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 required to comment
LaunchedSeptember 1, 2013; 5 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] The site was co-founded by Ben Domenech and Sean Davis and launched in September 2013.[4]


The Federalist was co-founded by Ben Domenech and Sean Davis; senior editors include David Harsanyi and Mollie Hemingway.[5][6] Domenech wrote that The Federalist was inspired by the mission and worldview of the original Time magazine, 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."[7]

The Federalist has not disclosed its sources of funding. Asking in 2018 by the Washington Post about funding, Domenech would only say that there was "no large bag of money."[8]

Neil deGrasse Tyson[edit]

In late 2014, The Federalist attracted media coverage when it published articles[9] alleging that Neil deGrasse Tyson had used fabricated quotes in his public presentations, including one attributed to George W. Bush.[10][11][12][13] 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.[14]

Roy Moore[edit]

In November 2017, The Federalist came under criticism from both conservatives and liberals for publishing an opinion piece by Ouachita Baptist University philosopher Tully Borland defending Roy Moore 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."[15] Noah Rothman of the conservative Commentary Magazine said that the op-ed was "rationalizing away child molestation".[15] Molly Roberts of the Washington Post said that the op-ed was "uniquely awful".[16] Ben Domenech defended The Federalist, which "remains avowedly committed to offering alternative views. For those that have a problem with this, the question is simple: what are you afraid of?"[17]

"Black crime" tag controversy[edit]

As of September 28, 2017, The Federalist had a "black crime" tag, which aggregated articles related to criminal activity by Black Americans.[18][19][20] Dan McLaughlin of National Review, a former Federalist contributor, defended the "black crime" tag on the grounds that it was not very noticeable and that "over a couple of years the tag appeared on only five or six posts."[21]

Supreme Court vacancy[edit]

Sean Davis, 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."[22][23] Republicans would later refuse to hold confirmation hearings for President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland.

CNN–FBI conspiracy[edit]

In May 2018, The Federalist published an article which suggested that former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe leaked a story to CNN.[24] 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.[24] 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.[24] 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."[24] The Federalist story was widely disseminated, including a tweet from Donald Trump Jr.[24]


Writing for Politico, Reid Cherlin described The Federalist as a right-wing news source[dubious ] that "seek[s] to go deep on the issues and sway the conversation in Washington".[25] 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".[26] 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."[27]

David Weigel from Bloomberg Politics said 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".[6] 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.[28]


  1. ^ " Site Overview". Alexa Internet. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  2. ^ Domenech, Ben (September 18, 2013). "Introducing The Federalist". Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  3. ^ "Ben Domenech, Publisher". The Federalist. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  4. ^ Domenech, Ben (September 18, 2013). "Introducing The Federalist". Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  5. ^ "Contributors – The Federalist". Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Introducing The Federalist". The Federalist. September 18, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  8. ^ "Why conservative magazines are more important than ever". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  9. ^ "Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Just Trust Me On Those Things I Said, OK?". The Federalist. September 27, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  10. ^ "Neil Tyson: Just Trust Me, OK?". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  11. ^ "Politico's dopey climate denial: Global warming might be fake because Neil deGrasse Tyson did something dumb". Salon. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  12. ^ Lowry, Rich. "The Cult of Neil deGrasse Tyson". Politico. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  13. ^ "The Right's War on Neil deGrasse Tyson". The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  14. ^ Tyson, Neil deGrasse. "Partial Anatomy of My Public Talks". Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Opinion | The worst Roy Moore take ever has arrived". Washington Post. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  17. ^ "A Note On What We Do Here". The Federalist. December 1, 2017. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  18. ^ Ecarma, Caleb (September 28, 2017). "The Federalist Claims NFL Protests Are 'Especially' Offensive to White Americans". Mediaite. Mediaite. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  19. ^ Coaston, Jane (October 12, 2017). "The Hollow Bravery of Ben Shapiro". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  20. ^ Sheffield, Matthew (December 1, 2017). "Roy Moore, the Federalist, and the Decay of the Conservative Mind". Salon. Salon. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  21. ^ McLaughlin, Dan (October 16, 2017). "How Not to Marginalize the Alt-Right". National Review Online. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  22. ^ "Unraveled obamacare religious liberty and executive power | US law". Cambridge University Press. p. 491. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  23. ^ "The ugly political spectacle around Justice Scalia's death". Washington Post. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  24. ^ a b c d e "Anatomy of a Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theory". The New Republic. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  25. ^ "The HuffPo-ization of the Right". Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  26. ^ "The state of conservative media". May 19, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  27. ^ "The irredeemable irresponsibility of The Federalist". May 18, 2018. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  28. ^ Lewis, Matt (June 21, 2017). "The Federalist Embraces Anti-Anti Trumpism, Loses Its Way". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 13, 2017.