Mediaite’s 5 Most Influential in Political News Media 2015


#5 – Dean Baquet


When you run The New York Times, you immediately have enormous influence. When the Times becomes as political as it has in recent years, you also become one of the biggest political players in the country. Dean Baquet, the Pulitzer-prize winning Executive Editor for the paper, has been weathering stormy political seas regarding everything from coverage of Hillary Clinton to Israel. His decision not to reprint the Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad created a national controversy and despite the lofty perch of the Executive Editor title, Baquet can still take the gloves off. This year he called a USC Professor on Facebook an “asshole” in a vigorous, and very public, debate on that very decision. [image via screengrab]

#4 – Matt Drudge


Matt Drudge is probably the person on this list that our readers personally know the least about, and that’s likely more than fine for the long time conservative-leaning news aggregator whose wildly successful Drudge Report continues to have a large-scale impact on American politics and media. Aside from the rare appearance at something like a Republican debate, Drudge goes largely unseen, but his impact on national politics remains undeniable. A story just becoming a Drudge headline often becomes news in and of itself. It is still safe to say that almost everyone in media checks Drudge at some point. By all accounts, Drudge seemed to also have originated that whole bizarre Leo-DiCaprio-got-raped-by-a-bear-in-The-Revenant rumor that basically broke the internet for a while so if THAT doesn’t scream influence than we really don’t know what does. [image via Twitter]

#3 – Jeff Zucker


It’s got to be sweet justice for Jeff Zucker to see his success and influence skyrocket after a not-so-sweet separation from his long time employer NBC Universal. CNN suddenly finds itself in a comfortable second place in all of cable news after surpassing a beleaguered MSNBC, and primed to be a major a player as any for the 2016 presidential election. With their debates and political coverage bringing in record numbers, it is hard not to singularly credit Jeff Zucker for that incredible turnaround. CNN has shown the most growth of any cable news network under his tenure and even its morning show now has surpassed MSNBC’s Morning Joe. To his credit, Zucker also managed to fire off a pretty good retort to the Bernie Sanders claim that the Senator could do a better job as CNN President. [image via CNN]

#2 – Chuck Todd


By sheer virtue of the fact that arguably no one is on television more to discuss politics than Chuck Todd, he is close to the top of our list of the most influential in political media. In addition to weekly hosting duties for the venerable Meet The Press, Todd makes appearances all over MSNBC and NBC News almost every day to discuss the latest from the campaign trails and the 2016 election. In September the network announced that Todd would also host MTP Daily, providing a sort of Beltway nerdism that makes the day’s important stories both enjoyable but also insanely informative. Todd is no exception to many on this list who show equal-opportunity-grilling chops and is respected on both sides of the political aisle. He has had several well-recorded run-ins with Donald Trump this year, and also grew visibly frustrated with Obama-appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently. [image via screengrab]

#1 – Roger Ailes

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Undisputed top dog for our list? Roger Ailes. Again. The Chairman and CEO oversees the Fox News machine that continues to dominate cable news viewership and has remained arguably the most important channel for conservative viewers. The boss has found himself in the somewhat public position of discussing (debating?) the network’s coverage with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump this year, and Ailes even had to angle himself in the feud between Trump and Fox favorite Megyn Kelly. While some may argue that cable ratings aren’t as dominating as they once were, Fox News is still a powerhouse––they end 2015 as the second-most-watched basic cable network in primetime and third-most in total-day viewership––and Roger Ailes is still firmly the massively successful force behind it. He remains the most influential person in political news media today. [image via Fox News]

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