A new survey suggests it’s having an impact.
The survey from Gallup and the Knight Foundation shows an increase in the number of Americans who name Newsmax and OAN as being among two to three news sources they rely most upon.
Many more still reference Fox News, but Newsmax in particular has risen significantly in the consciousness of American news consumers. In the same survey in July 2019, precisely zero (not just zero percent) of the respondents cited Newsmax; in the latest survey, conducted shortly after the 2020 election, 7 percent named Newsmax. That’s greater than the Associated Press (5 percent) and nearly on par with The Washington Post (8 percent) and CBS News (8 percent).
Combined, Newsmax and OAN gained 11 total mentions per 100 people — up from just one combined in that July 2019 survey. Fox was mentioned by 27 out of 100 people, which is its second-lowest rate in 11 surveys, although not significantly different from previous ones.
Other conservative outlets, including the Daily Wire, Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh’s show and the Blaze were also mentioned as much or more than in previous surveys. If you combine them with Newsmax and OAN, they’ve risen from six mentions per 100 people in July 2019 and early 2020 to 19 in 100 people today.
Despite no significant drop in reliance on Fox, the survey did show that many people who watch it say they are not fully committed. It asked people what they would do if their news source “decided to change its reporting and commentary to try to convince people it does not favor one party over the other.” Four in 10 (41 percent) said they would continue to rely upon Fox “most often” — less than the 50 percent for all outlets — while 21 percent would no longer use it, which is higher than the 16 percent across all outlets. Another 38 percent said they would rely upon it less.
The biggest decline is in people’s reliance upon local news. The data shows a particular decrease when it comes to local TV, but also a drop in the number of people citing local newspapers, which continue to struggle to survive.
As with the increasing reliance on conservative outlets such as Newsmax and OAN, this has been particularly pronounced over the past two months, in the surveys bookending the election.
The data below on local TV news combines the people citing local TV programs more broadly and those specifically citing local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates.
It all suggests the election is spurring significant decisions among viewers when it comes to which outlets they rely upon — at least for now. This has accrued in particular to the benefit of Newsmax, which is also borne out in its ratings. (OAN doesn’t subscribe to industry-standard Nielsen ratings, and these numbers don’t show a particularly large shift in its favor.)
It also suggests many Trump supporters are in the market for unquestioning coverage of his voter-fraud claims. In a recent interview with the New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner, Newsmax chief executive and Trump ally Christopher Ruddy made clear he sees broadcasting baseless claims as being good for business.
“Well, I think before we even make the [voter-fraud] claim, we should say: ‘Hey, look at this anomaly. Why is this the case?’ And we start asking about it,” Ruddy said. “But you know what? At the end of the day, it’s great for news. The news cycle is red-hot …”
Ruddy added: “I would never do something that I thought was wrong or untrue. I didn’t create the news cycle … Donald Trump did. He created this whole thing. He could have accepted the results, but I’m saying, ‘Look at the amazing stuff that’s done for the news business.’ ”
One business, in particular.