The Rebel Media has to learn that appealing to the masses does not mean an appeal to racists or xenophobes.
When Ezra Levant and Brian Lilley created Rebel Media in 2015 their goal was to create a conservative commentary site similar to their American counterpart Glenn Beck’s The Blaze. Their idea was to have “straight talk and hard news”, free from the “oppressive chains of mainstream media.”
Two years later and with a significant fan base and following, just like with anything tied to controversy, their road to success has become bumpy. The biggest of these bumps have been their controversial covering of the recent Charlotteville rally.
Faith Goldy, a journalist for Rebel Media, while covering the white nationalist rally spoke sympathetically of the movement referring to the protesters as “Patriots.” Although stating later that she did not endorse any white nationalist agenda, she did support ralliers during the proceedings.
The Rebel Media, an organization built on conservative values, found a fan base from its politically incorrect commentaries, borrowing much from the talking points of the Alt Right. Yet with the Charlottesville rally highlighting the ugliness of the movement, attachment to any faction of the Alt Right would undoubtedly compromise the legitimacy of any media organization.
The legitimacy of the Rebel Media hangs in the balance as more and more people distance themselves from the organizations including the advertisers who have been pulling out the ads for the past three months. Many commentators and contributors to the media company have quit including co-founder Brian Lilley, who explained his decision to leave by “the lack of editorial and behavioral judgment”.
This statement sums up Rebel’s involvement with the Alt-Right and organizations and figures akin to it. Any continued dialogue with those who have been proven to have a racist narrative or expose overtly prejudiced rhetoric would mean the end of the Rebel Media.
Many in Canada’s own government have taken note of the situation. Alberta’s government has called on the newly created United Conservative Party to condemn the media company, with one leadership contender saying that he was “tired of conservative politicians playing footsie with this organization”. Andrew Sheer himself, the Conservative party leader, stated that he would not grant any interview to Rebel Media as long as the organization continued in the direction it was in.
So the question remains if the Rebel Media can continue despite the association with the Alt Right?
The site built itself around the idea of uncensored news and conservative commentary designed to make controversy or at the very least stir up intrigue. Continuing this format without engaging with racists or white nationalists would not be hard to do. But if the organization continues to associate itself with people who are racists or gives an agenda sympathetic to any extremist movement it will find itself in ruin.
The Rebel Media could have a place in legitimate Canadian political coverage. Conservatism and the Alt Right are separate subjects, and the Rebel Media should recognize this as it continues to operate. Establishing itself as legitimate is much more important than espousing edgy doctrine. Rebel Media has to learn that appealing to the masses does not mean an appeal to racists or xenophobes. Many Canadians are Conservatives. Many are accepting and tolerant. The Rebel should take note of that.
The Rebel Media has to learn that appealing to the masses does not mean an appeal to racists or xenophobes. Many Canadians are Conservatives. Many are accepting and tolerant. The Rebel should take note of that.