Hijacking Journalism: Legitimacy and Metajournalistic Discourse in Right-Wing Podcasts
Whereas personal expression has become a core practice of journalism whose merits can include greater attention to context and interpretative analysis, these freedoms from the constraints of traditional broadcast conventions can pose serious risks, including the ideological hijacking of journalism by partisan actors. In popular right-wing podcasts, such as those hosted by Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino, the element of opinion amplifies the tendency of the podcast medium to relegate news to a secondary concern behind the emotional impact. Not only do podcasters like Shapiro and Bongino contribute to a fractured media environment of hyper-partisan news and commentary, but they also utilize social media platforms and transmedia networks to undermine traditional journalism and replace it with an alternative conservative media ecosystem—a multiplatform, full-service clearinghouse of news and commentary afforded by the publishing capabilities of the internet and the distribution algorithms of social media platforms like Facebook. This study charts the evolution of conservative audio production, from the influential work of talk radio star Rush Limbaugh through the latest innovations by conservative podcasters, as exemplified by Shapiro and Bongino. Our study builds on previous scholarship on metajournalistic discourse to examine how right-wing podcasters use exclusionary language to delegitimize the institution of journalism and offer a self-contained, ideologically conservative version of journalism as a replacement.