The Right's Top 25 Journalists

From Instapundit and Laura Ingraham to O’Reilly and Beck, Tunku Varadarajan counts down the most influential right-wing media figures in the country.

25. Caitlin Flanagan

Columnist, The Atlantic

Flanagan, the author of lively and beguiling essays on marriage and the family, believes that an intact, two-parent family is the gold standard for raising children. Parents, in her view, “have a moral responsibility to shield their children from the many aspects of our common culture that are over-sexualized and generally meretricious.” Her advocacy is not combative, however, and has a Californian languor that distinguishes it from the more adamant brands of social conservatism.

MARK LENNIHAN

24. Mary O'Grady

Columnist, The Wall Street Journal

O’Grady’s “Americas” column is not merely the best column devoted exclusively to Latin America in the American media; it is the only one. A robust libertarian, she is both admired and feared in Latin American chanceries in Washington—as well as in various presidential palaces in the southern continent. Her blunt-spoken columns on the coup in Honduras have been particularly critical of the Obama administration.

Courtesy of cfact.tv

23. Marc Morano

Editor, ClimateDepot.com

A bombastic foe of the Greens, and of the notion of global warming in general, Morano is a former spokesman for James Inhofe, the Republican senator for Oklahoma. His truculent Web site is a bustling, one-stop-shop for climate skeptics.

JD Lasica / www.socialmedia.biz

22. Glenn Reynolds

Editor, Instapundit

Reynolds, a law professor, is an accomplished curator of opinion on his Web site, Instapundit. In highlighting trends or ideas—often accompanied by piquant little commentaries of his own—he is a deft provider of daily political talking points for the right. Pundits on the right clamor for links on his much-read Web site.

John Moore / Getty Images

21. Laura Ingraham

Radio host and blogger

Although her attention-seeking mien might suggest otherwise, Ingraham is regarded as an insightful commentator on political matters by many on the right. In keeping with the shrill ways of modern punditry, however, dialogue with the other side is not her shtick. She is a cleverer version of Ann Coulter, with whom she is often compared.

20. Joseph Rago

Editorial writer, The Wall Street Journal

Only in his mid-20s, Rago is the precocious workhorse of Paul Gigot, the Journal’s editorial page editor, and has written the first drafts of virtually all of the Journal’s many critical, and influential, editorials on Obamacare. What wonders will this young man produce when he “grows up”?

19. Mark Steyn

Freelance writer

There is no penman more acerbic, and more consistently contemptuous of politically correct pieties, than the ungovernable Steyn. He is not known to have written a dull column in his entire life, and is a man so versatile as to range from theater reviews for the New Criterion to polemics on Iraq for National Review.

AP Photo

18. Nick Gillespie

Editor in chief, Reason.com

A former editor of Reason magazine, the clear-headed, brainy Gillespie is among the foremost libertarians in America. He is as often at odds with conservative mules as he is with liberals. That, of course, is the libertarian way, but Gillespie manages, always, to do it with a style that eludes less-gifted journalists.

Courtesy of AEI

17. Michael Barone

Senior political analyst, Washington Examiner

Old-fashioned, and delightfully pedantic, Barone knows more about psephology—the science of election analysis—than any other American journalist. A regular commentator on Fox News, his courtly ways offer a contrast to that channel’s other interlocutors.

Getty Images

16. Caroline Baum

Columnist, Bloomberg News

If there’s a columnist they read every week both on Wall Street and at the Fed, it’s Baum, whose uncluttered U-of-Chicago monetarism is the one consistently high-class feature of Bloomberg’s erratic Opinion stable. There’s a fierce, but attractive, blue-stocking quality to her prose, and she has been one of the more effective critics of those in Washington who would resurrect Keynes as an economic icon.

Bryan Bedder / Getty Images

15. Neil Cavuto

Anchor, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network

Cavuto is the closest that a Fox News Channel anchor gets to being fair and balanced, and is a shrewd reader of political and business trends. There isn’t a man on TV who understands Wall Street better than he does, and who is better able to turn market abstruseness into comprehensible sound bites.

George Bridges / Newscom

14. George Will

Columnist, The Washington Post

The eminence grise of conservative opinion-makers, Will is consistently more eloquent and acute—not to mention more humane—than any other columnist on the right. His creed: Do not make an argument if you cannot make it elegantly, and honestly.

13. Erick Erickson

Editor in chief, RedState.com

Punchy and in-your-face, Erickson puts out RedState.com, which boasts that it is the “most widely read right-of-center blog on Capitol Hill,” an assertion that few would choose to dispute. His blog is not for the faint of heart, and is all the more compelling for that.

12. Gerard Baker

Deputy editor in chief, The Wall Street Journal

Many Journal reporters say, and not without some consternation, that Baker is responsible for the rightward drift of the Journal’s news coverage. A former London Times man, he is editor in chief Robert Thompson’s capo, and has been entrusted with the task of remaking the Journal’s newsroom to a reliably Murdochian recipe.

Haraz N. Ghanbari / AP Photo

11. Andrew Breitbart

Editor, Breitbart.com

One of the few names that appeared on the list of every single person canvassed by The Daily Beast for this feature, Breitbart epitomizes the new breed of media player. His influential site aggregates news that conservatives could use, and he is a cult figure among Tea Party folks, whose recent convention he addressed.

Evan Agostini / Getty Images

10. Matt Drudge

Editor, The Drudge Report

Although this onetime maverick is now an institution, Drudge has lost none of his zest for gleeful provocation, particularly when it comes to news—or rumors—that might prove embarrassing to liberal politicians. If a story is “on Drudge,” one can be certain that it will swiftly make its way into the national conversation.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

9. James Taranto

Editor, Best of the Web Today, The Wall Street Journal

Celebrated raucously in “movement conservative” circles, the genial Taranto writes the best conservative daily blog in America. Mischievous, humorous, and wickedly incisive, his “Best of the Web Today” is approaching the 10th anniversary of its existence, making it one of the longest-running blogs in the world.

Newscom

8. Sean Hannity

Host, The Sean Hannity Show, Fox News Channel

Hannity makes up for what he lacks in wit and nuance by drawing from his seemingly bottomless well of energy and self-belief. He is a conservative media pillar: very sturdy, and, it has to be said, very predictable.

Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images

7. David Brooks

Columnist, The New York Times

Brooks has the thankless job of writing a conservative op-ed column in The New York Times, which ensures that he offends both left and right alike—the former simply because he’s conservative; the latter because he seems to water down his conservatism to make himself palatable to liberal readers. The poor man can’t win; but he’s still the one conservative most likely to be read by President Obama.

Newscom

6. Michelle Malkin

Columnist and blogger

Fearsomely combative, Malkin is a conservative columnist who minces no words and takes no prisoners. Although there is little nuance in her writing, there is never a shortage of conviction. Those who provoke her ire are addressed with an aggression that borders on the bellicose.

Charles Sykes / AP Photo

5. Bill O'Reilly

Host, The O’Reilly Show, Fox News Channel

O’Reilly, an anchor who has turned blowing hard into an art form, is reliably—and relentlessly—omniscient. His paint-by-numbers conservatism can be off-putting even to those who share many of his beliefs, but every now and then he has his finger perfectly on the pulse of the nation. And then he’s unstoppable.

William B. Plowman / AP Photo

4. Peggy Noonan

Columnist, The Wall Street Journal

Noonan writes arguably the best op-ed column in America, and hers is a folksy conservatism that can appeal even to those who would not be caught dead reading the Journal’s editorial page. Inevitably, her non-doctrinaire methods antagonize the more ideological conservatives. A former Reagan speechwriter, she can turn a phrase as beautifully as Katarina Witt could pirouette on an ice rink.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

3. Rush Limbaugh

Host, The Rush Limbaugh Show

The primordial conservative media strongman, Limbaugh is a legend, feted as avidly by his fans as he is reviled by his detractors. Are his powers waning? Some would say so; we do not.

AP Photo

2. Glenn Beck

Host, The Glenn Beck Program, Fox News Channel

The new Rush Limbaugh? Not quite. Beck will never arouse quite the same levels of indignation among his opponents as Limbaugh does; but he has grown, in the blink of an eye, into an icon of the American right, many of whom describe television as “BB” and “AB”—Before Beck, and After Beck.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

1. Paul Gigot

Editorial page editor, The Wall Street Journal

An intensely private man, Gigot is arguably the most influential conservative journalist that many Americans have not heard of. Master of his domain—the editorial page of the Journal—he puts out an unsigned daily editorial column that has all of the intellectual heft and political ingenuity that the Republicans, in their battle with the Obama administration, lack so embarrassingly. As was the case under his predecessor, Robert Bartley, Gigot’s is the only editorial column that actually sells newspapers.