The Washington Free Beacon
|Type||Online news site|
|Managing editors||Sonny Bunch, Victorino Matus, Stephanie Wang|
The Washington Free Beacon is an American conservative political journalism website launched in 2012. It states that it is "dedicated to uncovering the stories that the powers that be hope will never see the light of day" and producing "in-depth investigative reporting on a wide range of issues, including public policy, government affairs, international security, and media."
The Free Beacon was founded by Michael Goldfarb, Aaron Harrison, and Matthew Continetti, who remains its editor-in-chief. It launched on February 7, 2012, as a project of the 501(c)4 organization Center for American Freedom. In August 2014, it announced it was becoming a for-profit news site.
The site is noted for its conservative reporting, modeled after liberal counterparts in the media such as ThinkProgress and Talking Points Memo, intended to publicize stories and influence the coverage of the mainstream media. Jack Hunter, a staff member of U.S. 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 former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's successful 1975 legal defense of an accused child rapist that attracted national media attention. In May 2017, it received an award from The Heritage Foundation for its journalism.
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 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 also 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.
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 writes of the Free Beacon 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 writes in The New Republic of the Free Beacon, "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, noting that it is far better than contemporary conservative outlets such as The Daily Caller. Mother Jones however noted 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".
- "About Us". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
- Smith, Ben (5 January 2012). "How to fight liberals: Imitate them". Politico. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
- Rothstein, Betsy (4 August 2014). "Washington Free Beacon goes private". Daily Caller. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
- Auletta, Ken (2 June 2014). "The Hillary Show". The New Yorker. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
- Friedersdorf, Conor (8 February 2012). "The Worst Mission Statement in the History of D.C. Journalism". The Atlantic. theatlantic.com. Retrieved 2016-05-29.
- Antle, Jim (21 July 2013). "Southern Avenger no more: Rand Paul aide Jack Hunter leaves staff, returns to punditry". Daily Caller. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
- Kreutz, Liz (20 June 2014). "Hillary Clinton's Handling of 1975 Rape Case Emerges Again". ABC News. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
- "Washington Free Beacon Honored for Virtuous 'Combat Journalism". Heritage Impact. The Heritage Foundation. 11 May 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
- Vogel, Kenneth P.; Haberman, Maggie (2017-10-27). "Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm That Later Produced Dossier". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- 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. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
- Continetti, Matthew; Goldfarb, Michael (27 October 2017). "Fusion GPS and the Washington Free Beacon". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
- Borchers, Callum (2017-10-27). "Analysis | Washington Free Beacon reported 'an unknown GOP client' funded Fusion GPS. It was the Beacon". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- Continetti, Matthew (30 October 2017). "Editor's Note". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
- Rutenberg, Jim (23 February 2014). "A Conservative Provocateur, Using a Blowtorch as His Pen". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
- Friedersdorf, Conor (8 January 2014). "The ascendant 'smear wing' of the conservative movement". The Atlantic.
- Howe, Ben (11 May 2018). "Dear Conservative Media: Do Some More Damn Reporting". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- Coppins, McKay (19 September 2018). "What if the right-wing media wins?". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- Heer, Jeet (2017). "Democrats like Jon Ossoff should welcome the Washington Free Beacon". The New Republic. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
- Baumann, Nick (March–April 2015). "The Washington Free Beacon Is Unapologetically Conservative. It's Also Kind of Good". Mother Jones. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
- Beaujon, Andrew (6 August 2015). "The Problem With the Mainstream Media: It's Not More Like the Washington Free Beacon". Washingtonian. Retrieved 20 September 2018.