Former Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes has reportedly lost his job at the right-wing Newsmax TV network after clashing with management over the company’s coronavirus vaccination-or-testing policy.
The ex-bond trader, who for the past six months has hosted a nightly programme alongside former One America News correspondent Jennifer Pellegrino, is set to make his last broadcast early next week, theDaily Beast reported on Friday.
Mr Cortes has in recent days vocally opposed his employer’s decision to require workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or submit to weekly testing in lieu of vaccination. Earlier this month, he lashed out against the policy — which is identical to the Biden administration vaccination mandate the Labour Department is attempting to impose on companies with 100+ workers — in a tweet.
“I will not comply w/ any organization’s attempt to enforce Biden’s capricious & unscientific Medical Apartheid mandate,” he wrote. “I will not be forced into the injection, nor will I disclose my vaccination status. No one should be pressured to choose between medical privacy & their job”.
Shortly after the Daily Beast published its report, Mr Cortes doubled down in another tweet in which he simply wrote: “Do Not Comply!”
One source who spoke to the outlet said Newsmax management was also tired of Mr Cortes’ inflammatory rhetoric, which has forced his show to be broadcast with a delay to give network bosses a chance to censor potentially problematic utterances.
“It’s been ongoing for a while,” one Newsmax staffer reportedly said, adding later the Mr Cortes’ show is broadcast with a delay because his employer “can’t trust him”.
While many prominent figures at pro-Trump media outlets have made opposition to Covid-19 vaccines into a way for conservatives to express opposition to the Biden administration, Mr Cortes’ employer has taken to cracking down on personnel who spout anti-vaccine rhetoric.
Earlier this month, the network pulled White House correspondent Emerald Robinson off the air after she claimed that Covid-19 vaccines contain an ingredient that will cause recipients to become luminescent — and suggested that ingredient (which is not actually in the vaccines) could be the biblical Mark of the Beast.
Newsmax’s founder and chief executive, Christopher Ruddy, has previously praised the Biden administration’s efforts to encourage vaccination against Covid-19.
In July, Mr Ruddy — a prominent supporter of former president Donald Trump — penned an op-ed for the Newsmax website in which he wrote that Mr Biden had done a “good job” and the “right thing” by pushing hard on the vaccine rollout.
Mr Cortes did not respond to an email from The Independent seeking comment, but a spokesperson for the network said in an emailed statement that “any suggestion” that a dispute over vaccine issues led to his departure is “completely false”.
“Newsmax never has had, nor does it ever plan to have, a vaccine mandate and we have taken every step to make sure staff can easily opt-out of Biden’s proposed OSHA requirements,” the spokesperson said.
This article was amended on 29 November 2021 to include comments from Newsmax