The dustup between The Daily Wire and Steven Crowder has gotten nasty, resulting in severed friendships and conflicts over tens of millions of dollars. However, as Jeff Dornik explains in this episode of The Jeff Dornik Show, there’s more to the story with massive implications for the future of the Conservative Movement.
Here’s my article from Substack that I discussed during the show:
Steven Crowder is causing a ruckus within Conservative Inc, or as he calls it… The Big Con. After leaving The Blaze, Crowder began fielding several offers to bring his wildly popular show, Louder with Crowder, to another conservative network.
During that time, The Daily Wire sent over an offer that turned out to blow up in their faces when Crowder took their term sheet public, exposing their alleged predatory terms, of which he was told was standard among their content creators.
According to the offer, if Louder with Crowder or Steven Crowder gets demonetized, deplatformed, gets a strike against them or advertisers pull out due to a boycott, Crowder gets dinged a significant percentage of his pay. To put it in context, he was being offered $50 million over 4 years, but that was for his entire production budget, not just a salary that’s going in his pocket. That means that, if Big Tech essentially censored him in any way, his entire production team is taking the hit, not just Crowder. Essentially, not only would he be getting punished by Big Tech, but also by The Daily Wire. They’d be enforcing the insane rules of these Social Media companies that they are supposed to be fighting against.
In each of his videos confronting these proposed terms for his contract, Crowder was very clear that this is not about money, but about fighting Big Tech. How can The Daily Wire, or any conservative network for that matter, take money from subscribers under the guise of fighting Big Tech, all while building their business model on Big Tech and enforcing their rules which disproportionally target conservatives.
The response from The Daily Wire was brutal, with practically the entire public team of Ben Shapiro, Jeremy Boering, Candace Owens and Matt Walsh coming out against Crowder, accusing him of just being about money. Shapiro called Crowder a “former friend” and Owens even called him a “b*tch.” This is standard procedure when the establishment crowd gets called out… instead of providing the winning argument, they make personal attacks, which is a deflection from the real issue.
Clearly Crowder struck a nerve, and forced The Daily Wire into attack mode.
So here’s my take on the whole thing… I’m not going to take sides in a personality war between Louder with Crowder and The Daily Wire. I used to be an avid listener of Ben Shapiro, I really thought that Matt Walsh’s documentary What is a Woman? and Candace Owens documentary on BLM were some of the best to come out in recent history, and I’ve really come to appreciate Michael Knowles as of late.
On the flip side, I haven’t been a regular listener to Steven Crowder… mostly because I just don’t have time to tune into a more “late night” style comedy show. However, I’ve really liked his Change My Mind segments, and I believe that is one of the strongest and most compelling ways a conservative influencer has engaged with opposing views.
My takeaway from this fight between these two organizations has less to do with who is involved from a personality standpoint, and more to what they represent.
One of my biggest critiques of The Daily Wire over the years is that they lead from behind. What do I mean by that? They never lead the charge on any particular issue. They wait until others forge the path, and then swoop in after the fact with millions of dollars behind them to get all the glory. That may sound harsh, but I’ve witnessed this time and time again.
Take, for example, Critical Race Theory. Chris Rufo and Karlyn Borysenko took arrows from all sides in the early days of exposing CRT. They rarely got the recognition they deserved until much later. The Daily Wire rarely, if ever, talked about this important issue, until the Establishment GOP began running with it as a wedge issue.
Same thing when it comes to transgenderism. When Big Tech was heavily censoring any critique of transgenderism as hate speech, The Daily Wire was not as vocal about the issue. However, once the fight was already underway, Matt Walsh came out with his documentary and immediately became seen as the leader of the anti-transgender movement.
Take even the fight against Cancel Culture. When Disney fired Gina Carano, Ben Shapiro and The Daily Wire jumped at the chance to sign her to a movie contract and ran with the PR campaign condemning cancel culture. What most forget, however, is that Shapiro fired Denise McAllister and had her cancelled within the Conservative Movement because of her opposition to homosexuality and adherence to traditional marriage. She literally cannot work… no major conservative outlet will allow her to write on their platform, nor will any conservative publisher sign her. She’s been canceled from those claiming to be opposed to cancel culture.
Then, more recently, you take a look at how they’ve handled Election Fraud… they’ve always sided with the mainstream media as ignoring the evidence of a rigged election and declaring that Trump fairly lost the election. When it came to covid and the “vaccines”, Ben Shapiro touted he expertise as the husband of a doctor and told people to get jabbed. It was only after they realized that their base was anti-vaxx that they began to challenge the mainstream narrative and really set their sights on Fauci.
As an metaphor, I see The Daily Wire as a representation of the Establishment GOP, while Steven Crowder is the America First Movement. Both The Daily Wire and the GOP are pushing for the status quo and playing with the swampy rules set by the Leftist Elites both in Silicon Valley and Washington DC. Steven Crowder and the America First Movement are more ideological and oppose the corruption that the establishment are cozying up to… hence the term, Drain the Swamp.
As the co-founders of Freedom First Network, JD Rucker and I set out to create a new model for a podcast network, one that gives a platform to those that we see whose voices need to be amplified, refusing to bow to Big Tech and finding new ways to drive traffic and views that completely bypass the attacks directed towards us from the mainstream media and social media companies. From this standpoint, we’ve built our company on a completely different foundation than The Daily Wire.
That’s not to say that The Daily Wire is all bad… they aren’t. But they are also not the foundation we need to save America. That foundation is going to be built by the more rogue thought leaders and content creators that will continually push the boundaries and find new and inventive ways to tackle the problems we face both as a Conservative Movement and as a country.
Don’t get distracted by the narrative that this fight between Steven Crowder and The Daily Wire is just over money. It’s not. This represents the direction our Conservative Movement will head in. Will it go more Establishment GOP or America First? Will it truly take on Big Tech or comply and enforce its censorship rules? This is a much more important and relevant debate than most even realize.
Watch the previous episode of The Jeff Dornik Show with Clay Clark and Seth Holehouse: