Commentary

Right-Wing Personalities Use Small Sites To Sell Their Ideas

From my daily perusing of dozens of right-wing websites for TheRighting, I've discovered more than 10 websites from right-wing personalities featuring commentary, original reporting and ecommerce.  The quality, content and frequency of updating vary wildly, but the conservative political and media notables who oversee these ventures all share one thing in common: Their names are baked into the URLs of their sites. 

It's a simple but highly effective way to push their political viewpoints, "report" the news, build their brands, and, most importantly, stamp their own highly personalized identities onto their micro-publishing empires.

It’s a model few liberal voices have embraced. And it’s a clever fusion of marketing, journalism and salesmanship.

To help explain these sites, I’ve compiled a list of the right-wing notables who regularly make the effort to reach news consumers directly with their thoughts and ideas — and maybe even sell a few books or health pills (Mike Cernovich, I’m looking at you!).  I’ve arranged in descending order, based on the number of May 2018 visits, per SimilarWeb.

Rush Limbaugh (www.rushlimbaugh.com)

May 2018 visits: 4,270,000

This site offers transcripts of the popular right-wing radio talk-show host’s radio programs from the previous day.  It’s broken down by subjects and topics in a well-organized, easy-to-read format. If you’re coming from the center or left, Rush’s riffs can feel like a punch in the gut, but there’s no denying his showmanship and verbal agility.  

Great user-friendly feature: There are tabs for each daily subject that allow visitors to read the transcript and listen to or watch his show. (Users need to cough up their email addresses to access.)

Sean Hannity (www.hannity.com)

May 2018 visits: 2,800,000

The popular Fox News anchor has staffers publish short news articles about topics of interest to his followers. There are several posts a day with links to stories, but little original reporting.

Surprising feature: Hannity doesn’t use the site as a platform to express his opinions — although he pushes visitors to his radio show, which has a clear point of view.

Todd Starnes (www.toddstarnes.com)

May 2018 visits: 2,240,000

The website of Fox News radio host and author Todd Starnes provides a few new stories every day written by Starnes. He addresses issues and topics popular with the right. There are links on his site to his free, daily podcasts.

There is an annoying lead paragraph inserted in every story: Starnes informs visitors that Facebook is cracking down on conservative content and then asks them to subscribe to his free newsletter.  

Pam Geller (www.gellerreport.com)

May 2018 visits:1,280,000

Anti-Islamist Pam Geller founded this robust site featuring several posts a day from the industrious founder. It’s pro-Israel, and there is a smattering of pieces from sources like Reuters. Surprising fact you’ll learn on her site: She was once the associate publisher of The New York Observer.  

Bill O’Reilly (www.billoreilly.com)

May 2018 visits: 1,140,000

Recently revamped, the website of the popular former Fox News anchor now offers more free content for visitors. In particular, there’s a fairly robust “Daily Briefing” section featuring brief news roundups written by his staff about the latest topics of interest to (or promoting) the right. But a large part of this site includes members-only content (about $50 a year to join).

Surprising feature: A weekly free current-events quiz.

Ann Coulter (www.anncoulter.com)

May 2018 visits: 596,820

For the willowy Coulter, thin is in, especially when it comes to the content on her website. She posts only a few times a month, usually a first-person essay about politics. It’s clear she’s not devoting a lot of time to the website, but it gives her a home base and a chance to build her Twitter followers and sell books.

Surprising feature: In the “My Life” section of her site, she lists nine reporters who are allowed to interview her again.

Sharyl Attkisson (www.sharylattkisson.com)

May 2018 visits: 348,140

Attkisson posts several times a month on an eclectic — and sometimes confusing — array of topics.  Above the links to posts, navigation bars are arranged under subjects like Benghazi, Medical & Vaccine, and Astroturf and Propaganda.

Provocative website subhead that just might pull you in: “Untouchable Subjects. Fearless Reporting.”

Michelle Malkin (www.michellemalkin.com)

May 2018 visits: 281,150

The conservative syndicated columnist posts about once or twice a week. She offers pointed political commentary. There are links to her CRTV shows, which require a paid subscription after a free trial.

Useless fact you’ll learn on her site: Malkin’s shoe size is 6 1/2.  

Pat Buchanan (www.buchanan.org).  

May 2018 visits: 260,030

This site is dominated by the former Nixon speechwriter’s political essays, which he posts several times a week. With its clunky headlines and stodgy fonts, the site needs a more contemporary look and feel. No one at Politico is losing sleep over this product.  

Surprising feature: The site has a page of memorable quotes from Buchanan.

Mike Cernovich (www.cernovich.com)

May 2018 visits: 218,880

Darling of the far right and promoter of inflammatory theories — Hillary was part of a pedophile ring is his most notorious — Mike Cernovich’s site features short posts almost daily on a variety of subjects, not always political.  

Strange product for sale on his site: Cernovich’s Gorilla Mind Smooth Brain Health Formula ($29.99 per bottle) to enhance memory and concentration.  

Laura Ingraham (www.lauraingraham.com)

May 2018 visits: 113,680

While this site appears to exist mainly as a vehicle to promote the popular broadcaster’s radio show and her right-wing website LifeZette, it’s packed with a lot of content. It’s clear that someone is working hard every day to keep the stories fresh. Also clear: she’s trying to up-sell visitors to pay for access to her commercial-free audio content.

Heartwarming section: At the bottom of the “About” page, Ingraham lists her 10 favorite charities.

Sarah Palin (www.sarahpalin.com) and Bernard Goldberg (www.bernardgoldberg.com) also have sites, but their audience visits for May were so low that they didn’t even register with SimilarWeb.  

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