Newsmax anchor Rob Finnerty joked about a ceasefire in Ukraine as an April Fools’ joke.
Finnerty interrupted his show with the false breaking news that “Russia has apparently surrendered.”
CEO Chris Ruddy was “furious” at the joke, sources told The Daily Beast.
Employees at the conservative news network Newsmax are upset at anchor Rob Finnerty after he falsely reported on air that Russia surrendered to Ukraine as part of an April Fools’ Day prank, multiple sources told The Daily Beast.
Finnerty made the remark on an episode of the morning show “Wake up America” that aired April 1. He was playing along with the other host and guests as they quipped about April Fools’ pranks when he grabbed a mock earpiece as the words “Breaking News” flashed on the screen.
He then falsely claimed that “Russia has apparently surrendered” and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin had reached a tentative ceasefire agreement.
Finnerty asked Mark Halperin, one of the show’s guests, for his thoughts. Halperin began to respond, apparently unaware it was untrue, until Finnerty quickly interrupted him to gleefully say that the whole thing was a prank and mock the others for falling for it.
Halperin replied: “Rob, you know why I fell for it? I had more confidence that you wouldn’t abuse the Newsmax name by pretending something so serious and so real. I had too much faith in you.”
Sources told The Daily Beast that executives like CEO Chris Ruddy are “furious” at a joke being made about an ongoing conflict that has included possible war crimes and taken thousands of lives since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
“How anyone would think that was remotely acceptable is beyond me,” one Newsmax staffer told The Daily Beast.
Other employees told the outlet that staff in the control room were unaware of the material that Finnerty would use for the prank, but that he instructed them to have the “Breaking News” chyron ready.
Newsmax did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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