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"The walls have been breached": Newsmax leads the charge to out-Fox Fox News

A new class of conservative outlets and networks is racing to capture the attention of disgruntled Trump voters, who feel abandoned by traditional news companies and censored by social media.

Why it matters: Fox News, for years, has been criticized for polarizing coverage. Now, there’s a race unfolding among several conservative outlets who don’t think Fox is pro-Trump enough.


In the days after the election, conservative favorites like Breitbart, Drudge Report and Real Clear Politics began to lose traffic share to Newsmax and Gateway Pundit, according to data from web analytics company SimilarWeb.

  • Last week, Newsmax overtook Breitbart to become the most visited right-leaning news site.
  • TV ratings for Newsmax have surged — marquee host Greg Kelly has recently drawn as many as 1 million viewers a night — as President Trump continues to urge followers to abandon Fox News.

Chris Ruddy — who founded Newsmax in 1998, and took his channel to cable in 2015 — told Axios that a flood of defections followed Fox News' early decision to call Arizona (accurately) for President-elect Biden, which infuriated Trump.

  • "It felt like it was an earthquake on election night," Ruddy said during a 40-minute interview. "The walls have been breached."
  • Ruddy, a member at Mar-a-Lago and Trump's golf club in West Palm Beach, said the president, his longtime friend, called him Thursday to congratulate him on the Newsmax ratings — and complain about Fox News.

Trump has told friends he wants to start a direct-to-consumer, digital streaming media company to take on Fox News, as Axios scooped last week.

  • "Many great alternatives are forming & exist. Try @OANN & @newsmax, among others!" he tweeted Sunday. OANN (One America News Network) is a tiny, pro-Trump cable network that often peddles conspiracies.

Fox News has led cable ratings for nearly two decades, and continues to beat its cable rivals after the election, especially in prime time.

  • Fox News sees its competition as the broadcast networks, with wins in prime time since Memorial Day.

Between the lines: Fox News and other traditional conservative outlets face an identity crisis as they try to establish themselves for a post-Trump Washington.

  • As a successor to its "Democracy 2020" election branding, Fox News is now deploying the slogan "Standing Up For What's Right" in prime-time chyrons.

Apps are helping people of color stop deadly police encounters

Mobile phone apps are evolving in ways that can stop rather than simply document deadly police encounters with people of color — including notifying family and lawyers about potential violations in real time.

Why it matters: As states and cities face pressure to reform excessive force policies, apps that monitor police are becoming more interactive, gathering evidence against rogue officers as well as posting social media videos to shame the agencies.

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TikTok gets more time (again)

The White House is again giving TikTok's Chinese parent company more time to satisfy its national security concerns, rather than initiating legal action, a source familiar with the situation tells Axios.

The state of play: China's ByteDance had until Friday to satisfy national security concerns raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which is chaired by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin. This was the company's third deadline, with CFIUS having provided two earlier extensions.

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Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

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Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order

Counties around the San Francisco Bay Area will adopt California’s new regional stay-at-home order amid surges in cases and ICU hospitalizations, health officials said Friday.

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a three-week stay-at-home order on Thursday that would go into effect in regions with less than 15% ICU capacity. Despite the Bay Area’s current 25.3% ICU capacity, health officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and the city of Berkeley are moving ahead with a shelter-in-place mandate in the hopes of reducing risk.

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Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the COVID-19 vaccine approval process

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing two emergency use authorization requests for COVID-19 vaccines, with an outside advisory committee scheduled to meet next Thursday to review data from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

Axios Re:Cap digs in with former FDA commissioner Rob Calif about the EUA process, the science and who should make the final call.

The U.S. economic recovery needs rocket fuel

Data: BLS. Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday's deeply disappointing jobs report should light a fire under Congress, which has dithered despite signs the economy is struggling to kick back into gear.

Driving the news: President-elect Biden said Friday afternoon in Wilmington that he supports another round of $1,200 checks.

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CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

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Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

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