Carmel High School graduate makes mark as Newsmax host


Rob Schmitt figured he picked the right time to switch networks.

The 2001 Carmel High School graduate left Fox News in August 2020, and then his show “Rob Schmitt Tonight” premiered on Newsmax in December 2020. The hourlong show airs live weeknights at 10 p.m. When he left Fox, Schmitt was co-anchor of “Fox & Friends First.”

CIC COM 0517 Rob Schmitt headshot

“They were showing signs of growth,” Schmitt said of Newsmax. “Right after I showed up, we had the election and that’s when Newsmax exploded because a lot of people soured on Fox for six months. Some have obviously gone back to Fox, but it’s given us a quick name in a very competitive business. Our audience probably grew five or 10 times over, really fast. Then we fell back to reality a little bit. But we are at areas of projections they didn’t think we would get to until 2023.”

Foremost, Schmitt said he liked the idea of having his own show and getting off a 4 a.m. show like “Fox & Friends First” helped, too.

“It’s nice not having to get up at one o’clock in the morning,” he said. “I am able to do the content that I find interesting and I find engaging. It’s nice to have that kind of authority over what we do and what we cover. Being able to handle the way you want to handle it is a luxury in this business after working in a lot of regular straight news networks.”

Schmitt said he didn’t agree with a lot of things that were happening in local news.

“When I went to Fox, it alleviated some of that,” he said. “But now it’s better to have full autonomy.”

Schmitt said having a couple of interviews with former President Donald Trump have been highlights of his show.

“It’s just been growing the show and making something at a network that is still trying to find its footing,” Schmitt said. “It’s fun to watch something really grow and watch a company grow. When I started, it (was) just dramatically different than it is today. We’ve doubled our staffing.”

Schmitt said Fox was a profit and revenue machine.

“It was easy to get lost in there,” he said. “Everywhere you look, there were more producers and more writers. It was a massive staff of people. We have a lot of people at Newsmax (who previously worked) at Fox, and they compare it to the way Fox was in the early 2000s. A lot will complain Fox has become far too corporate now and has an increasingly liberal agenda. (Fox officials) think they have the right, and they do, to try to get the middle, and the Democrats, too. A lot of conservatives wonder what the direction is.”

Schmitt said Fox prime time is still very conservative with shows featuring Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.

“Our ratings are about half of what CNN is pulling in, and we’re only in about two-thirds as many homes as CNN is in,” Schmitt said.

Newsmax launched in 2014.

After graduating from Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Schmitt worked for an ABC affiliate in Redding, Calif. for two years. He then spent three years working at an ABC affiliate in Miami, followed by two years working for a CBS affiliate in Los Angeles for two years. He then had a three-year stint at NBC in New York. Schmitt then joined Fox News in 2016 where he served as co-host on “Fox Nation” and then became a co-anchor on “Fox & Friends First.”

“So, it’s been a lot of bouncing around over 16 years,” Schmitt said.