Institute of Politics

Steve Hayes

CEO & Editor of The Dispatch & NBC News Political Analyst

  • Fall 2022 Pritzker Fellow

  • Seminar Series: "Crisis of Noise: Information, Media & the Modern American Right"


Stephen F. Hayes is CEO and Editor of The Dispatch, a fact-driven conservative digital media company he started with Jonah Goldberg in 2019, and an NBC News political analyst. He is the author of two New York Times best sellers: The Connection: How al Qaeda’s Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America and Cheney: The Untold Story of America’s Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President.

Hayes worked at The Weekly Standard magazine for nearly two decades, first as a writer and eventually as editor-in-chief. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Reason, National Review and many other publications. Hayes has written extensively about national politics, international affairs and the country’s current political leadership.

Hayes spent 12 years as a Fox News contributor, featured prominently in the network’s coverage of Supreme Court nominations, major presidential speeches, and primary and general election nights. Before joining Fox, Hayes was part of CNN’s “Best Political Team on Television,” which won a Peabody Award for its coverage of the 2008 elections. He is a regular panelist on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Hayes is a native of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, and a graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He studied public policy at Georgetown University and received an MS from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He previously worked as a senior writer at National Journal’s Hotline and as director of The Fund for American Studies’ Institute on Political Journalism at Georgetown University. He lives in rural Maryland with his wife and four children.


“Crisis of Noise: Information, Media & the Modern American Right”

Conservative complaints about the media are nothing new. Even before Spiro Agnew’s famous speech attacking the media in 1969, politicians and activists on the right grumbled about establishment outlets and sought to circumvent their filters. But options were limited. And the dominant outlets would dominate for decades to come.

Fifty years later, it’s a different world. There are countless alternatives to the New York Times and the Washington Post, to ABC News and CNN. A powerful right-wing media establishment rivals the legacy media in its ability to shape the national political conversation. Elected Republicans are often more inclined to give interviews to Breitbart or Newsmax or Steve Bannon’s WarRoom podcast than Politico or the Wall Street Journal. And with a vast constellation of smaller right-wing outlets - podcasts, newsletters, websites - it sometimes feels as though there are as many different information sources as there are information consumers.

The differences between legacy media and right-wing outlets are not just ideological, they’re often journalistic. Many outlets on the right - including several of the most influential - prioritize opinion over reporting, speed over accuracy, outrage over explanation, affirmation over information. These changes bring with them profound effects on our understanding of politics, even our perceptions of reality.

We will explore the evolution of conservative media over the past sixty years, with special attention to the acceleration of change over the past twenty years. How does the speed of information affect our understanding of politics and governance? What are the economic incentives of the new journalism? Do most news consumers want to be informed or to have their views affirmed? With politicians, parties and interest groups creating their own distribution channels, what is the future of campaigning? Who are the gatekeepers and what’s their function?

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