Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN collectively broadcast the content most Americans use to guide their understanding of current events. However, these networks are gaining a reputation for content that suggests bias for the corporate and personal interests of their parent organizations.
As a result, media has become increasingly partisan; there are outlets perceived as “liberal” or “conservative” with little room to deviate from those classifications. However, there are news sources from both the left and the right that stray from what may be considered mainstream or typical—these outlets often present viewpoints that do not embrace the political establishment of either ideology.
Some publications that challenge political media norms have emerged more recently in the era of Trump. Just this year, a new outlet called The Bulwark was created by a group of journalists who previously wrote for the defunct Weekly Standard, a publication respected in conservative circles. They provide Trump-critical conservative journalism, something that has become harder to find.
The Bulwark considers itself to be a conservative publication that stands up to Trump and those who have enabled him. They are highly critical of media personalities like Laura Ingraham and Tomi Lahren as well as politicians like Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
The Bulwark’s criticism of Trump and his allies are more frequently criticisms of the manner in which these public figures conduct themselves. They call out King and Laura Ingraham for sympathizing with white supremacists and Tomi Lahren for her aggressive rhetoric and ardent defense of Donald Trump. The other major targets are those who have paved the way for Trump like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Its mission is to defend the “compassionate conservatism” of the late 20th century that they believe has been lost in Trump’s Republican Party.
The Bulwark also has a news aggregator, compiling headlines from varied niche sources. This shines light on other, lesser known organizations and amplifies messages outside of the mainstream echo chamber.
An embedded Twitter feed is also featured on the front page, tracking the highlights of journalists and political commentators on the site. Their dedication to giving a platform to relatively unknown voices makes The Bulwark different from most political outlets.
Other fringe media organizations are relatively established and have been operating for decades. Democracy Now! was founded in 1996 and has since made its way into both public and private radio and television broadcasts. It is widely regarded as left-leaning, yet the outlet has a more accurate fact checking record than mainstream contemporaries like MSNBC. While Democracy Now! often focuses on subjects that pander to a left-leaning audience like white supremacy and climate change, the reporting is historically factual.
The headlines do not always deviate from what is gracing more mainstream liberal outlets: there are discussions of the Mueller report, updates on Brexit and other relevant international affairs stories, as well as early coverage of the 2020 election. What is different is the critical view they take of the United States’ role in the world, often voicing opinions in foreign policy that differ from the neoliberal center of the Democratic Party.
According to the website, the core idea behind Democracy Now! is to maintain an independent media source free of influence from the government and corporations. Refusing government funding and corporate sponsorships is one unorthodox way the organization preserves the integrity of their journalism.
The style and content Democracy Now! offers is a liberal parallel to The Bulwark in their mutual resistance to the political mainstream. As the Democratic Party is pulled to the left by a more progressive wing, Democracy Now! has been an ally for progressive ideas. Throughout the 2016 primary Democracy Now! advocated for then presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and consistently denounced corporate media.
While both outlets still embrace the core values of their respective base ideologies, they are sharply critical of the forces they believe are corrupting those ideologies. This comes at a time where much of the media struggles to deliver criticism on both sides of the aisle, and many companies navigate influence from personal and/or corporate interests.