Spotlight on “The Federalist”

Spotlight on “The Federalist”

By Evan Vorpahl and Ansev Demirhan

With a new battle brewing over the Supreme Court, we are shining a light on some of the instruments of the right-wing echo chamber, starting with “The Federalist.” That is the name of a right-wing website that describes itself as an online magazine.

It has posted scores of pieces about the Court, the justices, and the nomination process – including numerous posts defending controversial GOP nominees and attacking progressive voices.

The Federalist has no affiliation with the “Federalist Society,” the more widely known group of lawyers created to get right-wingers on the federal bench and in other key positions of power. Both names are a reference to the Federalist Papers, the essays that argued for the adoption of our Constitution, which established a strong federal government in contrast to the weak central government created by the ineffectual Articles of Confederation. However, both of the groups that bear that name attack federal power, though in strikingly different ways.  

The Federalist is in the business of producing political diatribes that attack the left and moderates as well as the press. It has staff described as writers, contributors, and editors who hail from right-wing political circles, and it promotes their claims on a wide range of issues.

A review of its track record and the record of its publisher reveals numerous instances of false assertions, reckless claims, and other troubling approaches to issues of public policy.

  1. Posts by The Federalist Have Contributed to Claims Rated “False” by Politifact and Other Independent Fact-Checkers

The Federalist has crowed when politicians and other famous right-wingers have repeated its claims. But some of those speakers have found themselves in hot water for relying on claims posted on its website.  

Ukraine. For example, President Donald Trump, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Rudy Giuliani all tweeted a claim posted by The Federalist that the rules for whistleblowers were changed just before the filing of the whistleblower complaint that helped trigger the first impeachment of Trump. Politifact reviewed the claim and found it was “false.” The rules had not been changed and, although the form for whistleblowers had been simplified, the whistleblower had used the form before it was changed.

The post that spawned this false rating was written by the co-founder of The Federalist, Sean Davis, on September 27, 2019. Filed under the topic “collusion”, the piece was headlined: “Intel Community Secretly Gutted Requirement Of First-Hand Whistleblower Knowledge.” 

Politifact documented that the whistleblower had actually filed a complaint using the original, long-standing form and in accordance with the long-standing (and unchanged) rules for such complaints. 

The core of that complaint was a serious matter of national security, specifically thatTrump was, in the words of the whistleblower, “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals. The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort.” 

Trump denied any wrongdoing and attacked the whistleblower as well as the process the whistleblower used to file the complaint.

Despite the finding by Politifact that the claim in its piece that was the basis for the tweets was false, the article remains in full on The Federalist site. There is no correction noted and no acknowledgement for readers of that post that its central claim was found by Politifact to be “False.” The Washington Post also gave Trump’s claim about the whistleblower law “four Pinocchios,” noting that his false claim derived from The Federalist’s piece. 

Notably, not only did The Federalist fail to retract or correct that post, but also then-senior editor Mollie Hemingway outed the name of the whistleblower on FOX’s Sunday program, even though – according to the Daily Beast – FOX had instructed its employees not to do so because the identity had not been verified. Hemingway, a paid FOX contributor, was appearing on a panel about whether the media should reveal the name. Trump and his allies had been pressuring major outlets to name the whistleblower. 

The whistleblower Hemingway named was Alexander Vindman, who was then the Director of European Affairs for the National Security Council and was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army who had been awarded a Purple Heart. His subsequent testimony before Congress provided evidence for the “abuse of power” charge lodged by the majority of the House of Representatives against Trump when it impeached him. A majority of U.S. Senators voted to convict Trump after an impeachment trial, but the Constitution requires a supermajority and a minority of Trump partisans in the Senate thwarted his conviction and removal from office before the 2022 election which he was trying to distort. 

After Hemingway publicized Vindman’s identity on national television, The Federalist wrote numerous pieces attacking his character and supporting Trump’s retribution against Vindman. (The Federalist was also a leading disseminator of pro-Trump conspiracies about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump and Russian efforts to help Trump win in 2016, interference which was documented by the nation’s intelligence agencies in their unanimous assessment.)  

At issue in Vindman’s allegations was one of the most significant abuses of presidential power ever documented. The claims about the whistleblower process that The Federalist asserted as fact were found by Politifact and the Washington Post to be false. This whistleblower process did not involve a he said/she said dispute but an easily verifiable chronology of events. The totality of The Federalist’s coverage of these issues around Trump reveals an almost unrestrained or unhinged partisanship and bias.

The Vindman episode illustrates how The Federalist has operated as an attack machine that aided Trump in ways that even exceeded the bar set by FOX. It also underscores how The Federalist does not abide by traditional norms of journalism despite calling itself a magazine. 

That episode is not the only time The Federalist has disseminated claims later proven to be false.

Voter Fraud Claims. The Federalist posted numerous claims around the 2020 election that promote the “Big Lie” that the presidential election was stolen. Many of the claims spread by The Federalist have been debunked. One in particular was the subject of a review by Politifact because it was picked up and promoted by Tucker Carlson on FOX. 

In July 2021, Carlson claimed: “It now appears there actually was meaningful voter fraud in Fulton County, Georgia, last November. That is not a conspiracy theory. It’s true.” He  told viewers he was giving them a “fact-based” “official version” of what happened in the presidential election in Georgia’s most populous county, Fulton County, which is a Democratic stronghold that includes Atlanta. 

“Nearly 35,000 Georgia voters moved out of their county of residence more than a month prior to Election Day,” Carlson said. “They were ineligible to vote. And yet they did,” he claimed – based on a post by The Federalist.

Politifact rated that claim to be “False.” Factcheck.org also reviewed the claims promoted by The Federalist and stated that 35,000 false votes “Were Not Found.”

The Federalist’s post had stated that some of those 35,000 people – such as members of the military – may have only temporarily relocated, but the overall thrust of the piece was buttressing Trump’s Big Lie claims about Georgia. Its headline was “Ignoring Georgia Illegal Voting Proves Democrats Don’t Care About Election Integrity At All.” 

The Secretary of State for Georgia, Brad Raffensperger told Politifact that the state disputed the assertion that thousands of Georgians had illegally voted or voted without residing in the county. Infamously, Trump had tried to pressure Raffensperger to find him 11,000 votes so that Georgia would be counted as voting for Trump rather than Joe Biden for the Electoral College count that Trump later tried to disrupt on January 6, 2021. 

There is no editorial note or update added to The Federalist’s piece to acknowledge that its primary claim was rated false or that the head of elections in Georgia disputed the 35,000 votes claim. A subsequent lawsuit alleging fraud in the Georgia election was dismissed by a judge. The Federalist article mentioned “fraud” 17 times. (Raffensperger has expressed a different concern about Fulton County: a fear that additional procedures are needed to protect voters from being accidentally disenfranchised.)

This was not the only claim about election fraud made by The Federalist that has been called out by reporters and fact-checkers. For example, it also raised the specter of fraud in Michigan–claims that were promoted by Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)–for what turned out to be a clerical error. This hype was criticized by the Washington Post’sfact-checking team. Factcheck.org noted that the error “Prompted Unfounded Claims about Michigan Results.”

Examples of Other Claims Found to Be False. Another claim by The Federalist — this time regarding the Clintons — which Rush Limbaugh repeated in one of his monologues received a Politifact finding of falseness. Another garnered “two Pinocchios” of falseness from the Washington Post for Vice President Mike Pence.  

Another claim by The Federalist was dubbed a “Pants on Fire” lie when Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder repeated it. In that instance, as Jeremy Stahl at Slatedetailed, The Federalist’s Sean Davis promoted doubts about a grotesque anti-semitic incident at the University of Missouri in his post and on Twitter. (Kinder later lost his 2016 bid to become Missouri’s governor.)

The Columbia Journalism Review also traced how a claim by The Federalist — that people protesting an immigration raid were opposing the break-up of a “child sex ring” — was widely disseminated. Donald Trump, Jr., and Katrina Pierson retweeted The Federalist’s claim, and then President Trump retweeted Pierson’s claim that the protests showed how “stupid” the left is to his more than 53 million followers.

It turned out that The Federalist had recycled an old report from an archived news site but that report had subsequently been debunked by another outlet, months before The Federalist hyped it. To this day, the piece remains on The Federalist’s site with a slightly tweaked headline: “WATCH: Neighbors Protest ICE As It Investigates Child Sex Trafficking Ring.” There is a note at the very bottom that politicians have said only immigration charges have been filed against the immigrants who were searched and seized. (The original headline was changed from using the verb “breaks up” to the word “investigates.”) 

These are just some of the controversies that have arisen from The Federalist’s posts, which include the recent incorrect claim that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigiegwas staging fake bike rides for PR. 

  1. Condemnation for Other Controversial Claims by The Federalist 

The Federalist has also published articles that have been extremely controversial or even reckless from a public health standpoint. 

Covid-19 Infection Parties. The Federalist has published numerous articles that have cast doubt on public health measures during the pandemic, which has now cost more than 900,000 Americans their lives. 

To take one of many such articles, early in the pandemic in March 2020, The Federalist published a piece titled “How Medical ‘Chickenpox Parties’ Could Turn The Tide Of The Wuhan Virus.” It argued that Americans should intentionally infect themselves with the virus in order to reach “herd immunity” and save the economy. The article was widely ridiculed and panned by the medical community. Twitter temporarily suspended The Federalist’s account for promoting misinformation.

As The Atlantic has shown, right-wing anti-vaccine messaging has helped influence some people’s decisions to remain unvaccinated. Most Americans have received at least one dose, but many have not.

In a similar vein, Joy Pullman, whose title is “executive editor” of The Federalist, published a piece last year – after the vaccine became available – which argued that for Christians, dying from COVID could be a “good thing.” The piece noted that pandemic mitigation efforts cannot stave off death for everyone. 

The post pushed the position that Christians are martyrs and that if they accept themselves as such they can attend indoor church services and “can even go to the hospital rooms and bedrooms of those dying with infectious diseases and love them to the end.…” Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is now taking a page from this argument by trying to block hospitals from implementing public health protection rules to try to prevent further spread of the deadly disease by those hospitalized and dying after being infected. 

The Federalist’s podcast has also trafficked in provocation over Covid-19 and more. For example, it was criticized for joking about killing federal employees. As an interview in the Columbia Journalism Review noted: “When the host of The Federalist podcast joked about reducing staff numbers at federal agencies by ‘banning masks and turning off the air-conditioning,’ [Michael Pack, Trump’s appointee to head Voice of America] responded, ‘We’ll have to look into that one.’” (Pack also suggested in that podcast that VOA reporters might be spies, without rebuke from the Federalist despite risks such a claim poses to press.)

Notably, The Federalist’s posts advancing COVID-19 and vaccine doubt or misinformation have led a former contributor to describe it as a “conspiracy-mongering partisan rag that has now become a menace to public health.” 

The Big (Lucrative) Lie. A review of The Federalist pieces discussing “voter fraud” indicates that it has hewed closely to Trump’s party line.

Posts such as “Mail-In Voting Is Only Democrats’ Latest Election-Stealing Strategy” sowed distrust of the 2020 presidential election results, before the election even happened. Like Trump, despite the growing death rate from Covid-19, The Federalist peddled fears over vote by mail and voter fraud–and no such widespread fraud has been found. 

Since the election, The Federalist has continued to flank Trump’s claims about election fraud, asserting things like: “The difference is, in this election, we had massive mail-in balloting on a scale that some of these states have never seen before, opening up for levels of fraud that they’ve never seen before.”   

Playing a central role in this effort is The Federalist’s new editor-in-chief, Mollie Hemingway. On the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrection – which was incited by Trump and his Big Lie – she penned a piece arguing that the “hysteria” around January 6 was a deflection tactic. She claimed the media and Democrats are using the event to avoid “accountability” for “rigging” the 2020 presidential election. 

This is basically the same argument she made in her book from Regnery Publishing, which is titled “Rigged.” The Guardian called the book “shameless – and dangerous – catnip for Trump’s base.”

Climate Change Denial. While climate change  threatens the future of life on earth, The Federalist continues to publish climate change denial. Its website also has tags like “Global Warming Alarmism” that promote climate disinformation. 

Posts in The Federalist have asserted that climate change is more about “government control than science.” It claimed that data models are “[f]undamentally flawed” and asserted that “only in the fantasy land of complex and unproven attribution models” could there exist a connection between the rise in greenhouse emissions and the increase in life-threatening heat waves across the globe. 

In one piece, titled “You Don’t Need To Be A Scientist To Be Legitimately Skeptical Of Climate Alarmism,” David Brietenbeck stated “I am not a scientist. I have no scientific background beyond what I’ve picked up from reading things written by and about actual scientists. So I am, therefore, in no position to critique any scientific theory as a theory.” The piece sows doubt about climate change findings.

Also Noteworthy and Disturbing. In 2017, the Federalist published an article urging Alabamanians to vote for Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate after it was revealed that he initiated sexual contact with a 14-year old girl when he was a 32-year old lawyer. The article seemingly justifies Moore’s actions and claims that the practice of older men dating teenage girls at the time was “not without some merit if one wants to raise a large family.” The Federalist and its co-founder Ben Domenech stood by this post, despite the firestorm caused by its defense of sexual predation of minor girls by adult men.

The Federalist also used its site to repeatedly attack Dr. Christine Blasey Ford after she accused Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to sexually assault her, which he denied. Mollie Hemingway has played a key role in The Federalist’s efforts to discredit Blasey Ford, and wrote a book with Carrie Severino – of the Leonard Leo-tied Judicial Crisis Network – that defends Kavanaugh and repeatedly criticizes Blasey Ford.

Most recently, The Federalist published a piece by Mark Paoletta attacking an investigation by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker about Ginni Thomas’ close ties to right-wing groups, including some that file briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Federalist’s piece almost immediately resulted in a correction of how it tried to defend the Thomases with a comparison that effectively mischaracterized the recusal practices of another federal judge and her spouse. 

In that piece, Paoletta also wrote that Justice Thomas denied he had attended a “United in Purpose” event in December of 2017, which was discussed in Mayer’s investigation. That event was held at Trump’s hotel  in D.C. where Ginni gave “Impact Awards” to her close allies, including Leonard Leo, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas, Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, and others. 

In her investigation, Mayer quoted from a closed-door speech by evangelical leader Jimmy Johnson at the Council of National Policy. Here are some key excerpts of  remarks Johnson gave for a panel Ginni was featured on in October 2018, on the eve of the mid-term election (and obtained by Documented): 

“We are reminded, we are reminded this week, we are at war. When Alexander the Great lay dying, his generals gathered round and asked him, ‘Whose is the kingdom?’ And Alexander the Great responded, ‘It is for him who can take it.’We have to take it, or it will be somebody else. We are at war. You have to choose sides. And you have to get in the fight. Now we need to be happy warriors, joyful… And there is a time in the battle when it’s all hands on deck, essentially, and folks, we have entered that time and that’s what this session is about… Turn off your cell phone…. And secondly, do not record, no audio, no video recording. This is off the record, and it allows us to have more freedom, actually, better discussion.

OK, well, let’s just get to it and talk about the first panel. You know, I was at an awards ceremony last year in D.C. and this fellow in front of me kept laughing and reacting to the speakers. He was a warrior. He was a happy warrior. His wife was running the meeting. That man was Justice Clarence Thomas, and his wife is Ginni Thomas, and she is president of Liberty Consulting. She, as you just heard a moment ago, is really rewarding and showcasing and honoring our leaders with the High Impact Award event, and I encourage you to attend that event, it was very edifying… The other side is certainly at war, and, but she is a happy warrior… Let’s welcome Ginni Thomas…

The Federalist’s piece stated that Johnson denied Thomas was at the Impact Award’s ceremony Ginni presided over in 2017. It does not name the “other” awards ceremony meeting that Ginni was running  in 2017 which he says Thomas attended, in The Federalist’s telling. It is indisputable that Johnson was at the United in Purpose event where Ginni presided over awards given to Leonard Leo and others.

Notably, Paoletta has penned other pieces defending Clarence Thomas for The Federalist. Some of these call Anita Hill a liar and continue to defend Thomas from charges of sexual harassment, despite Hill’s testimony under oath that he made gross sexual overtures toward her, accusations Thomas denied. 

Paoletta’s author bio for these stories discloses that he worked on Thomas’ confirmation thirty years ago, but it does not note that Paoletta has been actively promoting Justice Thomas’ new memoir. Paoletta and Carrie Severino are listed as the contact people for press about the book Thomas wrote, which is being promoted by Leo’s CRC Advisors group, which grew out of the PR firm Creative Response Concepts. 

Over the years, The Federalist has also published pieces that advance sexist tropes – though over the years it has added more women staffers and contributors. Here is one such example of its sexist posts: 

  1. It Has Also Advanced a Seemingly Racist, Anti-Black Agenda 

Until October 2017, The Federalist aggregated articles related to crime under a “black crime” tab. It never had a “white crime” tag for its articles.  

In addition to the “black crime” tag, The Federalist has a history of publishing undeniably racist content. For example, one of the articles on its site had a subheading that stated: “Every time I hear of a black man being killed by the cops, he’s almost always a criminal thug I have no desire to defend.” The subhead was later removed.

Another piece – by D.C. MacAllister, whose title is “senior contributor” – claimed that all Americans “especially if they’re white” should be offended by NFL players’ protests of police brutality and the systemic racism Black Americans face. The media site Mediate has argued that McAllister appeared to equate American patriotism with white nationalism. 

Notably, in the aftermath of the Charlottesville march by white supremacists and neo-Nazis, Trump infamously claimed there were “good people” on “both sides.” McAllister seemingly echoed that “both sides” framing when by describing what happened as: “A single individual reacted to the violence with more violence, driving his car into the crowd and killing a young woman” instead of identifying the man who ran her over, James Fields, as a white supremacist, and Heather Heyer as a peaceful, anti-racist counter-protester. Fields was sentenced to life plus 429 years in prison for first degree murder for killing Heyer and for aggravated malicious wounding.

In the summer of 2020, Google issued a warning to The Federalist that it could be removed from its AdSense platform over user comments, suggesting that the content produced by The Federalist prompted racist postings on its site and that it did not sufficiently moderate those comments. The Federalist removed the comment section, but its co-founder and publisher, Ben Domenech, went on the attack, seemingly in defense of the right to publish racist comments, saying:  “We are really learning the degree to which Big Tech can be weaponized by woke mobs, or woke journalists in this case, to try to shut down places who disagree with their leftist agenda.”

  1. One of Its Founders Was Repeatedly Accused of Plagiarism

The Federalist was launched in 2013 by Sean Davis and Domenech, who remains its publisher. Over the years, Domenech has been accused of publishing falsehoods, rumors, and extreme claims, some of which he has apologized for. Here are some examples:

  • Domenech claimed he mistakenly attributed a quote that was never made before to the well-regarded journalist Tim Russert, in Domenech’s 2002 defense of President George W. Bush.
  • In 2006, as documented by Media Matters, Domenech wrote that people should be angry that Bush attended the funeral of Coretta Scott King, whom Domenech called a “Communist.” That same smear was used by opponents of the civil rights movement – like the Charles Koch-funded John Birch Society – to try to tarnish her husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as Rosa Parks and other civil rights leaders. Domenech also derided Scott King’s memorial service as a “political rally.”    
  • In 2010, when it was widely speculated that President Obama would nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, Domenech spread rumors that she was an out lesbian. 

In 2006, Domenech was hired as a “conservative” blogger for the Washington Post as part of “Red America,” the paper’s effort to appeal to right-wing readers. Some objected to the hiring because of his track record of hurling personal insults at journalists. After being accused of plagiarism – for using verbatim content without attribution to the journalists who actually wrote the sentences for the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and other outlets – Domenech canceled himself and resigned before he could be fired. 

He later told the New York Times he apologized and said “he never ‘purposefully’ plagiarized but [he] admitted that some passages in his articles were identical to those previously published elsewhere.” He also blamed his editorial staff and his notes. 

Despite this record, Domenech continued working for the right-wing Regnery Publishing house, and he then got a job with the Heartland Institute, a climate denial group that has been funded by oil companies and dark money conduits. At Heartland, Domenech’s job was to attack President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was also opposed by Big Tobacco, an industry that has funded Heartland. Domenech publicly criticized the ACA by claiming it would hurt tobacco smokers. 

Then, in 2013, Domenech helped launch The Federalist, whose few known funders include Heartland donor Dick Uihlein.

  1. The Federalist Is Funded by Billionaires and Secret Donors

The Federalist has never publicly disclosed its major funders. Its current editor-in-chief, Mollie Hemingway, has referred to questions about the publication’s funders as a “clear, coordinated attempt to silence the Federalist . . . it’s kind of a veiled threat.” 

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that The Federalist has published articles titled “In Defense of Dark Money.” 

Tax filings by some foundations have provided a glimpse of some of its funders, but such disclosures by non-profit foundations do not mean it has no other corporate or major individual donors.   

The Uihlein Fortune. The New York Times first revealed that Uihlein was a funder of The Federalist in August 2020. According to its 2019 tax records, the FDRLST Media Foundation took in $799K in 2019, and sent $150K to FDRLST Media, LLC. Of that $799K, $649K is accounted for as coming from two sources: Uihlein and DonorsTrust, which Mother Jones has called the “dark money ATM” of the right.

Uihlein and his wife, Elizabeth Uihlein, own the multi-billion dollar shipping and supply company ULINE, which they started with financial support from his dad, a wealthy industrialist.

The Uihleins are prolific Republican mega-donors. In 2015 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote that the Uihleins were “quickly becoming the Koch brothers of Wisconsin politics.” During the 2016 election, Elizabeth Uihelin was named to the Trump victory committee. Since then the Uihleins’ national political spending profile has continued to grow, along with evidence that they are underwriting very controversial campaigns, such as attacks on public health measures to limit the spread of Covid-19. 

The Daily Beast also reported that Uihlein has been a major source of funding for groups pushing Trump’s “Big Lie.” According to that tallya Uihlein family foundation gave more than $4 million “to groups affiliated with efforts to overturn the election and other acts of far-right extremism.” Groups that it has funded include the Federalist Society, which Leonard Leo helps lead. 

Uihlein money has also supported groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center designated “hate groups,” such as the Center for Security Policy, which is led by Frank Gaffney. (Notably, Gaffney’s Center paid Ginni Thomas at least $100K, as detailed by Mayer in the New Yorker, and Gaffney was one of the recipients of Ginni’s “Impact Awards” at the first gala of United in Purpose–along with Leo and others.) 

The Bradley Fortune. The Bradley Foundation, a large-scale funder of right-wing groups with assets of nearly $1 billion, also gave the FDRLST Media Foundation $125K in 2021. That same year the foundation also gave The Federalist editor and board member Mollie Hemingway a“Bradley Prize,” which includes a $250K gift.

In 2017, internal documents showed that Bradley was engaged in a national effort to seed right-wing “infrastructure.” Notably, Cleta Mitchell – who is now famous for helping to promote Trump’s Big Lie – also sits on Bradley’s board. As True North Research has detailed, Bradley secretly coordinated with Leo to fund amicus briefs prepared by the Judicial Education Project in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Other Foundation Funders. The Thomas W. Smith Foundation gave $150K to the FDRLST Media Foundation in 2019. It gives to right-wing groups and, as Judd Legum reported, it has been one of the key funders of groups driving the anti-“Critical Race Theory” campaigns being promoted by the right-wing.

The George E. Coleman Foundation also invested in FDRLST Media LLC in 2017, as first uncovered by Andrew Perez. According to the most recent tax filings available, this investment was worth $237K at the end of 2018. That foundation also gave money to the Council for National Policy (CNP), DonorsTrust, the Federalist Society, and other right-wing operations. Daniel Oliver, a CNP member and regular contributor to the Federalist, is the foundation’s listed trustee, with Alan Dye listed as its address. 

Legal Structure. It appears that The Federalist is owned at least in part by a private company by the name of FDRLST Media, LLC, which was incorporated in Delaware in 2016. As a private, for-profit enterprise FDLRST is not required to reveal its funding structure. 

In 2017, FDRLST Media LLC filed records with the FCC that listed Real Clear’s John McIntyre as a director, and the organization’s address was the same as Real Clear Politics. The Real Clear Foundation has received large amounts of funding from Uihlein, the Bradley Foundation, and the Thomas W. Smith Foundation as well as large sums from DonorsTrust. 

Also affiliated with The Federalist is the FDRLST Media Foundation, which was registered in 2018 by Alan Dye, a lawyer for CNP, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and many other right-wing groups. In March 2019, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) first published documents that show the FDRLST Media Foundation received 501(c)(3) status. The foundation shares some of the same funding sources as the Real Clear Foundation, and The Federalist’s Hemingway is on the board of the FDRLST Media Foundation. 

The Bottom Line. The funding amounts from foundations described here do not likely account for sufficient revenues needed to pay the 15 staffers or compensate the more than two dozen contributing writers listed on The Federalist’s website.

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