Ruddy Lobbied Trump Against Raising TV Cap
In a weekend appearance on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Newsmax owner and self-described friend of Trump Christopher Ruddy said he lobbied the president against raising the national ownership cap not just because of Sinclair, but also because of the “big liberal networks.”
“I told him [Trump] about my opposition because Sinclair would reach 70% of U.S. homes and, while I don’t disagree necessarily with Sinclair’s editorial point of view, I did not want to see NBC and ABC and the big liberal networks…[reaching] 70%.
“I think that would have been very dangerous if NBC was dictating the local news coverage in Des Moines, Iowa.
Was the appeal persuasive? Maybe not, Ruddy said. “The president, I think, had a different view on that.”
Ruddy rejected host Brian Stelter’s suggestion that Trump was the “invisible hand overseeing media regulation.”
“He is quite the opposite,” Ruddy said. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai runs an independent agency, he said, adding that he “showed a lot of integrity” in effectively rejecting the Sinclair-Tribune merger.
That decision, in the form of an order last Wednesday designating the merger for hearing, was bi-partisan and unanimous, he said. The order accuses Sinclair of misleading the FCC by retaining control over three stations that Sinclair said it was divesting to comply with FCC ownership rules.
Pai called for the order not because he disliked Sinclair, Ruddy said, but because Sinclair “refused to comply with the most basic regulatory rules.”
Ruddy joined liberal foes of media consolidation and cable interests in opposing the Sinclair-Tribune merger, which would have stretched Sinclair’s coverage from nearly 39% of TV homes to 66%, not 70% as Ruddy said.
Ruddy is a rival of Sinclair. Both have ambitions to challenge Fox News Channel in the conservative news arena.