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One upon a time, the mainstream media reigned unchallenged. Posing as impartial news gatherers, the institutions of the elite media filtered politics through the decidedly left-wing-lens of most journalists even as they pronounced themselves above the concerns of partisanship. But the mainstream media monopoly on the news – and, just as crucially, the context in which it is set – is under siege like never before. With the rise of FOX News and the Internet, a new generation of combative conservative journalists has begun to challenge the media’s grip on conventional wisdom. The journalistic right’s latest venture is the Washington Free Beacon, an online conservative magazine launched this week. FrontPage magazine caught up with the Beacon’s editor-in-chief, Matthew Continetti. Prior to joining the Beacon, he was opinion editor of the Weekly Standard, where he remains a contributing editor. The author of The K Street Gang: The Rise and Fall of the Republican Machine (Doubleday, 2006) and The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star (Sentinel, 2009), he joined Front Page to discuss his new magazine, the state of the media, and “taking the fight to the left.”
FP: In your introductory essay, you describe what the Washington Free Beacon will be doing as “combat journalism.” What is combat journalism and why is it needed?
MC: Simply put, combat journalism is research, reporting, and writing that takes no prisoners. The more closely one follows the news, the more one notices that the mainstream media apply a far different standard to conservatives and Republicans than to liberals and Democrats. Most liberal reporters—but I repeat myself—believe that conservatives and Republicans, whatever the charge, are guilty until proven innocent. They happily impugn the motives and actions of individuals who do not share their politics while turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to those who do. The WFB’s mission is to flip the terms of the debate—to report intensely and accurately and actively, but with a different set of assumptions, and a different group of targets, than the establishment press.
FP: On the WFB‘s homepage, you write: “At the Beacon, we follow only one commandment: Do unto them.” Can you explain what you mean by that?
MC: It’s our modification of the golden rule: We will do unto the left as they have done unto the right.
FP: What kinds of stories do you want to see the Beacon covering?
MC: We’ve assembled a fantastic team of reporters who will cover the administration, the Democrats in Congress, the institutional basis of the progressive movement, the weakness of liberal internationalist foreign policy, the cronyism endemic to the “green jobs” crusade, the rising threats of Iran, Russia, and China, and the overall hypocrisy and self-dealing of the elite.
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