The New Conservative Media Establishment


Donald Trump has transformed conservative media as much as he has Republican politics. An establishment once the province of tweedy editorialists and the mannered heirs of William F. Buckley has been overthrown by a new set of brash characters, from name-brand provocateurs like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham to a younger generation making their mark in social media.

Politico director of photography M. Scott Mahaskey traveled the country to meet the leading figures of this new conservative establishment on their own turf, interviewing and spending time with them in the studio, at home and even on the gun range. They include fast-rising online stars like Ben Shapiro, the cerebral 34-year-old Daily Wire editor with a massively popular podcast, and Allie Stuckey, the self-styled “millennial conservative” with her own podcast and a slick web series to boot. Mahaskey also visited National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch on the gun range, where she fired rounds from an AR-15 and an American flag-emblazoned pistol.

It’s a boisterous and unapologetic bunch, mostly but not all pro-Trump. If they share one unifying trait, it’s their appetite for courting controversy and baiting liberals—one that connects viscerally to a wide swath of conservative Americans eager to see political correctness and the “mainstream media” taken down a peg or two. Tucker Carlson, who has remade himself from bowtie-wearing gadfly to something closer to Hannity’s pugilistic everyman, summed up the new political climate this way: “chaos, basically, that will sort itself out into a new order.” In the conservative media world, it already has.

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