The Washington Free Beacon
|Type||Online news site|
|Managing editor||Sonny Bunch, Victorino Matus, Stephanie Wang|
The Free Beacon was founded by Michael Goldfarb, Aaron Harrison, and Matthew Continetti. It launched on February 7, 2012, as a project of the Center for American Freedom, a conservative advocacy group modeled on the liberal Center for American Progress.
The site is known for its conservative reporting, with the intention of publicizing stories and influence the coverage of the mainstream media, and modeled after liberal counterparts in the media such as Think Progress and Talking Points Memo. The site has roots in the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party. Jack Hunter, a staff member of Senator Rand Paul's office, resigned in 2013 after a Free Beacon report detailing his past as a radio shock jock known as the "Southern Avenger" who wore a luchador mask of the Confederate flag. The publication also broke several stories about Hillary Clinton's successful 1975 legal defense of an accused child rapist that attracted national media attention.
From October 2015 to May 2016, the Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on "multiple candidates" during the 2016 presidential election, including Donald Trump. The Free Beacon stopped funding this research when Donald Trump had clinched the Republican nomination. Fusion GPS would later hire former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and produce a dossier alleging links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Paul Singer, a billionaire and hedge fund manager, who is a major donor to the Free Beacon, said he was unaware of this dossier until it was published by BuzzFeed News in January 2017. On October 27, 2017, the Free Beacon publicly disclosed that it had hired Fusion GPS, and stated that it "had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele."
The Free Beacon came under criticism for its reporting on Fusion GPS. Three days before it was revealed that it was the Free Beacon that had funded the work by Fusion GPS, the Free Beacon wrote that the firm's work “was funded by an unknown GOP client while the primary was still going on." The Free Beacon has published pieces that have sought to portray the work by Fusion GPS as unreliable "without noting that it considered Fusion GPS reliable enough to pay for its services." In an editor's note, Continetti said "the reason for this omission is that the authors of these articles, and the particular editors who reviewed them, were unaware of this relationship," and that the outlet was reviewing its editorial process to avoid similar issues in the future.
Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times described the reporting style of the Free Beacon as "gleeful evisceration." The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf called the Free Beacon's mission "decadent and unethical".
Ben Howe wrote in The Daily Beast that The Washington Free Beacon established "itself as a credible source of conservative journalism with deep investigative dives and exposes on money in politics," but that after Trump's election "shifted away from the template they were establishing and more towards the path of least resistance: spending their time criticizing the left and the media, along with healthy doses of opinion writing." McKay Coppins in the Columbia Journalism Review wrote in September 2018 that while the website contains "a fair amount of trolling... it has also earned a reputation for real-deal journalism...If a partisan press really is the future, we could do worse than the Free Beacon."
Jeet Heer, writing in The New Republic, commented: "Unlike other comparable conservative websites, the Free Beacon makes an effort to do original reporting. Its commitment to journalism should be welcomed by liberals." In 2015, Mother Jones wrote positively of the Free Beacon, commenting that it is far better than contemporary conservative outlets such as The Daily Caller. Mother Jones however said that "the Beacon hasn't always steered clear of stories that please the base but don’t really stand up," and that it pieces inflammatory pieces that "push conservatives’ buttons". That same year, the Washingtonian wrote that "The Beacon's emphasis on newsgathering sets it apart among right-facing publications."
- Vogel, Kenneth P.; Haberman, Maggie (October 27, 2017). "Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm That Later Produced Dossier (Published 2017)". The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
- Lima, Cristiano (October 27, 2017). "Conservative Free Beacon originally funded firm that created Trump-Russia dossier". POLITICO. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
- Wines, Michael (May 30, 2019). "Deceased G.O.P. Strategist's Hard Drives Reveal New Details on the Census Citizenship Question". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 30, 2019. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
- Smith, Ben (January 5, 2012). "How to fight liberals: Imitate them". Politico. Archived from the original on November 7, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Auletta, Ken (June 2, 2014). "The Hillary Show". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on September 13, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Friedersdorf, Conor (February 8, 2012). "The Worst Mission Statement in the History of D.C. Journalism". The Atlantic. theatlantic.com. Archived from the original on March 20, 2017. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- "A Top White House Reporter Is Taking Over The Washington Free Beacon". BuzzFeed News. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
- Kreutz, Liz (June 20, 2014). "Hillary Clinton's Handling of 1975 Rape Case Emerges Again". ABC News. Archived from the original on September 12, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Vogel, Kenneth P.; Haberman, Maggie (October 27, 2017). "Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm That Later Produced Dossier". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on October 27, 2017. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
- Vogel, Kenneth P.; Haberman, Maggie (October 27, 2017). "Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm That Later Produced Dossier". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 27, 2017. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
- Continetti, Matthew; Goldfarb, Michael (October 27, 2017). "Fusion GPS and the Washington Free Beacon". Washington Free Beacon. Archived from the original on October 27, 2017. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
- Borchers, Callum (October 27, 2017). "Analysis | Washington Free Beacon reported 'an unknown GOP client' funded Fusion GPS. It was the Beacon". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on October 28, 2017. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
- Continetti, Matthew (October 30, 2017). "Editor's Note". Washington Free Beacon. Archived from the original on November 17, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
- Rutenberg, Jim (February 23, 2014). "A Conservative Provocateur, Using a Blowtorch as His Pen". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 12, 2017. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Friedersdorf, Conor (January 8, 2014). "The ascendant 'smear wing' of the conservative movement". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on July 31, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
- Howe, Ben (May 11, 2018). "Dear Conservative Media: Do Some More Damn Reporting". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on September 20, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Coppins, McKay (September 19, 2018). "What if the right-wing media wins?". Columbia Journalism Review. Archived from the original on September 20, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Heer, Jeet (2017). "Democrats like Jon Ossoff should welcome the Washington Free Beacon". The New Republic. Archived from the original on September 21, 2018. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
- Baumann, Nick (March–April 2015). "The Washington Free Beacon Is Unapologetically Conservative. It's Also Kind of Good". Mother Jones. Archived from the original on September 21, 2018. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
- Beaujon, Andrew (August 6, 2015). "The Problem With the Mainstream Media: It's Not More Like the Washington Free Beacon". Washingtonian. Archived from the original on June 24, 2016. Retrieved September 20, 2018.