Newsmax peddles an ‘alternate universe’ of Jan. 6 misinformation, report says
Conservative TV channel Newsmax is presenting viewers with an “alternate universe” of how the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol unfolded Jan. 6, 2021, a new research report finds.
Newsmax has broadcast at least 40 false claims or conspiracy theories about the attack since June, when a House committee began televising its evidence about the role former President Trump and his allies played in the day’s events, according to NewsGuard, a tech firm that monitors misinformation.
“If you’re watching Newsmax, you may come away with an entirely different feeling of what happened at the hearings and what happened on Jan. 6,” NewsGuard analyst Jack Brewster said of the findings.
Many of the falsehoods, presented by anchors, reporters and guests who include Republican members of Congress, have been repeatedly debunked. Newsmax did not comment on the report.
Anchors and guests have claimed that there were only a few hundred rioters or that they were “unarmed,” despite photos taken from that day and federal charges that show some were armed with guns or used pepper spray, flagpoles and stun guns as weapons. The Justice Department estimates that at least 2,000 people entered the U.S. Capitol.
Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified last month that Trump had been informed that protesters were armed with weapons.
DirecTV’s decision to drop OAN and Newsmax’s loss of several smaller systems are driven by economic pressure, not politics.
Another false claim that Trump ordered National Guard troops to the scene, only to be blocked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), was repeated 11 times since the Jan. 6 committee began its hearings June 9, for example. That claim was proven false more than a year ago: Pelosi doesn’t direct the National Guard.
The false claims broadcast on the Trump-friendly Newsmax echo the misleading defenses regularly offered by Trump, as well as his allies, about the violent day in Washington. Newsmax is also named in a defamation lawsuit by voting-machine manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems over baseless claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent — the lie that spurred many protesters to travel to and riot at the Capitol.
Newsmax, which is available on most cable, satellite and streaming services, is watched by about 200,000 viewers daily. Brewster, who has been monitoring television misinformation around the Jan. 6 hearings, said Newsmax has most regularly aired falsehoods about the insurrection compared with other conservative TV channels.
“I was most shocked by the durability of these claims,” Brewster said. “These are false claims that are not new. A lot of them have been repeated ad nauseum.”
Newsmax has not livestreamed the hearings in full, and in a June press release described the hearings as “political theater.”
The next hearing is scheduled for prime time Thursday.
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