Qatari royal invested $50 million in pro-Trump news channel Newsmax: report

Politics

Signage for the Newsmax conservative television broadcasting network is displayed at a broadcast TV booth at the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center, in Houston, Texas on May 28, 2022. 

Patrick T. Fallon | Afp | Getty Images

Right-wing news outlet Newsmax received an investment of roughly $50 million from a Qatari royal between 2019 and 2020, The Washington Post reported, citing documents seen by the paper and confirmations from representatives of both Newsmax and the royal investment firm.

Former Qatari government official Sheikh Sultan bin Jassim Al Thani invested in Newsmax through Heritage Advisors, a London-based investment fund that he owned, according to the report. At the time, Qatar was under an economic and diplomatic blockade by a coalition of neighboring Arab states, led by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. These nations accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, which Doha stringently denied.

According to the Post’s reporting on Tuesday, Newsmax was looking for investors to compete with the likes of Fox News. The paper cited sources employed at Newsmax at the time as saying that they were urged to soften news coverage of Qatar — a claim that the outlet rejects.

A representative for the outlet told CNBC in a statement: “In 2019 Newsmax received a minority investment from a UK-based fund with a Qatari investor that also invested in a company associated with the current Washington Post publisher. Newsmax’s coverage of Qatar has always been balanced, including publishing many online and TV reports quite critical of its activities.”

It added, “The Washington Post ignored the fact we have offered extensive negative coverage on Qatar over many years,” and included a long list of TV clips and articles to back up its assertion.

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In a response to CNBC’s request for comment, Heritage Advisors pointed to comment from its law firm Schillings, cited by the Post as saying that Sheikh Sultan bought the stake because he “saw potential for the investment to be profitable” and had not acted on behalf of the Qatari state.

The Qatari royal “transferred his stake to a Cayman Islands-based corporate structure,” the Post reported, adding that the $50 million investment represented a “significant minority stake.”

Newsmax has come under fire for what critics say is the promotion of misinformation or outright falsehoods, particularly former President Donald Trump‘s claim of the 2020 election being rigged. That led the outlet to be sued by Dominion Voting Systems, which seeks more than a billion dollars in damages for defamation.

Read the full report here.

Read the original article here

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