The Washington Free Beacon

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The Washington Free Beacon
Washington Free Beacon.jpg
TypeOnline news site
Editor-in-chiefEliana Johnson
Managing editorsSonny Bunch, Victorino Matus, Stephanie Wang
Political alignmentconservative
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.

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."[1]

The website is financially backed by Paul Singer, an American billionaire hedge fund manager and conservative activist.[2]


The Free Beacon was founded by Michael Goldfarb, Aaron Harrison, and Matthew Continetti. It launched on February 7, 2012, as a project of the 501(c)4 organization Center for American Freedom.[3] In August 2014, it announced it was becoming a for-profit news site.[citation needed]

The site is noted for its conservative reporting, intended to publicize stories and influence the coverage of the mainstream media, and modeled after liberal counterparts in the media such as ThinkProgress and Talking Points Memo.[3][4][5] The site has roots in the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party.[6] 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.[citation needed] 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.[4][7] In May 2017, it received an award from The Heritage Foundation for its journalism.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10] 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."[11]

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."[12] 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."[12] 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.[13]


Jim Rutenburg of The New York Times described the reporting style of the Free Beacon as "gleeful evisceration."[14]

Its tactics have also led to attacks from media critics and watchdog groups. The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf called the Free Beacon's mission "decadent and unethical".[15]

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."[16] 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."[17]

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."[18] 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.[19] 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".[19] That same year, the Washingtonian wrote that "The Beacon’s emphasis on newsgathering sets it apart among right-facing publications".[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  2. ^ 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. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Smith, Ben (January 5, 2012). "How to fight liberals: Imitate them". Politico. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Auletta, Ken (June 2, 2014). "The Hillary Show". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  5. ^ Friedersdorf, Conor (February 8, 2012). "The Worst Mission Statement in the History of D.C. Journalism". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  6. ^ "A Top White House Reporter Is Taking Over The Washington Free Beacon". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  7. ^ Kreutz, Liz (June 20, 2014). "Hillary Clinton's Handling of 1975 Rape Case Emerges Again". ABC News. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  8. ^ "Washington Free Beacon Honored for Virtuous 'Combat Journalism". Heritage Impact. The Heritage Foundation. May 11, 2017. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  9. ^ 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. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Continetti, Matthew; Goldfarb, Michael (October 27, 2017). "Fusion GPS and the Washington Free Beacon". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  12. ^ a b 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. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  13. ^ Continetti, Matthew (October 30, 2017). "Editor's Note". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  14. ^ Rutenberg, Jim (February 23, 2014). "A Conservative Provocateur, Using a Blowtorch as His Pen". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  15. ^ Friedersdorf, Conor (January 8, 2014). "The ascendant 'smear wing' of the conservative movement". The Atlantic.
  16. ^ Howe, Ben (May 11, 2018). "Dear Conservative Media: Do Some More Damn Reporting". The Daily Beast. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  17. ^ Coppins, McKay (September 19, 2018). "What if the right-wing media wins?". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  18. ^ Heer, Jeet (2017). "Democrats like Jon Ossoff should welcome the Washington Free Beacon". The New Republic. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Baumann, Nick (March–April 2015). "The Washington Free Beacon Is Unapologetically Conservative. It's Also Kind of Good". Mother Jones. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  20. ^ Beaujon, Andrew (August 6, 2015). "The Problem With the Mainstream Media: It's Not More Like the Washington Free Beacon". Washingtonian. Retrieved September 20, 2018.

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