Christopher Ruddy is the CEO of the conservative publishing organization, Newsmax, a former reporter, and self-proclaimed friend of Donald Trump.
How close are Ruddy and the president? Ruddy has started telling the media what Trump is thinking – at least according to Ruddy – and plunging the president into controversy.
Most dramatically, Ruddy went on television and claimed that Trump has contemplated firing Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
John Roberts, Fox News chief White House correspondent, reported, through a source, that Trump never said those things about Mueller.
Some have said that the “Trump considering firing Mueller” story is an example of “fake news.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ruddy Started Newsmax, a Conservative Media Organization, From Scratch
Ruddy launched Newsmax with only $25,000 and has built it into a $100 million organization, according to Forbes Magazine. The organization operates across multiple media platforms, including television, a magazine, and newsletters. Bloomberg puts the initial investment at $300,000.
According to his Newsmax bio, Ruddy “holds a B.A. summa cum laude in history from St. John’s University in New York and a master’s in Public Policy from the London School of Economics.”
The bio says he started Newsmax in 2008. His bio describes Newsmax as “a multimedia publishing company that publishes online and offline content in the fields of news, politics, health and finance. Newsmax.com ranks consistently as one of the country’s most trafficked news Web sites.”
The conservative sites Newsmax and Breitbart were among the only sites that took Trump’s presidency seriously early on, according to The Atlantic. According to the Atlantic, Newsmax’ email lists of readers are prized after by Republican politicians hoping to reach base voters.
2. Ruddy Is a Former Newspaper Reporter Who Covered the Clinton White House
Ruddy used to write for traditional news outlets, but he became enthralled with the power of the internet to share stories, according to Forbes. In particular, he noticed the success of the Drudge Report and decided to start his own conservative news organization.
“In the 1990s I was a journalist for the Pittsburgh Tribune review covering the Clinton White House. It was then the power of the Internet as a media platform really took off,” he told Forbes.
He was also a reporter for the New York Post, according to his biography. According to Bloomberg, Ruddy made his name reporting on the suicide of White House lawyer Vince Foster, a subject he turned into a book. “Billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife hired him to be the national correspondent for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,” reports Bloomberg.
3. Ruddy Was Called the ‘Zelig’ of the Trump Administration & Has a Membership to Mar-a-Lago
The Atlantic called Ruddy the media’s “favorite friend of Trump.” According to the magazine, “Ruddy, the CEO of the conservative-media organization Newsmax, has emerged during the early weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration as an unofficial conduit from the official inner sanctum of the presidency to the outside world.”
In March, Ruddy told Forbes contributor Miguel Forbes that he has known the president for 20 years, in part because he has a house in Florida.
“For years I would see him during the winter almost every week, and off-season I would see him in New York. I was with him when he opened his club in Scotland, the most impressive golf club I have ever seen,” he said.
Ruddy has posted photos of himself with Trump to his Twitter page. It’s not the first time that Ruddy has claimed to know what the president is thinking. In March, Fortune Magazine reported that Ruddy “says he hasn’t seen the President as angry as he was when he talked to him about Trump’s unsubstantiated and widely disputed allegations that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him during the 2016 election.
He wrote on the Newsmax website, “I spoke with the President twice yesterday about the wiretap story. I haven’t seen him this pissed off in a long time.”
Ruddy lives and runs his business in Palm Beach, not far from conservative commentators like Ann Coulter, with whom he spent a recent New Year’s, and Rush Limbaugh, according to Bloomberg.
4. It Was Ruddy Who Claimed Trump Might Fire Robert Mueller, Although There is No Confirmation of That Claim
According to CNN, Ruddy, “One of President Donald Trump’s friends said he believes the President is considering dismissing special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to lead the FBI investigation into Russia’s potential ties to the 2016 election.”
CNN quoted Ruddy as saying to host Chris Cuomo: “I think it is a consideration the President has had because Mueller is illegitimate as special counsel. Chris, remember there is no evidence of wrongdoing, there’s no evidence of collusion, there’s no evidence of obstruction.”
However, Trump does not have the authority to fire Mueller directly. The Attorney General does, but he’s stepped aside in the Russia probe. Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein assured Senators on June 13 that he would not fire Mueller without good cause and said Mueller is operating independently and that only Rosenstein has authority to fire him.
Newsmax, which is run by Ruddy, ran a story that says, “Ruddy: Trump Considering Firing Mueller, White House Doesn’t Deny Claim.” However, the story notes that Ruddy “did not claim to have spoken to the president about the matter” and “appeared to confirm comments made by Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow.”
Ruddy told PBS, “I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he’s weighing that option. I think it’s pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently.”
5. Ruddy’s Father Was a Police Officer & Ruddy Once Worked as a Public School Teacher
Ruddy told Forbes that his father was a police officer, and he was raised in a middle class family.
Despite the conservative bent of his media company, Bloomberg reported in 2014 that Ruddy was a registered Independent.
“Ruddy is registered as an Independent and is more moderate than the rhetoric typically espoused by his media properties. He has become friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton and won’t rule out supporting Hillary for president in 2016,” the site reported at that time.
According to Bloomberg, “Ruddy grew up on Long Island in Williston Park, N.Y., the 12th child of a police lieutenant and a homemaker. The family was Republican, Catholic but not regular churchgoers. Chris came of age during the Reagan Revolution.” Ruddy taught in public schools for a time, reports Bloomberg.