The Federalist—which has nothing to do with the Federalist Society, an entirely different organization—is a right-wing online news site known for spreading conspiracy theories and staunchly supporting Trump. Based in Washington, D.C., the site was launched in September 2013 by Ben Domenech and Sean Davis. Domenech, a frequent contributor on Fox News, was hired by The Washington Post early in his career before being fired for plagiarism. He is now the publisher of The Federalist and host of The Federalist Radio Hour. Davis, who serves as CEO and still writes regularly for The Federalist, previously worked for then Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) as an economic policy advisor and for Sen. Tom Coburn (R- Okla.) as chief investigator.
The Federalist focuses on politics, law, and culture, as well as religion, abortion, and foreign policy. It is a project of FDRLST Media Foundation, a certified 501(c)(3) charity funded in part by GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein.
Although it was once in the “Never Trump” camp, The Federalist has published numerous stories and opinion pieces that paint the former president in a very positive light. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it spread disinformation and unfounded critiques of public health policies designed to control the spread of the virus. The site misrepresented vaccination strategies and claimed that face coverings are “not effective” at preventing the spread of the virus.
January 6, 2021
- The Federalist has published numerous articles attempting to undermine the credibility of the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection. The news site characterized the committee as an “appalling Stalinesque show-trial” in an effort to discredit witness Cassidy Hutchinson. The site also accused the committee of ignoring “clear evidence of mass illegal voting” and “systematically broken election laws.”
- On Jan. 7, 2022, The Federalist ran an article accusing “elites” of downplaying the danger of Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder while also exaggerating the severity of the Capitol insurrection.
The Big Lie
- Immediately after the 2020 election, The Federalist published unsupported claims of election fraud, which Twitter labeled with a cautionary warning. For instance, one piece it published said, “Yes, Democrats Are Trying To Steal The Election In Michigan, Wisconsin, And Pennsylvania” due to what it claimed were “vote counting irregularities.”
- In July 2021, Maria Bartiromo of Fox News interviewed Trump and referenced an article in The Federalist, which claimed that 35,000 votes in Georgia may have been illegal.
- In August 2021, The Federalist accused The New York Times of lying about pressure Trump placed on the Justice Department to declare the election corrupt. The Federalist wrote that Trump only asked the Justice Department to declare the election corrupt if it found credible evidence of fraud in Pennsylvania. However, Richard Donoghue, for acting deputy attorney general, later testified before the Jan. 6 committee that Trump was not interested in the results of an investigation but rather wanted Donoghue to declare the election corrupt.
- On Sept. 27, 2021, The Federalist published a story saying that the Arizona election audit found “potentially election-shifting numbers of illegal ballots” despite the fact that the audit revealed no fraud or malfeasance.
- The Federalist asserted despite evidence to the contrary that in Wisconsin “those tasked with administering the election willfully ignored and openly violated state law” and enough illegal ballots were counted to tip the election in Biden’s favor.