Newsmax $50 Million Investment From Qatari Royals Came With Instructions: ‘Soften Its On-Air Coverage’ of U.S. Ally | Report

A member of the Qatari royal family invested roughly $50 million in conservative news site Newsmax while Donald Trump was in office, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing documents and representatives for the media company and the royal family.

At the time, Qatar — a key US ally in the Middle East — was targeted with a diplomatic and economic blockade led by Saudi Arabia and the Unied Arab Emirates, which accused the tiny country of supporting terrorist groups across the Middle East, the Post said.

“Qatar had counted on its relationship with the United States for protection, but President Donald Trump initially sided with its regional rivals,” the Post reported. Citing two Newsmax employees, the report said that before and after the investment, the outlet urged staff to “soften its on-air coverage of Qatar.”

“We were not allowed to criticize Qatar,” one of the staffers told The Post. “We were told very clearly from the top down, no touching this.”

Newsmax did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The reporting relied on documents from a trove of roughly 100,000 leaked files from Genesis Trust, a Cayman Islands-based financial services provider, which were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and reviewed by The Post.

The investment in Christopher Ruddy’s Newsmax, which was founded in 2014, came in 2019 and 2020. from Sheikh Sultan bin Jassim Al Thani, a former Qatari government official and the owner of a London-based investment fund, Heritage Advisors, the Post reported. A representative for Heritage said the money was put down because Al Thani saw potential for profit, and was not acting on behalf his government.

A spokesman for Ruddy denied to The Post that he ever told any staffers not to criticize Qatar, and claimed the outlet has published “numerous critical items” about the country.

But among the Genesis Trust documents are forms “that proposed the corporate structure would be ‘set up with the intention of benefiting the State of Qatar,'” The Post reported. Papers also designated Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani, the younger brother of the ruler of Qatar and vice chairman of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, as the “option beneficiary,” a term for a person who would take control of the structure under certain circumstances.

Sultan and Mohammed are both members of Qatar’s vast royal family.

The Heritage representative told the Post the structure never had that option beneficiary and was not set up with the goal of benefiting Qatar, claiming never to have seen the documents. Representatives of the entities involved also said that the forms contained an error made without Sultan’s knowledge and resulted from estate planning discussions about who would make decisions regarding investments in the event of Sultan’s death.

“We operate independently of any government and make investment decisions based exclusively on our goal of creating value,” a Heritage representative told The Post. “Where we invest in media, we have no editorial or management control. Any suggestion that our investments are driven by ulterior motives is simply false.”

Newsmax, which was vocal in support of Trump during his administration, is facing a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over its amplification of the former president’s lies over the results of the 2020 election. The suit is set to go to trial in late September.

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