The Federalist (website)

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The Federalist
Federalist logo.png
Type of site
Online magazine
Available inEnglish
HeadquartersUnited States
Created byBen Domenech
Sean Davis
EditorDavid Harsanyi
Mollie Hemingway
Alexa rank14,356 (October 2018)[1]
RegistrationOptional, but is not required to comment
LaunchedSeptember 1, 2013; 6 years ago (2013-09-01)
Current statusActive

The Federalist is an American conservative online magazine and podcast that covers politics, policy, culture, and religion, and publishes a newsletter.[2][3][4][5] The site was co-founded by Ben Domenech and Sean Davis and launched in September 2013.[5]


The Federalist was co-founded by Ben Domenech and Sean Davis; senior editors include David Harsanyi and Mollie Hemingway.[6][7] Domenech wrote that The Federalist was inspired by the mission and worldview of the original Time magazine's editor, Henry Luce, which he described as, "[leaning] to the political right, with a small-c conservatism equipped with a populist respect for the middle class reader outside of New York and Washington, and an abiding love for America at a time when snark and cynicism were not considered substitutes for smart analysis."[8]

The Federalist has not disclosed its sources of funding. Asked in 2018 by the Washington Post about The Federalist's source of funding, Domenech would only say that there was "no large bag of money."[9][relevant? ]

Neil deGrasse Tyson[edit]

In late 2014, The Federalist attracted media coverage when it published articles[10] alleging that Neil deGrasse Tyson had used fabricated quotes in his public presentations, including one attributed to George W. Bush.[11][12][13][14] Tyson later cited the Bush quote to a speech given after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, and apologized to Bush for misremembering the date and context.[15]

Roy Moore[edit]

In November 2017, The Federalist came under criticism from both conservatives and liberals for publishing an opinion piece by Tully Borland, Ouachita Baptist University philosopher, defending Roy Moore for dating teenagers while he was in his 30s, and arguing that such behavior was "not without some merit if one wants to raise a large family."[16] Noah Rothman of the conservative Commentary Magazine stated that the op-ed was "rationalizing away child molestation."[16] Molly Roberts of the Washington Post wrote that the op-ed was "uniquely awful."[17] Ben Domenech defended The Federalist for publishing Borland's op-ed saying the magazine "remains avowedly committed to offering alternative views. For those that have a problem with this, the question is simple: what are you afraid of?"[18]

"Black crime" tag controversy[edit]

Until October 2017, The Federalist had a "black crime" tag, which aggregated articles related to criminal activity by black Americans.[19][20][21] Dan McLaughlin of National Review, a former Federalist contributor, said that the phrasing of the "black crime" tag was "unfortunate," that when he had written for The Federalist he had "never even noticed that there were tags at the bottom of my essays," and that The Federalist "had deleted the tag as soon as it attracted any notice—over a couple of years the tag appeared on only five or six posts."[22]

Supreme Court vacancy[edit]

Sean Davis, co-founder of The Federalist, was among the first to declare, upon news of the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, that the Senate should refuse to confirm President Obama's nomination to the Court. Davis tweeted, "If Scalia has actually passed away, the Senate must refuse to confirm any justices in 2016."[23][24]

CNN–FBI conspiracy theory[edit]

In May 2018, The Federalist published an article which suggested that former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe had leaked a story to CNN.[25] The article presented no evidence that this was the case, only that McCabe was aware that CNN would publish a story four days prior to its eventual publication.[25] According to Matt Ford in The New Republic, the more likely explanation was that CNN contacted the FBI Press Office, consistent with journalistic practices, for comment on a forthcoming story.[25] George W. Bush's former press secretary Ari Fleischer agreed that CNN was likely contacting the FBI for comment on a forthcoming story, and said that "Whoever told CNN about the briefing is the problem."[25] The Federalist story was widely disseminated, including a tweet from Donald Trump Jr.[25]


Writing for Politico in 2014, Reid Cherlin wrote about The Federalist in an article about the rise in right-wing media online, describing the site as "seek[ing] to go deep on the issues and sway the conversation in Washington."[26] Matt K. Lewis wrote in The Week that conservative online media was divided between "staid, august publications" and "a new generation of irreverent sites," and that "[s]ites like The Federalist try to bridge the gap by providing serious commentary that is typically written by young, pop culture–savvy writers."[27] In May 2018, Damon Linker of The Week describes The Federalist as "a leading disseminator of pro-Trump conspiracies and up-is-down, funhouse-mirror distortions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and potential Trump involvement."[28]

David Weigel from Bloomberg Politics stated that The Federalist frequently criticizes left-leaning publications, but was founded with the intention of being "a source of original interviews and real-time arguments between conservatives and libertarians."[7] During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, conservative pundit and Trump critic Matt K. Lewis writing for The Daily Beast noted a shift in The Federalist's coverage of Donald Trump, first criticizing the presidential candidate, and then, after Trump won the presidency, criticizing Trump's liberal critics in the mainstream establishment media and casting Trump as a victim.[29]


  1. ^ " Site Overview". Alexa Internet. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  2. ^ Polskin, Howard (August 19, 2019). "How conservative media has grown under Trump". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  3. ^ Greenberg, Jon (October 1, 2019). "Donald Trump's false claim about a change in whistleblower rules". PolitiFact. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  4. ^ Kanu, Hassan (September 27, 2019). "The Federalist Hit With Labor Complaint Over Founder's Tweets". Bloomberg Law. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Domenech, Ben (September 18, 2013). "Introducing The Federalist". Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  6. ^ "Contributors". The Federalist. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Weigel, David. "The Torch Is Being Passed to A New Generation of Right-Wing Media". Archived from the original on December 17, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  8. ^ "Introducing The Federalist". The Federalist. September 18, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  9. ^ "Why conservative magazines are more important than ever". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  10. ^ "Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Just Trust Me On Those Things I Said, OK?". The Federalist. September 27, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  11. ^ "Neil Tyson: Just Trust Me, OK?". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  12. ^ "Politico's dopey climate denial: Global warming might be fake because Neil deGrasse Tyson did something dumb". Salon. October 3, 2014. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  13. ^ Lowry, Rich. "The Cult of Neil deGrasse Tyson". Politico. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  14. ^ Mak, Tim (September 19, 2014). "The Right's War on Neil deGrasse Tyson". The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  15. ^ Tyson, Neil deGrasse. "Partial Anatomy of My Public Talks". Facebook. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  16. ^ a b Sommer, Will (November 30, 2017). "Conservative site gets major blowback after defending Moore dating teens 'to raise a large family'". TheHill. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  17. ^ "Opinion | The worst Roy Moore take ever has arrived". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  18. ^ "A Note On What We Do Here". The Federalist. December 1, 2017. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  19. ^ Ecarma, Caleb (September 28, 2017). "The Federalist Claims NFL Protests Are 'Especially' Offensive to White Americans". Mediaite. Mediaite. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  20. ^ Coaston, Jane (October 12, 2017). "The Hollow Bravery of Ben Shapiro". The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  21. ^ Sheffield, Matthew (December 1, 2017). "Roy Moore, the Federalist, and the Decay of the Conservative Mind". Salon. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  22. ^ McLaughlin, Dan (October 16, 2017). "How Not to Marginalize the Alt-Right". National Review. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  23. ^ "Unraveled obamacare religious liberty and executive power | US law". Cambridge University Press. p. 491. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  24. ^ "The ugly political spectacle around Justice Scalia's death". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  25. ^ a b c d e "Anatomy of a Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theory". The New Republic. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  26. ^ Reid Cherlin. "The HuffPo-ization of the Right". Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  27. ^ "The state of conservative media". May 19, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  28. ^ "The irredeemable irresponsibility of The Federalist". May 18, 2018. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  29. ^ Lewis, Matt (June 21, 2017). "The Federalist Embraces Anti-Anti Trumpism, Loses Its Way". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 13, 2017.