When Brandon Burgess, CEO of ION Television, named the producers of the upcoming Republican presidential debate being cosponsored by Newsmax, in Iowa on December 27, he was ebullient in his praise: “ION, Newsmax and Mr. Trump are committed to host a serious presidential forum which will include some of the most reputable journalists and media people in the country.” The debate will be produced by veterans of CNN, CBS, and NBC News.
Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy was no less enthusiastic: “With Donald Trump and the top-notch media and production team led by Eason Jordan [who was president of CNN's news gathering for 23 years] we have organized, we expect that the Newsmax ION 2012 Presidential Debate will have the largest audience of any Republican primary debate to date.”
Those named to the production team reflect Ruddy’s long-standing and friendly relationship with the mainstream media, which goes all the way back to when Ruddy started Newsmax with money and significant help from Richard Mellon Scaife, heir to the Mellon banking interests and one of the 250 wealthiest individuals in the world. Scaife owns and publishes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which has been criticized for its overt bias in favor of Democratic political officeholders in Pittsburgh. Scaife was known for ignoring campaign finance rules, donating nearly $1 million to President Nixon’s reelection campaign in 1972 but escaping without ever being charged. He also endorsed Hillary Clinton in her run for the Democrat party’s nomination in 2008.
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Photo of Richard Mellon Scaife: AP Images