Most Influential in Media 2017


5. Rachel Maddow

When it comes to MSNBC prime time, there is Maddow. .  and then everyone else. The 9 PM MSNBC break out star has successfully positioned herself as a leading voice (and perhaps the leading voice) of “The Resistance” — thanks to her meticulously crafted and considered monologues, often topping 20 minutes in length. It takes real time and intellect to write those thought-provoking political sermons which frequently manage to cast the events of the day in a completely different light. There have been the occasional misfires, but when Bill O’Reilly was forced out of the top spot on the cable news food chain, the MSNBC star made the most of her opportunity in 2017. Now Maddow is currently locked in a neck-and-neck battle with Sean Hannity for primetime cable news ratings supremacy. (LB)

4. Matt Drudge

The conservative news aggregator has truly built an empire — with an influence that somehow never wanes. Never was that more evident than when he got into a public spat with the Washington Post this year. The Post, on Nov. 10, published an article criticizing the Drudge Report for regularly linking to sites like InfoWars, RT, and Sputnik News. Drudge, in response, Tweeted that his site alone is responsible for more than a third of the Washington Post’s referral traffic. We have no way of knowing if that number is accurate but we do know from personal experience that the Drudge link is still as powerful and influential as ever. When Drudge Report and Matt Drudge speak, politicos listen whether they like it or not. (JB)

3. Sean Hannity

Judge purely by the amount of time spent communicating with the leader of the free world, there has been no single media personality more influential than Sean Hannity this year. The highly controversial Fox News host – and indefatigable defender of President Donald Trump – reportedly speaks with the President many nights via telephone after he wraps his highest-rated program on all of cable news (which recently returned to the 9 PM slot.) Hannity’s program has not been without controversial conspiracies which have led him to be mocked and disparaged by many in the media and Inside-the-Beltway cocktail circuit. But for a guy who seems more comfortable outside the velvet rope than inside, those sorts of insults just inspire him, and his base, to fight back even more fiercely. (CH)

2. Jeff Zucker

Of all President Donald Trump’s media targets, perhaps no outlet has endured more of his unbridled fury than CNN, the network helmed by Jeff Zucker. And Zucker has refused to back down from the fight. Despite the president’s “fake news” attacks, CNN has delivered strong reporting and coverage this year, while handling mistakes swiftly and thoroughly. With the demise of Roger Ailes, there is also no other news leader with more single influence and power than Zucker. Unlike at other outlets, where the hosts are more powerful than the executives, Zucker makes the calls and the talent listen. (AM)

1. Fox & Friends Co-hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade


The President of the United States regularly starts his day watching Fox & Friends and then tweets about whatever they cover, and however, they cover it. He promotes their show, tags them by name, and sings their praises. That alone makes Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Ainsley Earhardt three of the most influential media people not just in the United States, but in the entire world. Since they have captured the President’s attention – which often then gets tweeted and covered by the media – the topics they cover essentially set the national agenda for the rest of the day. That is influence like few other media figures have ever enjoyed. (JF)

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