Over all, Newsmax remains a ratings minnow. On Tuesday evening, “Hannity” on Fox News drew 2.1 million viewers; “The Ingraham Angle” attracted 1.6 million. Fox News has pointed to Nielsen data showing that in the first three months of the year, it was the highest-rated network across all of cable TV. And the network has bounced back from losing stars like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck.
But the absence of Mr. Carlson, its biggest prime-time star, has been felt.
On Tuesday, Fox News lost to both CNN and MSNBC in the 8 p.m. hour among adults 25-54, an exceedingly rare defeat for the network in the key demographic for cable news advertisers. The “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade, sitting in for Mr. Carlson, fell short to Mr. Cooper on CNN and Chris Hayes on MSNBC in that coveted demographic, although he was first in total viewership.
Newsmax’s surge comes shortly after Fox News paid $787.5 million to settle a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology firm. Evidence in that case showed Fox News executives were deeply concerned by Newsmax’s growth after the 2020 election, when former President Donald J. Trump denounced the Murdoch-owned network for its projection that Joseph R. Biden Jr. would win Arizona.
At the time, Newsmax saw a burst in viewership, even recording higher ratings than the Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum one evening in December 2020. (Ms. MacCallum was switched to a different time slot not long afterward.) But its audience eventually shrank. And despite Mr. Trump’s complaints, Fox News continued as the undisputed ratings king of cable news, powered in part by Mr. Carlson’s increasingly provocative program.
So would Mr. Ruddy consider hiring the now-former Fox anchor for Newsmax?
“We would definitely be open to having a conversation with him,” Mr. Ruddy said, though he speculated that Mr. Carlson may follow the likes of Joe Rogan and pursue an independent podcast. “He’s one of the most influential and significant voices in conservative media, and he shouldn’t be ignored.”