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Jim Hoft: Conservative Blogging Pioneer

Yesterday, I posted an article on the transformative effect that Joseph Farah, editor-in-chief of WorldNetDaily since 1997, had on the alternative news field. However, it was Jim Hoft, the head of The Gateway Pundit, who revolutionized political blogging.

Jim Hoft, who is a lifetime resident of St. Louis, Missouri, received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Loras College. He worked as a chemist and in human relations, managing hiring and firing along with training for a corporation, for several years.

Jim Hoft

Over the course of the 2004 presidential election, Hoft was disturbed by how virulently the mainstream media pounded George W. Bush, the Republican incumbent president. For example, in September 2004, Dan Rather of CBS News pushed falsified documents that put Bush’s military service in question.

Seeking an alternative to the hyper-liberalized news networks and papers, Hoft started reading conservative online blogs. He was refreshed by the fact that they told the other, more accurate side of the story about conservatives in general and Bush specifically.

The experience was truly transformative for Hoft. He describes how reading conservative blogs was “like reading a different language” than the coverage published by the liberal media. Hoft’s positive experiences with right-leaning journalism motivated him to launch his own venture.

Hoft started writing under The Gateway Pundit banner in November 2004, shortly after Bush was reelected to the presidency. The site’s original readers were Hoft’s friends and family, but he persisted – writing on a daily basis – until he was able to build a following.

In 2005, Hoft caught his big break when The Gateway Pundit’s tsunami coverage was heralded by blogger and columnist Michelle Malkin. She linked The Gateway Pundit to her blog, allowing for the growth of Hoft’s site.

In the years between The Gateway Pundit’s 2004 launch and the 2016 election cycle, Hoft developed a rapport and friendship with the late Andrew Breitbart and Breitbart's protégé, Steve Bannon. Hoft had a role in the production of Hating Breitbart, a 2012 documentary that presented Breitbart and his revolutionary new website, then called Big Journalism, to the world.

Hoft & Andrew Breitbart

In the process, Hoft was able to develop a great relationship with Steve Bannon, whom he describes as “class act”,” a “wonderful person,” and a “very close friend.” Bannon went on to become the executive chairman of Breitbart News after Breitbart’s 2012 death, which led to his eight-month stint as White House chief strategist.

Over its 13-year history, The Gateway Pundit has weathered immense criticism. For example, in 2010, Ben Dimiero posted a scathing editorial on Media Matters’ website, titled, “Jim Hoft: Dumbest Man on the Internet?”

Hoft responds to this negativity, which has also been advanced by mainstream publications like The New York Times, in stride. He describes how the growing influence of Breitbart and The Gateway Pundit, the latter of which was the 4th most influential conservative news source during the 2016 election season, causes the mainstream media to attempt hatchet jobs.

While Hoft doesn’t bend down when he is slammed by the mainstream media, he describes the attacks as “disgusting” because of the “respectable” matter in which The Gateway Pundit carries itself.

Steve Bannon with U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri)

In “Stronger,” Kelly Clarkson sang, “What doesn’t kill you makes you a fighter.” Hoft has exemplified this, standing resilient in his support for Trump during election season (even amid criticism from his closest friends). He describes how The Gateway Pundit, along with Breitbart, was one of the few pro-Trump fishes in a pond of anti-Trump media sources.

As a result of this early – and continued – support for the man that would become the nominee of the GOP, The Gateway Pundit’s popularity rocketed during the 2016 presidential election season. According to Media Matters, which Hoft describes as a “far-left organization,” Donald Trump retweeted The Gateway Pundit on two dozen occasions.

Hoft met Lucian Wintrich, who attracted notoriety when he was fired from his job after jumpstarting the Twinks for Trump movement, at a party at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Hoft was impressed with Wintrich, and he offered a job to the 29-year-old at The Gateway Pundit.

Upon the victory of Donald Trump, Hoft applied for press credentials from the Trump transition team. As a testament to The Gateway Pundit’s influence, Hoft and Wintrich were able to attain the passes on February 13, 2017. They now have full access to the White House press pen.

Hoft & Wintrich at the Press Secretary's podium at the White House

On top of reporting on the Trump administration, Hoft and Wintrich stated that they intend to “help drain the press swamp.” In the past nine months, The Gateway Pundit has carried through on that vow by publishing articles sharply critical of the mainstream media’s coverage of the Trump administration.

On January 19, 2017, Hoft was a speaker at DeploraBall, a gala where top Trump supporters gathered ahead of the president's inauguration. On April 29, 2017, Hoft hosted The Real News Correspondents’ Dinner, intended to provide an alternative to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. According to Hoft, the event was a gathering of “America’s real media” as it celebrated “the most successful first 100 days of any president in the last 100 years.”

As a result of his contributions to the field of alternative journalism, Hoft received the Reed Irvine Award for New Media on March 5, 2013 and the Breitbart Award for Excellence in Online Journalism on May 1, 2015. In the Trump era, Gateway Pundit readership rates remain steady with about 600,000 views a day.