The Daily Caller
The Daily Caller is a right-wing news and opinion website based in Washington, D.C. It was founded by now Fox News host Tucker Carlson and political pundit Neil Patel in 2010. Launched as a "conservative answer to The Huffington Post", The Daily Caller quadrupled its audience and became profitable by 2012, surpassing several rival websites by 2013. The Daily Caller is a member of the White House press pool.
Type of site
|Founded||January 11, 2010|
|Headquarters||1920 L Street NW Floor 2, Washington, D.C. 20036|
|Owner||The Daily Caller, Inc.|
|Key people||Neil Patel (Publisher) |
Geoff Ingersoll (Editor-in-Chief)
Vince Coglianese (Editorial Director)
|Registration||Optional, required to comment|
|Launched||January 11, 2010|
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The Daily Caller has frequently published false stories. The website publishes articles that dispute the scientific consensus on climate change. The website has published articles by white supremacists such as Jason Kessler and Peter Brimelow. Scott Greer was deputy editor at The Daily Caller. After his departure in June 2018, it was revealed that he published articles espousing white nationalist, racist anti-black and antisemitic views under a pseudonym in white supremacist publications.
In June 2020, Carlson left the site. Patel confirmed that he had bought out Carlson's stake and brought in a new partner, a Muslim American Democrat. The Daily Caller became a minority-owned and -run company thereafter.
The Daily Caller was founded by Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel. After raising $3 million in funding from businessman Foster Friess, the website was launched on January 11, 2010. The organization began with a reporting staff of 21 in its Washington office. It was launched as a "conservative answer to The Huffington Post", similarly featuring sections in broad range of subjects beyond politics. When The Daily Caller launched in 2010, it became the third Washington DC based news site besides Talking Points Memo and Politico.
In a 2010 interview with the Columbia Journalism Review, Tucker Carlson described The Daily Caller's prospective audience as "[p]eople who are distrustful of conventional news organizations." Carlson said "the coverage of the Tea Party blows me away by its stupidity. The assumption of almost everyone I know who covers politics for the networks or daily newspapers is: they're all birthers, they're all crazy, they're upset about fluoride in the water, probably racist. And those assumptions have prevented good journalism from taking place."
By late 2012, The New York Times reported that the site had quadrupled its page view and total audience and had become profitable without ever buying an advertisement for itself. By 2013, the site was receiving over 35 million views a month according to Quantcast, surpassing rival sites such as The Washington Times, Politico, and Forbes. The site has an active community, with over 200,000 comments made each month.
According to the 2018 book Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics, written by Harvard University scholars Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris and Hal Roberts, The Daily Caller fails to follow journalistic norms in its reporting.
Vince Coglianese replaced Carlson as editor-in-chief in 2016 when the Tucker Carlson Tonight show started up on Fox. Carlson departed the site in June 2020 to increase his focus on his new show. Karl Rove has said that "The Daily Caller is necessary reading for anyone who wants to be up to speed with what's going on with politics in America." Larry Kudlow referred to the site as "one of [his] faves." Fact-checkers have frequently debunked Daily Caller stories.
In 2017, the Daily Caller launched its fact-checking news site CheckYourFact.com. In 2018, the site was approved by Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) and became a fact-checking partner of Facebook in 2019.
Misleading video about NPR
In 2011, The Daily Caller was the first news outlet to disseminate a video by conservative provocateur James O'Keefe which purportedly showed an NPR fundraiser deriding Republicans. The video was later proven to have been misleadingly edited.
"Investigative series" about Media Matters
In February 2012, The Daily Caller published an "investigative series" of articles co-authored by Carlson, purporting to be an insiders' exposé of Media Matters for America (MMfA), a liberal watchdog group that monitors and scrutinizes conservative media outlets, and its founder David Brock. Citing "current and former" MMfA employees, "friends" of Brock's and a "prominent liberal" — none of whom are named — the article characterized MMfA as having "an atmosphere of tension and paranoia" and portraying Brock as "erratic, unstable and disturbing," who "struggles with mental illness," in fear of "right-wing assassins," a regular cocaine user and would "close [local bars] and party till six in the morning." Reuters media critic and libertarian Jack Shafer sharply criticized The Daily Caller piece as "anonymously sourced crap," adding "Daily Caller is attacking Media Matters with bad journalism and lame propaganda". Shafer said that he had "never thought much of Media Matters' style of watchdogging or Brock's journalism".
Heckling of Obama
In 2012, Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro interrupted President Barack Obama during one of his press conferences, while Obama was giving remarks. Obama said, "The next time I prefer you let me finish my statements before you ask a question." Cutting off Munro's reply, Obama said, "I didn't ask for an argument." Munro's interruption of remarks by the president was widely considered a startling breach of etiquette. Editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson defended Munro's heckling, saying "As a general matter, reporters are there to ask [questions]" and that he was "proud" of Munro.
Munro later said in a statement that his intention was to ask questions after the president made his remarks, but he claimed to have misjudged when the president was closing. "I timed the question believing the president was closing his remarks, because naturally I have no intention of interrupting the President of the United States. I know he rarely takes questions before walking away from the podium. When I asked the question as he finished his speech, he turned his back on the many reporters, and walked away while I and at least one other reporter asked questions."
False prostitution allegations
In November 2012, The Daily Caller posted interviews with two women claiming that New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez had paid them for sex while he was a guest of a campaign donor. The allegation came five days before the 2012 New Jersey senate election. News organizations such as ABC News, which had also interviewed the women, The New York Times, and the New York Post declined to publish the allegations, viewing them as unsubstantiated and lacking credibility. Subsequently, one of the women who accused Menendez stated that she had been paid to falsely implicate the senator and had never met him. Menendez's office described the allegations as "manufactured" by a right-wing blog as a politically motivated smear.
A few weeks later, police in the Dominican Republic announced that three women had claimed they were paid $300–425 each to lie about having had sex with Menendez. Dominican law enforcement also alleged that the women had been paid to lie about Menendez by an individual claiming to work for The Daily Caller. The website denied this allegation, stating: "At no point did any money change hands between The Daily Caller and any sources or individuals connected with this investigation". Describing what it saw as the unraveling of The Daily Caller' "scoop", the Poynter Institute wrote: "The Daily Caller stands by its reports, though apparently doesn't feel the need to prove its allegations right".
Fox News controversy
In March 2015, The Daily Caller columnist Mickey Kaus quit after editor Tucker Carlson refused to run a column critical of Fox News coverage of the immigration policy debate. Carlson, who works for Fox News, reportedly did not want The Daily Caller publishing criticism of a firm that employed him.
2016 presidential election
According to a study by Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, The Daily Caller was among the most popular sites on the right during the 2016 presidential election. The study also found that The Daily Caller provided "amplification and legitimation" for "the most extreme conspiracy sites", such as Truthfeed, InfoWars, The Gateway Pundit and Conservative Treehouse during the 2016 presidential election. The Daily Caller also "employed anti-immigrant narratives that echoed sentiments from the alt-right and white nationalists but without the explicitly racist and pro-segregation language."
In one of its most frequently shared stories, The Daily Caller falsely asserted that Morocco's King Mohammed VI flew Bill Clinton on a private jet, and that this had been omitted from the Clinton Foundation's tax disclosures. The Daily Caller also made the "utterly unsubstantiated and unsourced claim" that Hillary Clinton instructed Environmental Protection Agency "head Lisa Jackson to try to shut down Mosaic Fertilizer, described as America's largest phosphate mining company, in exchange for a $15 million donation to the Clinton Foundation from King Mohammed VI of Morocco, ostensibly to benefit Morocco's state-owned phosphate company."
Encouragement of violence against protesters
In January 2017, The Daily Caller posted a video which encouraged violence against protesters. The footage showed a car plowing through demonstrators, with the headline "Here's A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road". The video clip was set to a cover of Ludacris' "Move Bitch." This Daily Caller stub drew attention in August 2017 when a white supremacist plowed his car through a group of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. After the video attracted attention, The Daily Caller deleted it from its website.
The Daily Caller was the first news outlet to report on Stefan Halper, a confidential FBI source, and his interactions with Trump campaign advisors Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about campaign matters. Page became the subject of surveillance warrants issued by the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court regarding contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Other news outlets confirmed Halper's identity but did not report his identity because US intelligence officials warned that it would endanger him and his contacts.
Alleged Chinese email hacking
In August 2018, The Daily Caller ran a story alleging that a Chinese-owned company hacked then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email server and successfully obtained nearly all of her emails. The Daily Caller cited “two sources briefed on the matter.” After publishing the story, President Trump tweeted the allegations made in The Daily Caller's unsubstantiated reporting. The FBI said any evidence was absent.
The Daily Caller pushed conspiracy theories about Imran Awan, an IT worker for Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Daily Caller sought to tie Awan to many alleged criminal activities, including unauthorized access to government servers. The reporter behind the coverage of Awan told Fox News that the affair was "straight out of James Bond." An 18-month investigation by federal prosecutors found no evidence of wrongdoing in Awan's work in the House and no support for the conspiracy theories about Awan. In the announcement of the conclusion of the investigation, investigators rebuked a litany of right-wing conspiracy theories about Awan.
In January 2019, The Daily Caller published a story with the misleading headline "Here's The Photo Some Described As A Nude Selfie Of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez." The photo was not of Ocasio-Cortez. Ocasio-Cortez condemned The Daily Caller's action as "completely disgusting behavior." The Daily Caller apologized for the headline, and changed it. The Daily Caller said that the content of the story was not unlike stories published by Vice and The Huffington Post. Vice had published an article debunking that the photo belonged to Ocasio-Cortez.
Derek Hunter resignation
In June 2020, attorneys for the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates secretly paid writers to promote AML Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency endorsed by Abramoff. The description of one article alleged to be part of the scheme matched a piece by Derek Hunter, a writer and podcast host for The Daily Caller. Hunter resigned from The Daily Caller while denying that he had been paid illicitly for any articles.
Threatened lawsuit against Louisville Metro Police Department
During The Daily Caller's coverage of protests in Louisville, Kentucky related to the shooting of Breonna Taylor and subsequent verdict on the police involved, two of their reporters were arrested, prompting co-founder Patel to threaten a lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Staff, contributors and organization
Contributors to The Daily Caller have included economist Larry Kudlow, Congressman Mark Sanford, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former US Senate Candidate and Judge Jeanine Pirro, sculptor Robert Mihaly, diplomat Alan Keyes, Ann Coulter, and the NRA-ILA.
The Daily Caller hosts The Mirror, a blog written by former FishbowlDC editor and The Hill columnist Betsy Rothstein. The Mirror covers media in Washington D.C., news related to journalism organizations, as well as political and media related gossip. The tagline is, "Reflections of a self-obsessed city."
Allegation of non-profit abuse
According to Callum Borchers of The Washington Post, The Daily Caller has "a peculiar business structure that enables it to increase revenue while reducing its tax obligation." The organization, a for-profit company, does this by relying on its charity arm, The Daily Caller News Foundation, to create the majority of its news content.
Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy argues, "It's a huge rip-off for taxpayers if The Daily Caller News Foundation is receiving revenue that it doesn't pay taxes on, to produce stories that are used by the for-profit enterprise, which then makes money on the stories through ads." Benjamin M. Leff of American University writes, "But the fact that it also provides its content to other publishers for free is evidence that it is not operated for the private benefit of the for-profit, even if the for-profit is the dominant user of its content."
When it first launched in January 2010, Mercedes Bunz, writing for The Guardian, said The Daily Caller was "setting itself up to be the conservative answer to The Huffington Post". According to Bunz, a year before the website launched, Carlson promoted it as "a new political website leaning more to the right than Politico and TalkingPointsMemo". However, at launch, he wrote a letter to readers that said it was not going to be a right-wing site. "We're not going to suck up to people in power, the way so many have," Carlson declared.
During a January 2010 interview with Politico, Carlson said The Daily Caller was not going to be tied to his personal political ideologies and that he wanted it to be "breaking stories of importance". In a Washington Post article about The Daily Caller's launch, Howard Kurtz wrote, "[Carlson's] partner is Neil Patel, a former Dick Cheney aide. His opinion editor is Moira Bagley, who spent 2008 as the Republican National Committee's press secretary. And his $3 million in funding comes from Wyoming financier Foster Friess, a big-time GOP donor. But Carlson insists this won't be a right-wing site". Kurtz quoted Carlson as saying, "We're not enforcing any kind of ideological orthodoxy on anyone". In an interview with The New York Times, Carlson said that the vast majority of traditional reporting comes from a liberal point of view and called The Daily Caller's reporting "the balance against the rest of the conventional press".
In a 2012 Washingtonian article, Tom Bartlett said Carlson and Patel developed The Daily Caller as "a conservative news site in the mold of the liberal Huffington Post but with more firearms coverage and fewer nipple-slip slide shows".
In 2019, the Columbia Journalism Review described The Daily Caller as "right wing," a description also used by Business Insider, Snopes, and Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. According to The Guardian in April 2019, The Daily Caller is known for its pro-Trump content. A 2021 Politico article described The Daily Caller as being "mainstream right" in its positioning, as opposed to more "conspiratorial fringe" outlets such as One America News Network.
Climate change denial
The Daily Caller has published articles that dispute the scientific consensus on climate change. According to Science magazine, The Daily Caller's "climate reporting focuses on doubt and highlights data that suggests climate concerns from the world’s leading science agencies and organizations are incorrect."
In 2017, The Daily Caller published a story falsely claiming that a "peer-reviewed study" by "two scientists and a veteran statistician" found that recent years have not been the warmest ever. The alleged "study" was a PDF file on a WordPress blog, and was neither peer-reviewed nor published in a scientific journal. Also in 2017, The Daily Caller uncritically published a bogus Daily Mail story which claimed that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) manipulated data to make climate change appear worse; at the same time, legitimate news outlets debunked the Daily Mail story, as did Media Matters. Also in 2017, The Daily Caller published a story claiming that a study found no evidence of accelerating temperatures over a 23-year period, which climate scientists described as a misleading story. In 2016, The Daily Caller published a story claiming that climate scientist Michael Mann (director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University) had asserted that data are unnecessary to measure climate change; Mann described the story as "egregiously false". In 2015, The Daily Caller wrote that NOAA "fiddle[d]" with data when the agency published a report concluding that there was no global warming hiatus.
False EPA stories
In 2011, the Daily Caller published a false story claiming that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was going to spend $21 billion per year to hire 230,000 staff to regulate greenhouse gas emissions; at the time, the EPA had 17,000 staff and a total budget of $8.7 billion. The story went viral in right-wing media, and Republican politicians repeated the story. Other news outlets noted that the story was false, but The Daily Caller stood by the story. Adweek reported that the decision of David Martosko, executive editor at The Daily Caller, to stand by the story caused dismay among some the website's staff, who believed the decision undermined the credibility of the outlet.
In 2018, after a National Climate Assessment report about the impact of climate change in the United States was released by the Trump administration (which had been in the works for several years, stretching into the Obama presidency), Trump's EPA dismissed the report's findings. Trump's EPA falsely claimed that the Obama administration had pushed the authors of the report to focus on the worst-case scenario. In doing so, the EPA cited a Daily Caller story. FactCheck.Org wrote about The Daily Caller story that there was no evidence for the claims made, the report focused both on lower and higher scenarios, and much of the report looked at climate change impacts that had already occurred. FactCheck.Org noted that the report underwent multiple reviews, both internally and externally, and that the report was available for public review for a period of three months. The Daily Caller cited as evidence for its claims a memo that allegedly showed that the Obama administration pushed the authors of the report to include worst-case scenarios; FactCheck.Org noted the memo "does not show that the Obama administration pushed for certain scenarios."
Ties to white supremacists
In September 2018, The Atlantic reported that Scott Greer, formerly a deputy editor and contributor at The Daily Caller, had written pieces under a pseudonym "Michael McGregor" in the white supremacist publication Radix Journal from 2014 to 2015. In articles for Radix Journal, Greer expressed white nationalist views, as well as racist anti-black and antisemitic views. While in his emails and messages, he expressed anti-Christian and antisemitic theories, as well his relationship with Richard Spencer. After being confronted with his past white supremacist writings, Greer resigned from any affiliation with The Daily Caller. In 2017 it was revealed that Scott Greer had ties to members of the white nationalist movement, including friendships with Devin Saucier, assistant to Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, and anti-immigrant activist Marcus Epstein of VDare, who had pled guilty to assaulting an African American woman two years prior to the beginning of his relationship with Scott Greer. Greer had later deleted parts of his Facebook page, but is seen photographed with white nationalists such as Spencer, Tim Dionisopoulos, the Wolves of Vinland, and also appears wearing clothes belonging to the group Youth for Western Civilization. The Daily Caller itself subsequently stated about why he had not been fired in 2017: "We had two choices: Fire a young man because of some photos taken of him at metal shows in college, or take his word. We chose to trust him. Now, if what you allege is accurate, we know that trust was a mistake, we know he lied to us. We won't publish him, anyone in these circles, or anyone who thinks like them. People who associate with these losers have no business writing for our company."
The Daily Caller has posted articles by Jason Kessler, a white supremacist who organized a rally of hundreds of white nationalists in Charlottesville. Before Kessler posted his article, he had spoken at white supremacist gatherings. After Kessler received attention for his organizing of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally, The Daily Caller removed his articles from its website, but The Daily Caller executive editor defended Kessler's articles.
The website has also published pieces by Peter Brimelow, founder of the white supremacist website VDARE. The website has also published articles by David Hilton, an anti-Semite who has pushed conspiracy theories that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks. In his articles for The Daily Caller, Hilton promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros, as well as conspiracy theories about "Cultural Marxism."
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has said The Daily Caller has a "white nationalist problem", citing contributions by Kessler, Brimelow, Greer, and Ilana Mercer, whose writing on supposed racially motivated crime in South Africa have also been published in the white nationalist website American Renaissance. The SPLC later retracted its claim that Richard Pollock, a devout Jew, was a white nationalist, saying "Pollock was initially included in this story" but "there is no evidence to suggest Mr. Pollock is otherwise a white nationalist."
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While we observe highly partisan and clickbait news sites on both sides of the partisan divide, especially on Facebook, on the right these sites received amplification and legitimation through an attention backbone that tied the most extreme conspiracy sites like Truthfeed, InfoWars, through the likes of Gateway Pundit and Conservative Treehouse, to bridging sites like the Daily Caller and Breitbart that legitimated and normalized the paranoid style that came to typify the right-wing ecosystem in the 2016 election. [...] while right-wing sites like Breitbart and The Daily Caller link frequently to the New York Times and the Washington Post, links in the other direction are vanishingly rare.
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