With TV news viewing polarized, slice of Republicans leaving Fox to watch Newsmax

By Anthony Man

South Florida Sun Sentinel

New evidence shows Newsmax is enjoying newfound popularity among the community of Donald Trump supporters, Republicans and conservatives — as some have turned away from their longtime media home at Fox News Channel.

A public opinion poll of Republican voters released Tuesday showed that in the new conservative media order that followed Trump’s losing the presidency, Fox has suffered some defections. Newsmax and another far-right upstart, OANN, have gained.

“Among GOP voters nationally, Newsmax and OANN are hot on Fox News’ tail thanks to Fox defections and Trump supporters,” pollster Tony Fabrizio wrote in a Twitter post releasing the survey results.

Fox is still, by far, No. 1 among Republicans.

The survey from Fabrizo, Lee & Associates found that 27% of Republicans said they watch Fox daily. A total of 48% watch at least weekly.

Newsmax, the Boca Raton-based channel trying to muscle in on Fox’s territory, is in second place — far behind Fox.

The pollsters said 13% of Republicans watch Newsmax daily, slightly less than half the number who said they are daily Fox viewers. A total of 26% watch Newsmax weekly, slightly more than half the share who said they are weekly Fox watchers.

The report, “GOP Voters’ News Network Viewing Habits” comes from a prominent Republican polling firm. The “Fabrizio” in Fabrizio Lee is Tony Fabrizio, who was Trump’s chief pollster. Pollster ratings from FiveThirtyEight.com give Fabrizio Lee a B/C rating for its data gathering and accuracy.

One of the notable numbers, highlighted by Fabrizo, Lee in the survey report released Tuesday is that 14% of Republican voters said they no longer watch Fox News. That’s about 1 in seven Republicans answering, “used to watch, don’t watch anymore.”

Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy said via email that “Millions are tuning into Newsmax because Fox has become old, stale and inconsistent.” Fox News didn’t comment on the survey.

Both Newsmax and Fox are seeking viewers loyal to the former president.

Newsmax this month hired Andrew Giuliani as a “political analyst & correspondent.” He is the son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who pushed unfounded conspiracy theories claiming Trump didn’t really lose the 2020 presidential election. Andrew Giuliani held a mid-level job in the Trump White House.

Fox this month hired former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany as a contributor.

Republicans have abandoned traditional, mainstream news organizations more than Fox, the poll found.

The survey found that about 22% of Republicans said they no longer watch ABC News, CBS News, NBC News or CNN. More than a third of Republicans said they “never watched” any of those organizations.

Still, almost a quarter of Republicans say they watch news on ABC, CBS or NBC at least once a week.


The poll shows just how much partisanship plays into viewing choices.

No. 3 for Republicans is Fox Business Network, which 12% of Republicans said they watch daily and 23% said they watch weekly. That’s so close to Newsmax, and within the poll’s margin of error, that Fox Business and Newsmax effectively are tied.

At the other end of the political spectrum, just 3% of Republicans watch MSNBC daily and 9% at least weekly. MSNBC is the longtime favorite of Democrats and the political left. During the Trump presidency, MSNBC’s prime-time opinion shows were overwhelmingly critical of Trump and Fox’s were overwhelmingly supportive of Trump and critical of Democrats.

Republicans also don’t much like CNN, which Trump consistently attacked in office and devoted much of its prime-time schedule to criticism of the former president. Just 4% of Republicans said they watch CNN daily and 13% watch at least weekly.

The results come from a nationwide survey of 1,264 Republicans from Feb. 20 to March. 2. The responses were drawn from two methods of online surveying and adjusted to ensure the results match demographics, such as gender and age. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


The Newsmax website was founded 1998 by Ruddy, and he launched Newsmax TV in 2014. It’s been a small player, hard to find for people who don’t look. On Comcast cable, it’s on channel 1115, far away from the big, well-known cable news outlets.

Catering to the political right, especially to fans of Trump, paid off after the November 2020 election, at least initially.

Trump got angry at Fox News — which joined the mainstream media in reporting Joe Biden as the winner — and began sending his followers to Newsmax.

Capitalizing on the newfound interest in the channel, the channel announced expansion plans, hired new hosts and began a weekend talking-heads show — and had some highly publicized on-air incidents including a host walking off the set when a guest wouldn’t stop talking about voting machine conspiracies and another host criticizing the appearance of one of President Joe Biden’s dogs.


Ratings from Nielsen Media Research show that Newsmax’s ratings have declined since the immediate aftermath of the presidential election.

In November, Newsmax’s 24-hour ratings and prime time ratings went up.

But comparing the week after the election to the first week in March, Newsmax ratings are down 51% among all viewers and 55% in prime time.

The website Mediaite reported that Newsmax also dropped in cable rankings from 27th among total viewers in prime time the week of Nov. 16, to 52nd the week of Feb. 22 and dropped in total ratings for 24-hour periods.

The big three cable news networks also declined, Mediaite reported, but not as much as Newsmax.

Ruddy said Newsmax is pulling audience from Fox, and ratings don’t tell the complete story. He said it streams free on dozens of streaming platforms including Roku and YouTube, giving it additional viewers not connected to cable.

Newsmax got attention in December when its 7 p.m. show “Greg Kelly Reports” got more viewers in a key group, people age 25 to 54, than the 7 p.m. Fox show — on one night.

That win was fleeting, however.