Conservative Media Outlets Make All the Right Moves

Forget Fox News. Conservatives are launching a media-savvy revolution.


| September-October, 2009



Conservative Media Outlets

image by Dongyun Lee

Electoral defeat tends to spawn bouts of ideological tinkering. When the Democrats lost the presidential election in 2004, a clutch of books soon emerged, bristling with prescriptions for the ailing left. Last year’s resounding losses for the GOP, from John McCain to dogcatcher, have inspired a sim­ilar smattering of what-now books, though some on the right are rethinking conservative politics elsewhere—in the form of a handful of new online publications.

These new outlets, all of which have cropped up in the past year or so, are varied in their focus: Big Hollywood examines the nexus of politics and pop culture; the Next Right is a group blog that counsels Republicans on how to run modern campaigns; the New Majority is a magazine of ideas designed to lead conservatives out of the political wilderness; and until late January, when it folded after just five months, Culture11 housed narrative nonfiction and arts criticism.

So each has its niche, but the sites share certain important features: They are online-only, more engaged with popular culture than traditional conservative media, and, except for Big Hollywood, eager to challenge conservative orthodoxy whenever it’s necessary.

 

For roughly the past 25 years, conservative opinion journalism has generally followed Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. Liberal magazines, on the other hand, prized diversity of opinion, even contrarianism. The Nation, you may recall, invited Christopher Hitchens to endorse President Bush for reelection in its pages.

Conservative publications, both in print and online, have generally competed to be the farthest right and the most extreme in their denunciations of “liberal treason.” National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the American Spectator—the three most influential conservative print magazines (not counting more academic quarterlies such as Commentary and City Journal)—have consistently backed the policies of the Republican Party and its leaders in Congress and the White House, even when those leaders seemingly betrayed their principles. Those publications didn’t complain, for instance, when George W. Bush abandoned his campaign pledge to advance a “humble” foreign policy in order to launch the Iraq invasion. Conservative websites, such as Townhall.com and David Horowitz’s FrontPage, are even more strident. When National Review dropped Ann Coulter’s column after she wrote, “We should invade [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity,” FrontPage welcomed her.