MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s latest political rally featured a speech by former President Donald Trump, in which he railed against voter fraud again.
Trump delivered his comments via satellite at the Saturday event. He repeated unfounded claims about fraud during the 2020 election and took aim at President Joe Biden’s efforts to reverse his policies.
Trump seemed to respond directly to the Biden administration’s announcement on Friday that it would pull more than $2 billion in funding Trump had diverted to pay for a wall along the southern border.
“All Biden had to do – all he had to do was leave it alone,” Trump said. “So we went from the most successful, the safest border in the history of our country – think of that – to the worst and most dangerous border.”
After Trump spoke to the crowd in New Richmond, Wisconsin, droves of attendees could be seen walking out of the event. A series of videos posted on Twitter on Saturday showed attendees leaving as the pillow pitchman spoke.
Axios reported in March that the Florida Republican was eyeing an early retirement from politics to take a job at Newsmax. It cited three sources familiar with Gaetz’s conversations around the prospect of early retirement, one of whom said he had held early discussions with Newsmax about a potential role.
A source familiar with Newsmax’s policies this week confirmed that reporting, telling Reuters: “Earlier this year, [Gaetz] reached out and said he might leave Congress early and was interested in TV work.”
The source said that Newsmax management had “just a conversation” with Gaetz and “never told him we were interested” in hiring him.
It comes after Fox News also rejected the possibility of hiring Gaetz.
“No one with any level of authority has had conversations with Matt Gaetz for any of our platforms, and we have no interest in hiring him,” a spokesperson said in April.
The Axios report was published on March 30, just one day before the New York Times reported that the Justice Department was investigating whether he violated sex trafficking laws by conducting a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in 2019.
Gaetz’s name is not mentioned in the document detailing Greenberg’s charges but the lawmaker is reportedly the target of the same criminal investigation as Greenberg, and the two men were closely associated in Florida Republican circles, Insider’s Sonam Sheth reported.
Trump’s address at the North Carolina GOP State Convention on Saturday night was the first time the former president had made a public address since his Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) speech in February.
Fox News was once Trump’s favorite news channel, but he has repeatedly trashed it in recent years. He has called it “unwatchable” and has urged his followers to watch “anything else,” Insider’s Yelena Dzhanova reported.
One America News (OAN) and Newsmax are now battling it out for pro-Trump viewers, Insider reported. Both of the conservative networks decided to air the former president’s speech live, Newsweek said.
MSNBC showed some of the address, with a correspondent speaking over the remarks, Newsweek added.
Insider reached out to Fox News and CNN for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
“Then there was Newsmax, which likes to project an image of being home for conservative, right-leaning or at the very least center-right news,” Pearson Sharp said. “A place where anyone who’s tired of Fox’s increasingly left-wing angles can find a fresh take on news. But is that really the case?”
Sharp then moved on to criticize Newsmax for its coverage of the 2020 election results.
“If you dig deeper under the Newsmax image of so-called conservative news, you’ll find a very different, much more left-leaning organization,” he said.
“Newsmax threw Trump under the bus and buckled almost immediately, declaring Biden the next president, despite all the evidence of massive fraud and without waiting for the contested battleground states to finish their investigations,” Pearson added.
There is little indication to suggest that it has a left-wing bias.
It was famously sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems after consistently promoting false claims about the 2020 election being rigged, Insider’s Jacob Shamsian reported.
OAN is also popular in conservative circles, and more explicitly prides itself on its pro-Trump credentials than its rival. The media outlet has described itself as one of the “greatest supporters” of Trump, The Hill reported.
Then, on Thursday, Newsmax’s Greg Kelly shared another one.
It is largely innocuous: Trump and Kelly are standing, each giving a thumbs up. It’s one of a string of photos that have trickled out of, mainly, Mar-a-Lago since the former president has been barred from social media.
He was immediately ridiculed on Twitter, and then followed up by bragging that the moto-inspired khaki cargo pants he was wearing are actually Balmain, “the most prestigious brand in PANTS.” (Oh, and his shoes are Ferragamo.)
Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield on Friday criticized President Joe Biden for stopping to pick a dandelion for first lady Jill Biden while they walked to the Marine One helicopter on the White House Ellipse, saying that if the flower is blown “then everybody starts sneezing.”
As Stinchfield remarked on the president’s gesture for his wife of 44 years, the television chyron read: “Biden bizarrely gives Jill a dandelion.”
“All right folks, take a look at this,” he said. “Joe Biden, getting on Marine One, and he stops and picks up … I think it’s a dandelion? But it’s a dandelion that hasn’t even blossomed into a flower yet, like it gives everybody asthma. So you blow it, it goes everywhere, and then everybody starts sneezing. Well, he picks up the weed and gives it to Jill as what I guess is supposed to be some kind of a sweet gesture.”
He added: “I say it was a planted dandelion there. Who knows?”
An executive at Dominion Voting Systems moved to dismiss Newsmax as a defendant in a defamation lawsuit Friday after reaching a settlement with the right-wing media organization.
It’s the first such settlement from a news organization in a defamation lawsuit filed over 2020 election conspiracy theories.
The lawsuit, filed by Dominion’s head of product strategy and security Eric Coomer, is among several filed over false claims that election technology companies like Dominion rigged the election against former president Donald Trump and in favor of now-President Joe Biden.
Coomer sued Newsmax in December in state court in Colorado over false claims that he took part in an “Antifa conference call” to rig the 2020 presidential election against Donald Trump. He revised his lawsuit in February to bolster his claims against Newsmax, as Insider previously reported.
“There are several facts that our viewers should be aware of. Newsmax has found no evidence that Dr. Coomer interfered with Dominion voting machines or voting software in any way, nor that Dr. Coomer ever claimed to have done so,” the statement reads. “Nor has Newsmax found any evidence that Dr. Coomer ever participated in any conversation with members of ‘Antifa,’ nor that he was directly involved with any partisan political organization.”
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in the court filings reviewed by Insider. A representative for Coomer declined to comment on the settlement terms. A representative for Newsmax declined to comment and directed Insider to its apology statement.
Coomer went into hiding after receiving death threats over the conspiracies
Coomer first became the subject of conspiracy theories after Joe Oltmann, a right-wing political operative, claimed without evidence that he was a member of “Antifa” – a loosely linked group of left-wing activists who oppose fascist movements – and worked to rig the 2020 election. Numerous lawsuits, recounts, and investigations have turned up no widespread evidence of irregularities in the 2020 election.
Oltmann’s baseless claims spread like wildfire in right-wing media circles, and Coomer went into hiding after receiving numerous death threats. Coomer sued more than a dozen right-wing media figures he claims were responsible for pushing the conspiracy theories. He alleged defamation, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and civil conspiracy over the claims.
In a statement, Cain and Skarnulis PLLC, the law firm representing Coomer, said he continues to receive death threats.
“Six months after the election, Dr. Coomer continues to receive death threats and harassment from those who believe the false conspiracy theories,” the statement reads.
All of the other people and organizations Coomer has sued – including Oltmann, Trump’s campaign, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, One America News Network, and others – remain defendants in the lawsuit.
“With respect to the remaining defendants, Dr. Coomer is seeking damages to his reputation and livelihood and, once certified by the court, punitive damages,” the statement from Coomer’s law firm reads.
The amended lawsuit was filed in February but received scant attention. It adds more detail about the lengths the conservative operative Joe Oltmann went to push a baseless conspiracy theory about Coomer, as well as the degree to which Newsmax – owned by Trump’s friend Christopher Ruddy – played a role in spreading it.
The lawsuit accuses Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, conspiracy theorist attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and right-wing media outlets like Newsmax, One America News, and The Gateway Pundit of boosting false claims about him. The defendants in the lawsuit, Coomer says, all pushed a false conspiracy theory from Oltmann, also a defendant in the lawsuit, that Coomer participated in an “Antifa conference call” for how to rig the 2020 presidential election.
While Oltmann initially said he has a recording of Coomer participating in the call, he’s never produced it and there’s no evidence it exists. Coomer says he has no involvement with Antifa – a loosely linked group of left-leaning activists who oppose fascist movements – and did not participate in any such call. There is also no evidence the results of the 2020 election were rigged, or that Dominion Voting Systems or members of Antifa made any effort to rig them.
But Oltmann’s claims spread like wildfire among far-right media circles, and Coomer went into hiding in December amid the threats against him and his family. Coomer filed his lawsuit shortly afterward “in an effort to unwind as much of the damage as possible done to me, my family, my life, and my livelihood as a result of the numerous false public statements that I was somehow responsible for ‘rigging’ the 2020 presidential election,” he said in a statement at the time.
Newsmax hosted Oltmann on its shows
Newsmax hosted Oltmann on Michelle Malkin’s show “Sovereign Nation” in November where she did not contradict his claims about Coomer and appeared to support them, according to the lawsuit.
A few days later, Newsmax hosted Powell on Howie Carr’s show where she parroted Oltmann’s claims. The right-wing network hosted numerous guests throughout the month of December who made the same false claims about Coomer, the lawsuit alleges.
“Newsmax repeatedly promoted these false allegations of voter fraud. Newsmax took no efforts to verify or corroborate the false allegations against Dr. Coomer and Dominion before publishing them and disregarded reliable sources establishing the contrary,” the lawsuit reads. “It had no credible evidence of any ‘Antifa conference call;’ that Dr. Coomer was part of this purported call; or that Dr. Coomer committed election fraud or subverted the results of the election.”
Dominion removed information about specific employees from the web in response to threats. Newsmax made that appear nefarious, the lawsuit says.
“Newsmax suggested nefarious intent when noting that Dominion had ‘scrubbed [Dr. Coomer] from their website.'” the lawsuit alleges. “In reality, Dr. Coomer had not been on Dominion’s website for years and Dominion employees’ identities were removed from third party marketing sites as an essential safety precaution given the numerous death threats already targeting them.”
In a statement to Insider, Newsmax described Coomer’s lawsuit as politically motivated.
“Newsmax exercised its First Amendment rights when it covered and reported on the electoral challenge claims made by President Trump, his attorneys and others, often relating to court documents,” a representative for Newsmax said. “Newsmax has consistently reported that Dominion was challenging claims made by the President and his lawyers, and we never embraced any claims about them as true or about Mr. Coomer.”
Oltmann doubled down at a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally ahead of the January 6 insurrection
While Newsmax was slow to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, it stepped back in response to legal claims. After Smartmatic, another election-technology company targeted in conspiracy theories, threatened to sue Newsmax, the media organization released a video “clarifying” its reporting and affirming that the 2020 election was sound.
But Oltmann doubled down. On January 5, he spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC ahead of the insurrection at the Capitol. In his remarks, he continued to push false conspiracy theories about Dominion and the election, and said it was “really fun” that Coomer was suing him, according to the lawsuit.
On January 26, Oltmann published a post on his Facebook page that appeared to threaten both Coomer and his attorneys, writing “Oh, and hi Eric Coomer. I’m never going to stop. You have no idea what information I have or how your loose lips and arrogance is your ultimate weakness.” He also said in a February 4 Facebook post that he would post a motion to dismiss Coomer’s lawsuit, but never did. Other posts on his Facebook page often reference elements of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Oltmann told Insider he stands by his claims about Oltmann and Dominion and said he doesn’t care about the lawsuit, calling it “window dressing to distract the public from the truth.”
Coomer’s lawsuit cites Oltmann’s fringe beliefs, and the January 6 insurrection, as evidence that the claims should be taken seriously by the court.
“Defendants’ conduct has resulted in direct harm to Dr. Coomer through their encouragement of violence and threats. This harm is not hypothetical. A direct manifestation of the harm caused by Defendants’ conduct is the armed insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021,” the lawsuit says. “Lies about election fraud, including lies about Dr. Coomer, incited the insurrection. The open use of force by the militants further confirms the seriousness of the threats being made against Dr. Coomer.”
Coomer’s lawsuit is distinct from the ones filed by Dominion. As a company, Dominion has filed separate defamation lawsuits against Powell, Giuliani, and pillow mogul Mike Lindell. Smartmatic has filed its own defamation lawsuit as well.
“Dr. Coomer’s claims are personal, as his reputation has been damaged and his safety has been threatened,” a spokesperson for Coomer told Insider. “It was important to assert those claims in court now, to let those responsible know they will be held accountable.”
Newsmax host Greg Kelly and a guest on his show on Friday went after the appearance of President Joe Biden’s dog, Champ, prompting a wave of criticism and ridicule on Twitter.
Kelly said that Champ, a German Shepherd, looks like he’s “from the junkyard.”
“Did you see the dog? I wanted to show you something I noticed. Doesn’t he look a little rough? I love dogs, but this dog needs a bath and a comb and all kinds of love and care. I’ve never seen a dog in the White House like this. I remember Buddy, I remember Milly, I remember lots of dogs, but not a dog who seems … I don’t know. I don’t know how much love and care he is getting. This dog looks like, I’m sorry, like it’s from the junkyard,” Kelly said.
Kelly then turned to his guests, including presidential historian and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, asking for their thoughts on Biden’s canine.
Shirley said Champ looks “dirty and disheveled” and “unlike a presidential dog.”
The segment and Shirley’s comments on Champ generated quite a stir on social media, with many questioning why Newsmax brought on historians to discuss the appearance of the president’s dog.
Shirley and Newsmax did not immediately respond to separate requests for comment from Insider.
Though not nearly as well-known as Fox News in terms of right-wing news outlets, Newsmax grew in prominence among many conservatives in 2020 as it amplified then-President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of mass voter fraud.
Trump gave one of his first post-presidency interviews to Newsmax this week, during which he reiterated his false assertion that the 2020 election was “stolen” and “rigged.” Claims like this from Trump helped catalyze a fatal insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, which led to the former president’s second impeachment.
Lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems sent letters Thursday to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Parler, asking them to preserve posts by more than a dozen high-profile far-right individuals and news outlets ahead of threatened defamation lawsuits.
“A number of posts on your website must be preserved because they are relevant to our client’s libel claims; these claims are based on false accusations that Dominion rigged the 2020 election,” lawyers from the firm Clare Locke, which represents Dominion, said in the letters.