Christopher Ruddy, a guy with many connections to the Republican establishment, it was established in 2014, via DirectTV and Dish Network. It has 35 million subscribers and a slick digital presence. Overshadowed by Fox News, it rarely registered more than 200,000 viewers (Fox can go as high as 4.1 million), but recently it saw hours where it had more than a million viewers.

There are a couple of other interesting developments at Newsmax TV. It has begun to attack Fox News. On Friday, it berated Fox for calling Giuliani “a liar” after that bizarre news conference last week, and it has promoted Trump lawyer Sidney Powell’s disdain for Tucker Carlson. Also, it has Mike Huckabee, previously a Fox News host, onboard as a pundit, and it hired former White House press secretary Sean Spicer to host a show.

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Obviously, Newsmax TV is presenting itself as the new Fox News. It is ready to move from the fringe to being the focus of MAGA attention. Now, obviously, it is highly hazardous to American democracy to have a near-mainstream broadcaster telling its viewers that the 2020 presidential election was a fraud and Biden is an illegitimate president. But Newsmax TV wants viewers, ratings and ad dollars. Follow the money: When the MyPillow guy is advertising all over Newsmax, we’ll know the battle for MAGA voters is over.

Meanwhile, that messy breakup plays out. on Friday morning’s Fox & Friends, Geraldo Rivera suggested naming the COVID-19 vaccine after Trump, on the grounds that Trump needs to feel good right now: “With the world so divided and everybody telling him he’s got to give up and it’s time to leave and time to transition and all the rest of it, why not name the vaccine ‘The Trump.’” Oh, Geraldo, trying to be the good guy in the breakup, with his parting gift. Even though he’s the one doing the dumping. Swift surely has songs about that.

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