February 01, 2022

These Local News Stars Bounced From Scandal to the Newsmax Anchor Desk - The Daily Beast

Towards the end of 2021, pro-Trump cable network Newsmax looked as if it was trying to pivot to some vague semblance of journalistic credibility.

After hiring two veteran producers to reshape the channel’s news division and bringing on longtime Fox News correspondent James Rosen, the channel dumped conspiracy-peddling personalities like reporter Emerald Robinson (she of “the vaccines are actually a Satanic tracking device” infamy) and former Trump adviser Steve Cortes, now an aggressively anti-vaccine, election-denying pundit.

With its two most recent additions, however, the fledgling network once again appears to be courting controversy. This time, giving prominent roles to two local news stars who’d lost their jobs amid scandal.

Bianca de la Garza, a former Boston news anchor who gained notoriety for being a central figure in a high-profile embezzlement case, is now a co-host of one of the network’s weekday afternoon broadcasts. And despite a history of racially inflammatory and anti-vaccine rhetoric, former Pittsburgh news anchor Wendy Bell debuted her own Newsmax show this past weekend.

The news of the two scandal-tainted personalities joining Newsmax left some network insiders scratching their heads. “The place is just weird,” one staffer remarked to The Daily Beast, while another joked that Newsmax may as well next hire Lara Logan—who was ghosted by Fox News for comparing Dr. Anthony Fauci to a Nazi war criminal. The network did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

At one time, de la Garza was a fairly popular media figure in the New England area. Starting in 2007, she served as both the morning anchor and noon host for Boston’s ABC affiliate WCVB-TV and had risen to become something of a local TV star, with her work occasionally being featured on the national network.

Eventually, she ended up leaving the local outlet in 2014 to start her own company, Lucky Gal Productions, producing and hosting her own late-night show that aired across New England. Bianca Unanchored debuted in early 2015 and enjoyed some early local ratings success, but only lasted less than a year. From there, she launched a now-defunct cosmetics line, another short-lived program, and other myriad business ventures.

What was unknown until late 2019, though, was that de la Garza’s lifestyle and production company were financed by millions worth of embezzled funds.

Richard Hajjar, then the chief financial officer of Alden Shoe Company, first met de la Garza in 2012...

Read Full Story: https://www.thedailybeast.com/bianca-de-la-garza-and-wendy-bell-bounced-from-scandal-to-the-newsmax-anchor-desk

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