It is one of the unexpected consequences of the demise of Donald Trump. People like Mitch McConnell and Liz Cheney and Kevin McCarthy look almost rational next to the likes of Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Sidney Powell. But that is just an illusion. They’re all of them rotten underneath. The more sedate among them just don’t want to lose their political power or get sued.
Neither does Newsmax. Let’s face it, when it comes to defending Donald Trump in particular and Trumpism in general, most loonies will go just as far as their wallets and no farther. Newsmax is no exception. So when they had Michael James Lindell (the “MyPillow guy”) on the air so they could pitch him softball questions about the First Amendment and getting banned on Twitter, Lindell insisted on crying into a different pillow. He wanted to rant about Dominion Voting Systems instead.
Newsmax would have none of it. Their lawyers had warned them that they were already just a hair’s breadth away from getting sued into the Bronze Age if they so much as hinted that they didn’t like the color of the Dominion Voting Systems’ logo.
Having Lindell on to repeat the lie that Dominion had somehow stolen the election from Donald Trump wasn’t just dangerous — it was suicidal. Dominion can and will take them to court and they can and will win. Their innocence is easy to prove because it’s true.
After repeatedly trying to get Lindell to shut up about Dominion, Newsmax anchor Bob Sellers finally just walked off the set. He didn’t want to get sued either. Singaling, perhaps, that finally some of these rightwing wackos are waking up to reality? Not so fast.
Complaints from rabid Newsmax viewers about how “unfairly” the MyPillow guy was treated reminded Bob Sellers who the real boss is here, that and the fact that MyPillow is one of Newsmax’ biggest sponsors. So Sellers came back on Wednesday and issued a smarmy, oleaginous apology, not to Dominion Systems but to MyPillow Michael!
“Mike [Lindell] thought that we were to talk about vote fraud in the recent election. It’s a topic we have covered extensively on Newsmax,” Sellers simpered. “I was frustrated that we couldn’t focus on the current, very pressing issue of free speech and cancel culture and, in hindsight, there is no question that I could have handled the end of the interview differently.”
Like many alt-right entities and people, Newsmax finds themselves these days between a new Scylla and Charybdis. The alt-right is fuelled by hatred and lies about their victims, and many of those victims can sue. But their fans and viewers insist that the hate and the lying continue unabated. The conspiracy theories need to be repeated — they are monsters that must be fed — as far the fans and some of the more radical sponsors are concerned, and damn the consequences.
Voices for extremist lies such as Newsmax have a dangerous tightrope to walk, but it’s a tightrope of their own creation, and we should have absolutely no sympathy for them. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.