More On The State Of Conservative Media

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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My latest column for The Week deals with the state of conservative media. It’s a fascinating topic, and I hope I did it justice. Of course, since it’s something I’m intimately involved with, there were many things that interest me, but did not make it into the final product. This was not meant to be an exhaustive list of center-right media outlets or personalities, but I do want to take a minute to acknowledge a few additional things…

First, while I do mention Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and the Drudge Report, in passing, it would be hard to overstate the impact they have had on the changing media environment. Additionally, while I mention HotAir, they probably deserve even more attention (this is a site that is important for a variety or reasons, including the tremendous traffic they earn and drive — and their relevance in terms of helping drive the debate and discussion).

That there are too many important players to mention in any given column is a good thing. As I’ve noted before, Charles Krauthammer is arguably the most important conservative columnist in America, but you wouldn’t know that by reading this piece; I mentioned Rush, but there are numerous successful and important talk radio hosts, including folks like Hugh Hewitt and Laura Ingraham — just to name a couple.  CNS News is constantly breaking original news (and is often rewarded with a Drudge link), Instapundit drives a ton of traffic (and conversation), and the American Conservative (TAC) has seized the zeitgeist, providing an outlet for conservatives opposed to the dominant neoconservative paradigm … I could go on…

There are also questions regarding classification. The Wall Street Journal probably fits in the center-right rubric, but it’s easy to take them for granted (and what could I say about them that you don’t know?). And what about RealClearPolitics? This is an incredibly important site, and I suppose they probably are nominally conservative-leaning. I think. Assuming they are, the very fact that they’re so successful — and that I’m not sure where they fit in — is a testament to their success — proof that they have arrived — that they’re not going to be victims of the ghettoization that plagues too many conservative outlets.)

Arguably, my most glaring omission was that of The Blaze. This brings up another topic that is worthy of its own column. There is a subtle, but fundamental, tension on the right as to whether or not it is wiser to exist within the dominant media paradigm, or eschew it altogether, and create something new.

For the most part, my column focuses on outlets and people in the former camp. But Glenn Beck and The Blaze, I think, are attempting the latter — they are trying to create a parallel media empire.

Technology now allows entrepreneurs like Beck (and Howard Stern, and others) to own the means of production, and to charge members to be a part of this community. For now, at least, this has proven to be highly profitable, even if it makes these entrepreneurs arguably less relevant to the mainstream culture.

But it is entirely possible that they are the pioneers, ahead of the curve in reimagining the future of media. And, assuming the trend toward the splintering of the media, more niche outlets, streaming video, and à la carte content, continues, they just might be making a smart bet.

UPDATE: Another obvious omission was the Washington Examiner. This outlet combines original reporting, analysis, and opinion with a “Murderers’ Row” of center-right journalists.