Newsmax woos Fox Information viewers with refusal to vote.

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For years, Newsmax was a small player in the right-wing media universe. The 22-year-old news agency was small compared to conservative media juggernauts like Fox News and Breitbart, with a modestly popular website and an under-regarded TV station with shows featuring Republican B-listeners like Diamond & Silk and Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary.

That changed after the election last week, however, when Newsmax refused to hold the election in Mr Biden's favor. Newsmax doesn't have a decision switch, so its rejection was mostly a symbolic protest. Even so, it gave a boost to Trump supporters who opposed the loss of the president and prompted Mr. Trump and his allies to consider the outlet a friendly venue. Since then, Newsmax TV has promoted a parade of conspiracy theories and false allegations of electoral fraud and has specifically refused to designate Mr Biden as President-elect.

The alternative reality strategy works and makes Newsmax a legitimate contender for conservative eyeballs in the post-Trump era. According to Nielsen, Newsmax TV receives the highest ratings this week. Up to 800,000 people watch the programs in prime time. (Prior to the election, the average was only 65,000 viewers at any given time, according to CNN's Brian Stelter.) Mr Trump angrily shared Newsmax clips and retweeted supporters who say they are frustrated with Fox News.

"He is very disappointed with Fox News," said Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax and friend of Mr. Trump, in a CNN interview on Sunday. Citing higher ratings since the election, Mr. Ruddy claimed Newsmax was now "a major player in cable news".

Mr. Trump's defeat is paying off online too. The Newsmax app was the fourth most popular app in the Apple App Store on Thursday, ahead of TikTok and Instagram. According to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned analytics tool, it beat both Fox News and Breitbart on Facebook engagement for the first time on Tuesday. And its YouTube channel has more than doubled its following since the election, and now has more than a million subscribers.

Newsmax is still considerably smaller than Fox News. But his willingness to indulge in fringe conspiracy theories and defend Mr. Trump on rebutted allegations of electoral fraud has thrilled the Trump grassroots and sparked speculation that Mr. Trump might use it as a template for his own media company after the presidency.

Election officials across the country have said there is no evidence of widespread election fraud, and many Republican legal challenges have been dismissed in state courts. But on Newsmax TV, the hosts encouraged Mr. Trump not to concede defeat and said there was still a chance he could be crowned the winner.

"They're digging in their heels and fighting," said Carl Higbie, a Newsmax host, in a video that has been viewed more than 19 million times on Facebook.