Most Influential in Media 2017


65. Lawrence O’Donnell

STOP THE HAMMERING! Okay, so yeah — there was that one, tiny bit of viral infamy for the Last Word host in 2017 after a tipster sent us the clip. But this list recognizes the most influential in media for the year. And if Lawrence O’Donnell were not so influential, then the eight-minute clip of him going off on his staff would not have had nearly the impact that it did on the zeitgeist. Indeed, MSNBC has found its man at 10 p.m, and the ratings bear that out. We’re inclined to call Phil Griffin…and tell him what a fine job we think O’Donnell has done. (JD)

64. Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper is the staple primetime anchor and face of CNN. When he isn’t moderating eight-person panels, he’s questioning White House and administration officials during lengthy interviews. He’ll bring light snark, some sass, and even an eye- roll or two if something doesn’t pass his personal smell test. From his numerous, combative tussles with White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway to his recent confrontations with Roy Moore surrogates, many sit-downs with Cooper ends up becoming news. (JW)


63. Martin Baron

The Washington Post Executive Editor has shepherded his paper’s coverage in a phenomenal manner in 2017. With the financial — and perhaps philosophical — support of Amazon mogul (and richest man in the world) Jeff Bezos, Baron has successfully turned WaPo in a digital-first outlet without sacrificing its legacy qualities as a top-shelf newspaper. The Post has been a scoop factory in 2017 with many of the biggest stories of the year coming from its reporters, leading many on both sides of the political aisle to cite the venerable publication as much this past year as ever. (CH)


62. Harris Faulkner

Fox News dayside programming has been something of a breeding ground for primetime talent, and Harris Faulkner’s increased presence in hosting Outnumbered, and now Outnumbered Overtime that follows, gives Faulkner a full two hours at midday on the highest-rated cable news network. Faulkner strikes a calming balance between the sort of voicey opinion programs that get the big numbers and providing an even keel anchoring opinion-based debates. We expect big things from Faulkner at Fox News as her star is rising. (CH)


61. Willie Geist

Dedicated viewers of Morning Joe will be familiar — and, likely, enamored — with Willie Geist, the regular co-host of MSNBC’s flagship breakfast show. He’s long been known to offer a polished yet insightful take on Joe & Mika’s impassioned monologues. Geist also took the reins at NBC’s hour-long Sunday Today show last year, which consistently offers strong interviews with everyone from celebrities to titans of industry. And morning television just might be the perfect format for Geist: he’s equally formidable at delivering a witty deadpan as he is mercilessly grilling an evasive politician on Morning Joe. (AM)


60. John Avlon

The Daily Beast editor-in-chief and CNN political analyst has long been a name known in political and media circles, dating back to his time as Rudy Giuliani’s speechwriter. Besides steering one of the more influential online media outlets in the country, John Avlon is also a trusted, grounded and welcome voice on CNN (and Bill Maher) panels. While eschewing hard partisan tribalism for a more centrist approach, Avlon has still been one of the most vociferous Trump critics in this new world. The Daily Beast continues to thrive with Avlon at the helm. (JB)


59. Jeanine Pirro

If you have the ear of President Donald Trump, you are a critical media voice. The Justice with Judge Jeanine host has the ear of said President. And so she is, without question, a critical media voice. Judge Jeanine’s opinions can border on zany at times, but her show’s opening statement, usually somewhere around eight minutes long, might well be the most entertaining segment on cable news each weekend. (JD)


58. Gretchen Carlson

Gretchen Carlson has gone from former Fox News anchor to being credited as one of the drivers of the #MeToo movement. She has been vocal all year about sexual harassment everywhere from the workplace to the Oval Office, and has not shied away from weighing in on some of the news from her old network When Time Magazine announced the “Silence Breakers” for Person of the Year, some people in media lamented how Carlson was not included. Let’s be clear, without Carlson, the #MeToo movement might not have been a story for another year. (JF)


57. Ari Melber

Ari Melber has the rare combination of a sharp legal mind and the natural curiosity that can evoke the most meaningful insights from guests. 2017 was the year that saw Melber go from the longtime replacement host for vacationing primetime hosts on MSNBC to finally getting his own show at 6 PM. The MSNBC host has been regularly holding Trump’s feet to the legal fire. That has led to an uptick in ratings from the failed Greta Van Susteren experiment which suggests that Melber will be on for some time to come.  (CH)


56. Van Jones

Considered by many as a fan favorite on CNN, Van Jones can make any panel a lively one. He often has harsh criticisms for President Trump, but he also offered equally tough words for the Democratic Party from time to time post-election. What makes this pundit stand out from many in the cable news landscape, however, is his effort to try and understand Trump voters, people he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with practically at all. And what’s refreshing about Jones is his several calls for unity and urging both parties to find common ground. No one should be surprised that he has a new show on CNN now. (JW)


NEXT PAGE: See who made the cut for our #55-46 selections!

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