Newsmax has denied a report that claims the right-of-center commentary channel asked a Republican presidential candidate to pay for increased coverage on their network.
On Monday, online publication Semafor claimed two associates were familiar with an apparent private call between Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy in which the media mogul reportedly encouraged Ramaswamy to pay for advertising if he wanted more exposure to Newsmax’s typically conservative audience.
Semafor sourced the information to “two people to whom the candidate described the conversation,” though it wasn’t clear from the report if the rumors were substantiated by any materials reviewed by Semafor, such as phone records, voice recordings or email or text messages.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Newsmax called the allegations “categorically untrue and incorrect,” and said there was a wall between the company’s editorial and advertising teams, as is typical at other broadcasters.
“There is no correlation between advertising and editorial visibility for any candidate on Newsmax,” Bill Daddi, the spokesperson for Newsmax, said on Monday. “If candidates want to reach our audience outside of our programming, then, of course, advertising would be a good way for them to do this. That is the basis of all political advertising.”
Newsmax has typically foregone carriage fees for its channels on cable and satellite platforms in order to focus on distribution and reach, so it can charge more for its political advertising inventory. Nearly all of its programming concerns social or political issues, which is the type of content most favored by candidates and causes for their outreach and public messaging campaigns.
Candidates spend heavily toward television advertising during a presidential election cycle, and local and national television broadcasters depend heavily on political spending to carry them through slower ad cycles.
At least $11 billion will be spent on political advertising this year, according to one estimate, with around $200 million in political advertising inventory already purchased since July. Of that, around $70 million has been spent to support presidential candidates, according to AdImpact, and with current President Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee, the majority of the ad spending is focused on Republican candidates.