Announcing their “Diamond and Silk Crystal Clear” show Friday on YouTube, the hosts expressed their displeasure with being behind a paywall on Fox’s streaming service, which charges members $5.99 per month for a subscription. “We also want to thank Newsmax for believing in Diamond and Silk and allowing us this opportunity and the platform,” said Rochelle Richardson, known as Silk. Her sister, Lynnette Hardaway (Diamond), interjected: “Not to put us behind a wall, but to have our own show on TV."
Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, who said in an announcement that Diamond and Silk are “the cutting edge of political opinion on cable news today,” clarified to The Washington Post that they are “not exclusive” to Newsmax and “are not employees of Newsmax.”
The jabs are just the latest chapter of a fairly tame competition between Fox News, the top-rated network in cable news, and Newsmax, which boasts a tiny audience (30,000 average viewers in prime time over the past month and a half, compared with Fox’s 3.2 million, according to Nielsen Media Research data). But Newsmax has notably scooped up cable news personalities who have either left their perch in the Fox News universe or were in need of a new network opportunity.
Earlier this year, Newsmax, which launched online in 1998 before introducing a TV channel in 2014 to serve “an audience of more than 80 million disenfranchised Baby Boomers,” debuted “Greg Kelly Reports,” a weekday prime-time show hosted by former Fox News White House correspondent Greg Kelly.
Since the Fox Business Network “parted ways” with anchor Trish Regan in late March after controversial comments on the coronavirus pandemic, she has made multiple appearances on Newsmax programs, including “Spicer & Co.,” a daily show hosted by former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. (Regan did not respond to a message about her potential interest in working for Newsmax.)
Spicer, who made regular guest appearances on Fox News but was not a paid contributor, said he’s “having a blast” hosting his nightly show. “They reached out last fall and said they wanted to talk about it,” he said. “It seemed like it was actually a really good fit. … I’ve had a real good time doing it.”
Viewers of Spicer’s show Thursday saw political analyst Mark Halperin, who lost his job on NBC News and MSNBC in 2017 after reports that he sexually harassed women while at ABC News, conducting a focus group over Zoom about whether Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) is “a sincere person.”
When asked about Halperin’s appearances on his network, Ruddy responded: “Mark Halperin has been posting or doing a focus group Zoom video on YouTube or his website. We thought we would test it on the weekends and see how the political talk did. There is no long-term agreement to run the show — just some test shows.” (Halperin did not respond to requests for comment.)
Newsmax simulcast Bill O’Reilly’s online commentary show “The No Spin News” after his departure from Fox News in 2017 after his own sexual harassment allegations surfaced. O’Reilly was never formally hired by Newsmax, and his show now airs on streaming network The First.
And the network has hired from the executive and producer ranks at Fox News, including news-side executive Michael Clemente and former “O’Reilly Factor” executive producer David Tabacoff, though both have stopped consulting for the network.
Like competitor One America News, Newsmax has risen to some prominence during Donald Trump’s presidency as a reliable supporter of his agenda, with programming to boot. Wednesday morning, for example, the channel rebroadcast a “special” program titled “Melania Trump: A Very Beautiful First Lady,” which has been airing for more than two years.
“It has always been the mission to help forward Donald Trump’s message,” said a former member of Newsmax management, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional retribution, speculating that the network’s recent programming additions are evidence that it is “ramping up” in advance of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Newsmax is gunning for Fox News’s viewers and is programming to that strategy, the former member of management said, adding, “They’re trying to stay as far right as they can to keep that audience."
While complimentary of Fox News opinion hosts, the president has frequently criticized the network’s weekend news anchors. On July 5, he tweeted that his followers should “watch @OANN & @newsmax instead.”
Diamond and Silk, who last hosted a show on Fox Nation in late March but never took “Fox Nation host” out of their Twitter biography, also encouraged their viewers to “ditch and switch” by turning off Fox News and tuning in to Newsmax.
“When the offer was presented, I started watching Newsmax, and I noticed I was a lot more calm,” Diamond said. “It was like the story was balancing. I didn’t see them just beating up on our president.”
Below their video announcement, Diamond and Silk superfans expressed their support. “So proud of you two!” one wrote. “Fox has changed but you didn’t! We got your back and support! OAN and Newsmax are the REAL conservative networks of the future!”