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Billionaire businessman Joe Ricketts launching news outlet

Helen Coster
·2 min read

By Helen Coster

Jan 19 (Reuters) - Billionaire businessman and founder of TD Ameritrade Joe Ricketts is launching a new national outlet to deliver news “without opinion or bias,” a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The news of the venture was first reported by the Omaha World-Herald, which describes Joe Ricketts as a leading funder of national conservative causes. The Center for Responsive Politics has listed him as a Republican megadonor.

The news outlet, called Straight Arrow News, will be based in Omaha, Nebraska, and is expected to launch this year, according to the spokesperson.

“The name speaks to the company’s mission of being a trustworthy source of news and information – a straight arrow that hits the bullseye,” Joe Ricketts said through a spokesperson.

News of the launch comes as President Donald Trump has lost access to key media platforms, prompting speculation that he could launch his own media company or strike a deal or partnership with an existing player. Trump has been without a media platform since Twitter, Facebook and other tech companies banned him following the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riots at the U.S. Capitol.

The outgoing president has been critical of Rupert Murdoch's Fox Corp -owned Fox News cable channel and has promoted the two cable outlets to the right of Fox - Newsmax and One America News Network (OAN) - helping them grow.

Investment firm Hicks Equity Partners had plans to pitch Todd Ricketts, Joe Ricketts’ son and the Republican National Committee finance chairman, to join its venture to acquire OAN from its current owners, according to a Wall Street Journal January 2020 report that cited a person familiar with the matter.

The elder Ricketts has previous experience in media. He was the founder and chief executive officer of DNAinfo, a news website focused on local news in New York City and Chicago. He eventually shut down the venture when employees voted to form a union.

In an earlier blog post, Joe Ricketts had written that: “It is my observation that unions exert efforts that tend to destroy the Free Enterprise system.”

In an Oct. 23, 2020 post Joe Ricketts congratulated his son Todd after The New Yorker magazine profiled him and his work for Trump. "Todd joins other conservative leaders who The New Yorker has attacked because they promote different values than the magazine or support political candidates the magazine doesn’t like,” Ricketts wrote. (Reporting by Helen Coster; Editing by Aurora Ellis)