In 1998, impressed with the way news of the Clinton impeachment circulated on the Internet, Ruddy decided to start an Internet news company. With financial support from Scaife and other investors, Ruddy founded Newsmax Media. The NewsMax.com website launched on September 16, 1998, with Ruddy serving as columnist and editor-in-chief. In addition to the web site, the company publishes a monthly magazine, also called Newsmax. After starting Newsmax, Ruddy was featured in a January 1999 Newsweek cover story as one of twenty "Stars of the New News."
In an October 2008 profile on Ruddy and Newsmax, The Palm Beach Post reported that Newsmax generates close to $25 million in revenues and is one of the most trafficked news websites in the U.S. In addition to its popular news portal, Newsmax.com, the company publishes Newsmax magazine and a host of health and financial newsletters.
A March 2009 profile of Ruddy and Newsmax on Forbes.com described his media company as the "great right hope" of the Republican Party and said after just a decade of operations it had become a "media powerhouse." Political analyst Dick Morris told Forbes that Newsmax had become the "most influential Republican-leaning media outlet" in the nation.
Dow Jones Marketwatch.com's media critic Jon Friedman noted that Ruddy had become a "bigger internet star than Rush Limbaugh" and that his web site ratings had surpassed that of the Drudgereport. Friedman suggested that Ruddy's success was due to a more balanced approach to news coverage and the GOP's worldview.
Folio magazine in its FOLIO 40 ranking identified Ruddy as a "C-Level Visionary" and notes that under his leadership Newsmax has flourished during the economic downturn "where success is really measured these days," continuing the Newsmax brand "ascendancy" both digitally and in print.
Though a conservative, Ruddy broke with the Bush Administration on the prosecution of the Iraq War, and was one of the first conservatives to do so. "I came out very strongly against the war in Iraq when it wasn't in vogue, back in 2004," Ruddy told The Palm Beach Post. "I lost some subscribers. But we are close to spending a trillion dollars on the war and there is no exit strategy," he added. "Lots of Republicans and conservatives are not that gung-ho on the war anymore and I think we broke the ice."
The paper noted that Ruddy, disenchanted by the war and runaway federal spending under Bush, re-evaluated the Clinton years and offered a kinder view of the administration he once criticized.
Compared with his reporting during Bill Clinton's presidency, Ruddy eventually took a more subdued view to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. He said she had moderated and no longer generated the same animosity among conservatives. Ruddy told The New York Times he and Scaife had changed their views: "Both of us have had a rethinking. Clinton wasn't such a bad president. In fact, he was a pretty good president in a lot of ways, and Dick feels that way today." This got some attention in conservative circles where Ruddy and Scaife were criticized for their new found liking of the former president. David Horowitz defended Ruddy in response, suggesting the comment referred to Clinton's domestic policies and arguing that Ruddy had not considered those objectionable even during the Clinton administration itself.
In the fall of 2007, Ruddy published a positive interview with former President Clinton on Newsmax.com, followed by a positive cover story in Newsmax magazine. The New York Times noted with reference to the event that politics had made "strange bedfellows".
Newsweek reported that Ruddy praised Clinton for his Foundation's global work, and explained that the interview, as well as a private lunch he and Scaife had had with Clinton (which Ruddy says was orchestrated by Ed Koch), were due to the shared view of himself and Scaife that Clinton was doing important work representing the U.S. globally while America was the target of criticism. He also said that he and Scaife had never suggested Clinton was involved in Foster's death, nor had they spread allegations about Bill Clinton's sex scandals, although their work may have encouraged others. Ruddy and Scaife again met Clinton for lunch at his office in September 2008. "We had a great time with him," Ruddy said of the meeting. He added, "We consider Bill Clinton a friend and he considers us friends." Forbes indicated the relationship between Ruddy and Clinton has continued and described them as "lunch chums."
During a 2010 campaign swing through Florida, President Clinton departed from his schedule to make a visit to Newsmax's offices in West Palm Beach. After a private meeting with Ruddy, Clinton toured Newsmax's offices and met with its staff.
A May 2009 New York Times Sunday magazine profile on the former president, "The Mellowing of William Jefferson Clinton," offered more details of the relationship between Ruddy and Clinton. The Arkansas Times said details about the friendship between Ruddy and Clinton in the New York Times profile was the "most amazing revelation" of their profile of the former president. Ruddy told the Times though he remained a "Reagan conservative," he had re-evaluated the Clinton presidency and suggested he had earned high marks as president for success in ending welfare, keeping government in check, and supporting free trade. Ruddy also noted that the Clinton Foundation was doing remarkable work globally.
In July of 2012, Ruddy was a member of the official delegation that accompanied President Clinton on his 5 nation tour of Africa, reviewing Clinton Foundation initiatives in the area of health care, HIV/AIDS programs, education and poverty alleviation.
During the delegation’s visit to Maputo, Mozambique, Ruddy blogged for the Clinton Foundation website, “The Clinton Foundation demonstrates that public-private partnerships and strategic engagement of private citizens, community members, and local governments can achieve great results in health care. And as I saw firsthand today in Mozambique, this work is innovative in its scope and in its purpose – which is to ensure governments can own and maintain their own health care systems without further reliance on aid. I applaud the Clinton Foundation for bringing together groups and individuals from all sides of the political spectrum to build a world that’s more equal, more sustainable, and that benefits us all.”
In July 2010, Newsmax made an unsuccessful bid for Newsweek. Though the newsweekly was purchased by another group, Ruddy said that if he had purchased the newsweekly he would not have changed its editorial direction, focusing instead on its business model. He claimed that within 18 months he would have brought the publication to profitability.
Read more about this topic: Christopher Ruddy
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