Conservative media deserves our suspicion, as well

Does the new conservative news model have a liberal core?

Most of us accept that objectivity is impossible. The best we can do is canvass multiple sources to figure out what is happening. When conservative news outlets move toward leftism or globalism, it’s like having one eye suddenly closed. When the rest of the media is sold out to liberalism, you’re not seeing much effectively.

It’s what has made emerging, independent news outlets so valuable. The Daily Wire and The Blaze are online-based news networks filling a void left by establishment media. They’re hardly the blogger-in-the-basement the establishment media warned us about. The Daily Wire and The Blaze each have a stable of talented columnists and commentators. They produce news and opinion through the web, podcasts, videos, and even feature films and documentaries.

The Daily Wire … has a goal of replacing establishment media with reliably conservative viewpoints.

The Daily Wire is especially ambitious. It has a goal of replacing establishment media with reliably conservative viewpoints. It’s exactly what disaffected conservatives have wanted to hear. In response, over a million subscribers are paying a monthly fee to access its content.

In this tweet, commentator Matt Walsh lists the network’s recent accomplishments for conservative causes. The track record is impressive.

So what’s the problem? Listening to the persuasive commentators at The Daily Wire, the only issue is gaining new subscribers. Their plan to affect the culture of conservatism is going well.

However, a crack in the foundation of The Daily Wire may have been exposed. It has called into question the company’s business model. The Daily Wire has enjoyed much success since its founding in 2015. Allegations have elicited a gobsmacked attitude from the media outlet. The conflict of interest charge has been received with defensiveness, even anger. Many viewed the culture of The Daily Wire as staid, almost banker-like. Now, the company exudes the righteous passion of college students.

Oddly, The Daily Wire has responded as if there’s an existential threat to its existence.

For those who haven’t followed the story, another conservative media personality, Steven Crowder, recently shared a talent contract from an unnamed media outlet. Crowder was leaving his deal with The Blaze. It had produced his daily video show. Crowder was now looking for a new home. The reason Crowder shared the contract was to warn other creators of the predatory nature of the conservative independent news business. To Crowder, this unnamed company had built its formula of success by kowtowing to big tech media.

As almost every conservative is aware, big tech media is among the most radically liberal entities in the world.

As almost every conservative is aware, big tech media is among the most radically liberal entities in the world. Elon Musk has outed big tech as having censored Americans at the request of the US Government. Big tech has been shown to have influenced the prior two US elections in major ways. These include targeting opposition accounts for suspension, censorship, and shadow-banning. When Steven Crowder asserted that an unnamed conservative media company was “in bed” with big tech, it brought into question every aspect of this company’s credibility.

Very quickly, the head of The Daily Wire acknowledged the contract was theirs. Steven Crowder didn’t name the company. The Daily Wire volunteered this information. Its aim was to defend its business practices from any hint of impropriety. The Daily Wire founder Jeremy Boreing published a lengthy video where he explained why his business was not “in bed” with big tech. He shifted the blame back onto Steven Crowder, who now looked greedy.

It may have ended there. A day later, Steven Crowder played an audio recording of his last phone call with Jeremy Boreing. In the recording, Boreing sounds candidly ruthless in discussing his business methods. There is nothing illegal in the way The Daily Wire operates. And yet, Crowder was able to show the standard contract The Daily Wire uses is purposely restrictive, even controlling, in its stipulations of the conservative talent it hires.

For Crowder, The Daily Wire contract was an abandonment of conservative principles.

For Crowder, The Daily Wire contract was an abandonment of conservative principles. Ardent conservatives could see his point. The philosophy is based on limited forms of power. The contract that Boreing gave Crowder was meant to turn a new hire into a temporary “wage slave,” Boreing’s exact words on the call. He believed Crowder should use the contract as a basis for negotiation. Crowder had already lost faith in Boreing.

Many onlookers saw the ensuing public spat between Crowder and The Daily Wire as misplaced. It’s a contract dispute, they said. It’s none of anyone’s business. Crowder is looking for attention. He wants clicks and sign-ups for his next venture.

And yet, for those who saw beyond the personality dispute, Crowder had brought a serious issue to light. The contract from The Daily Wire was heavily weighted toward appeasing big tech. An on-air talent was expected to keep big tech from striking the channel and to keep from getting bans and advertiser boycotts.

Arguments aside, the basis of a salary at The Daily Wire was playing ball with big tech.

For Jeremy Boreing, it was all semantics. If you lost ad dollars, you didn’t make as much money. Why wouldn’t you be penalized? Crowder didn’t believe this was a sustainable way to work. Bans, strikes, and boycotts are out of a talent’s control. In fact, if you were a conservative commentator, you expected to face one or more of these punishments from big tech. It meant you were pushing against an establishment narrative, doing your job.

Questions have been raised about how The Daily Wire operates as a conservative news organization within big tech.

Needless to say, Steven Crowder and The Daily Wire won’t work together. And yet, the consequences of Crowder’s contract revelations won’t go away. Questions have been raised about how The Daily Wire operates as a conservative news organization within big tech. How does talent at The Daily Wire keep from getting banned? What, if anything, are they doing to appease a punitive algorithm that often demonetized conservative voices?

Some believe The Daily Wire brain trust works hard to keep on the good side of big tech. It could mean topics are screened in advance to prevent demonetization. It could mean topics are avoided altogether. It was brought up that editor emeritus Ben Shapiro has dined with Mark Zuckerberg. It may be nothing or a sign The Daily Wire aims to work amicably with Facebook despite the editorial consequences or at least outward appearances.

The Daily Wire hotly denied this conjecture. It’s also unproven. And yet, for observers, a soft kind of collusion with big tech explained the absence of some controversial stories. For example, The Daily Wire did not cover the story of election irregularities in 2020. Later, Dinesh D’Souza released a documentary, 2000 Mules. It’s an edgy, well-researched independent movie, the kind The Daily Wire produces. Editor emeritus Ben Shapiro panned 2000 Mules with a skepticism that bordered on incredulity. The Daily Wire wouldn’t tackle election integrity.

…for observers, a soft kind of collusion with big tech explained the absence of some controversial stories.

It’s all the more curious after the aggressive, in-depth reporting The Daily Wire has conducted on the transgender issue. Many fans of The Daily Wire point to Matt Walsh and his risky coverage of this topic. And yet, if twenty-five percent of that energy were put toward verifying election integrity, one wonders where the country, let alone the Republican party, would be.

Anyone with a driver’s license can tell you election integrity is a disapproved topic with big tech. The Daily Wire didn’t cover it. No channels have been famously struck or boycotted.

Another topic was vaccine hesitancy and potential side effects. The Daily Wire covered this story from a certain angle. Ben Shapiro was candidly pro-vaccine. Many opinion leaders were in 2020. The Daily Wire was also aggressive in fighting the vaccine mandates. It even went to court to ask the mandate be lifted for companies with over 100 employees.

Undeniably, it’s a laudable conservative action. A critic might ask, where were the stories on the vaccine’s safety when many were being censored? Where was true conservative journalism? Today, The Daily Wire freely covers stories of a heightened risk of myocarditis. It’s safe to publish these stories. They’ve been deemed acceptable, perhaps unavoidable.

At times, the editorial stance of The Daily Wire has dovetailed nicely with the understood mandates of big tech. It could all be a coincidence. It’s possible The Daily Wire brain trust honestly believes the 2020 election was not affected by rule changes and an expansion of mail-in ballots, and, subsequently, a candidate who rarely campaigned received 81 million votes. Perhaps it dismissed vaccine side effects as overblown after sound, editorial due diligence. As always, it’s up to the viewer to decide.

At times, the editorial stance of The Daily Wire has dovetailed nicely with the understood mandates of big tech.

It isn’t a question of whether Ben Shapiro is looking into the camera and lying. The deceptions within conservatism are more subtle. It’s how someone rationalizes what’s important. For The Daily Wire, continuing its existence as a profit-rich entity may be deemed as essential, or even more so, as any particular story. It would become a question of self-preservation over self-censorship. Jean Valjean stole bread to feed his sister. He was among the most virtuous characters in literary history. You do what is necessary to live another day.

Could a media outlet that is effectively conservative stay on the right side of big tech without being “in bed?” It’s possible. The purpose of a news-gathering organization is to dispel doubt, even about itself. Until we’re sure our news isn’t being filtered through the big tech algorithm, we’re wise to remain skeptical.

Eugene Havens

Eugene is a writer working on books and websites. Check out Eugene's novel here.

1 thought on “Conservative media deserves our suspicion, as well”

  1. Well balanced and fair look at this controversy. Thanks for sharing. I’m a fan of both and see both sides, but many of us see big tech as the greater threat. This should give us pause.

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