In the long period of vote-counting after Election Day, outlets were hesitant to call a race unless they were confident. Many sites called several notable states for Joe Biden. But it was the small decisions that would matter for Fox News. At first, the outlet’s decision desk would predict that Biden would win Arizona. Then it would announce that Biden had won the official number of electoral votes, even though the votes were not all counted. Mix in rumors of voter fraud, and the Trump voter base’s loudest supporters seemed convinced the race was unclear, even if everyone else was not. Those two decisions of Fox’s were the spark that would lead to what appears to be a slow abandonment of Fox News among Trump’s most loyal fans.

In the days after, pundits and reporters in the right-wing media ecosystem like The Stream’s John Zmirak, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and  began to echo similar accusations. Some Trump supporters even declared the station far-left and a traitor to conservatism. After all, Fox’s news side often challenged the narrative of voter fraud that has failed to be the saving grace of Trump’s term.

But if the Right was souring on Fox News, where then would it turn? In the last 20 years, conservative businessmen have made several attempts to create a network that could compete with Fox News’ consistently high ratings . While these channels–One America News, Newsmax and The Blaze–often stay beneath the radar for anyone besides the most right-wing constituents, they’ve begun to get attention of the President and his base whenever Fox performs in a way that Donald Trump does not like. Over the last year, Trump has consistently derided Fox for their coverage choices, instead promoting other networks as alternatives that present what he views as the ‘real news.’


The oldest of the three potential Fox alternatives, Newsmax was founded in 1998 by Christopher Ruddy, a former reporter from the New York Post. Ruddy spent much of his career at right-leaning papers. His most notable work had him reporting and promoting conspiracies about Vincent Foster, a deputy White House counsel during the Clinton administration who committed suicide in 1994. In 1998, Ruddy founded Newsmax Media as an online venue with $25,000 provided by Richard Mellon Scaife.

Newsmax’s presence was low-key compared to many other conservative outlets, allowing it to develop a fruitful and famous online following in the early 2010s, with an estimated $35 million in revenue alongside web traffic that was higher than both Drudge and Rush Limbaugh’s websites as of 2009.  This dynamic internet presence turned Newsmax into an essential pit stop for Republican candidates during the 2012 elections. 

Newsmax, in many ways, existed as the precursor to Breitbart News. Both sites started out as an online presence that offered a place for commentary and partisan spin on hot-button issues. Over time, Breitbart would embrace a reliance on far-right sources, while Newsmax would When Donald Trump began to promote the notion of birtherism, Newsmax eagerly embraced it. 

In 2013, Ruddy expanded into broadcasting through a deal with DirecTV that brought Newsmax TV into almost 75 million homes. To fill its roster, Newsmax often relied upon former Fox hosts to fill its space, from Greg Kelly to Jesse Lee Peterson. Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer joined the channel in March 2020, eventually becoming one of Newsmax’s most popular commentators. The channel has also featured content from former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon.

Before the election, Newsmax could only draw 21,000 viewers on average a week–a sliver compared to Fox’s average of 3.9 million viewers daily between 8-11 PM EST as of Q3 2020.

However, Nielsen numbers have been exploding during election week due to growing opposition to Fox News. Since then, viewers have shot up into the hundred-thousands, with shows like Spicer & Co, receiving 700-800,000 viewers between 8 and 10 PM EST.

The Blaze

In 2010, Glenn Beck founded The Blaze in 2010 after departing Fox in hopes of creating his own lasting online news service. Both an online news outlet and a streaming service, The Blaze was initially picked up in 2012 by DirecTV, then by regional cable providers, like Cablevision in New York. The Blaze would abandon their cable deals in 2019 and return to an internet-only subscription format. The Blaze’s online presence has grown exponentially, outsizing older networks like Breitbart and Daily Wire as of September 2020. The news outlet’s Youtube presence is currently 1.27 million, placing them in a reasonably large margin

The Blaze’s online presence currently features Beck and Mark Levin as the two most notable conservative commentators on its listing. Other notable personalities on The Blaze include Youtube comedian Steven Crowder, former radio host Steve Deace and Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson. Content-wise, the channel often relies heavily on Beck-style conspiracy-mongering, threats of internment camps, and implying that the election is a spiritual nature battle.

While Beck’s news channelis less accessible due to relying on online subscriptions, its hosts are increasingly popular. All have a significant presence on social media. 

One America News Network

Initially founded in 2013 by Robert Herring, Sr., a California-based businessman and former tech CEO, OANN started as a collaborative effort with The Washington Times to create a Fox alternative. The Times would end their partnership with OANN in  became a pro-Trump channel early on, presenting Trump as the best candidate in the 2016 race. OANN ran several anti-Clinton programs, including a special titled Betrayal at Benghazi: The Cost of Hillary Clinton’s Dereliction and Greed. The CEO, Herring Sr, encouraged OANN reporters to investigate whether Hillary Clinton had a brain tumor. . In 2018, Herring expressed his total support for Trump by filing an amicus brief in support of the White House, after CNN filed a lawsuit against the White House for restricting CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s access. 

The channel has historically boosted multiple conspiracy theories, often at the behest of OANN’s CEO. A number of former OANN employees  told The Daily Beast that Herring would encourage anchors and reporters to promote content from far-right outlets like Gateway Pundit or InfoWars.

In the last year alone, OANN has promoted claims that the George Floyd demonstrations were an attempt at a coup, accused several news outlets of promoting foreign state propaganda and claimed that protesters planted pipe bombs at the Korean War Memorial despite no evidence of such. The channel relies on an extensive set of conspiracy theories to support its programming, including notions of a globalist cabal that includes figures like Bill Gates, George Soros, the Clintons and Obamas, and several other figures. 

 While OANN’s roster is less known than the other mentioned channels, they had the most crucial fan: Trump himself. Trump tweeted out support for OANN on several occasions, typically in the context of disliking Fox content. He has consistently promoted their content 

What does this change?

It will take time for academics and journalists to point to any particular broad data trends changing. However, one source of insight comes from Fox News’ place in the 2016 elections. In the book Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics, authors TK inserted much of the media produced during the 2016 elections into Media Cloud, a tech project operated by Harvard and MIT to track the origins and interlinked sharing of news stories. When it came to the big themes of 2016 among the right, two outlets stood out more than the others through the process; Breitbart and Fox News. These two outlets played a significant part in downplaying Trump’s negative coverage and creating counternarratives that allowed for consistent attacks on Hillary Clinton. Many of the talking points regarding Hillary Clinton did not gain notoriety in the circles of Republicans until Fox News distributed it beyond the online news channels.

If Fox lost its influence among many readers and viewers, conservatism would struggle to spread its messages to the non-online political-oriented right. This shift would make the formation of a coherent narrative harder. However, the odds of that occurring seems relatively low. 

Matthew Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, has studied Fox’s influence and similar networks on the Trump administration for the last four years. He has primarily done this by noting how Trump’s tweets often appear inspired by what he is watching on television.

 While Trump has voiced his opinion in condemning Fox’s decisions, it typically occurs whenever they offer coverage that is critical of him. Gertz views these posts as a sort of pressure upon Fox, as though he is chastising the company to present any content that criticized him. In a 2-year review of Trump’s tweets, Gertz found at least 1,146 tweets that could mention Fox News or Fox Business. Only 12 seem to refer to OANN. Trump has tweeted his animosity toward Fox after the election, but that has not changed his viewing habits. 

According to Gertz, “It’s still way more Fox content, with maybe a handful for Newsmax or OANN at most in the post-election period.” In the month of November, Trump has tweeted in reference to OANN directly 24 times, 7 times for Newsmax and 12 times for anything Fox. The majority of OANN tweets were in relation to events or broadcasts hosted by Trump’s legal team.

 The Blaze does not appear to even be on Trump’s radar, although its online presence has continued to grow.

So, where is this anti-Fox animosity going to end up? Gertz finds the notion of Fox losing its monopoly on right-wing media highly unlikely for one primary reason: production quality. While OANN and Newsmax are more sycophantic toward the president, they are just not as good. “The hosts are less talented,” Gertz told me. “The money on-screen is significantly less, and Fox is a more beautiful thing to be watching during the day.” 

That won’t stop OANN and Newsmax from acting as if they have a fighting chance, in any case. Both channels have a financial incentive to present their most significant competitor as members of the Far Left without losing supporters. And it would not be the first time. In 2016, Trump developed a somewhat controversial relationship with Fox after the presidential candidate insulted and berated Megyn Kelly after the primary debates. While Fox did smooth things over, Breitbart saw this chance and stepped in as a news alternative, eventually getting the attention of Trump as well as a significant news bump. This boost also allowed Steve Bannon to get Trump’s attention and become the campaign’s new campaign manager later that year.

While one could be skeptical to usurp Fox’s market control, the alternatives may develop a significant audience segment through the process. But will it hold water over time? It’s difficult to say, as there are substantial financial limitations. Out of all of the networks listed, Fox is still the only one with enough money to maintain CNN quality content. Fox has actual reporters, an extensive collection of opinion/commentary hosts and a professional-looking channel that does not look like a half-baked TV station from your favorite movie. OANN and Newsmax do not. And it is doubtful that even Trump’s own money could fix that.