25. Megyn Kelly
Imagine a news anchor not currently on television, who the media still seems completely obsessed with covering. Therein lies the influence of Megyn Kelly. She has probably been on more magazine covers than any other news person in America in 2018, and finding a journalist like Kelly viewed by both sides with equal doses of fear and respect isn’t easy these days. In 2018, when not hosting Megyn Kelly Today, she was tapped by NBC to interview heavyweights like Russian President Vladimir Putin. Her blackface gaffe gave NBC the excuse they were looking for to end her show, and while she has taken a beating in the media, count her out at your own peril.
24. Andrew Napolitano
Thanks mostly to the Mueller probe, the media’s coverage of politics has become more legally-focused than ever. On cable news, the daily torrent of indictments, subpoenas and plea deals requires sharp legal punditry that is unafraid to call balls and strikes despite the political impact. Enter Judge Andrew Napolitano, provider of keen and often unpredictable legal analysis on Fox. Many of the programs that “Judge Nap” appears on feature a decidedly pro-Trump point of view. And with ever-growing legal woes dogging the president, his cabinet and family members, one might expect Fox’s legal analyst to sugarcoat things at times. Not Napolitano, who provides his audience with the tough pills and important legal context. In an era of balkanized media consumption, using one’s considerable expertise to advance fact-based analysis ahead of what people want to hear, is rare — and a thrill to watch. He also just scored a new show on streaming platform Fox Nation, Liberty File.
23. Andy Lack
Andy Lack, the chairman of NBC and MSNBC, has led the news organization through a tumultuous year. Just overseeing those two entities makes Lack a major influencer and he would likely be higher on this list but for scrutiny over his handling of sexual misconduct claims against certain marquee stars as well as criticism over Ronan Farrow’s aborted Harvey Weinstein investigation. Yet despite those controversies, NBC and MSNBC surged in 2018, boasting massive ratings thanks to its staple shows — and a few new ones — making a splash.
22. Alisyn Camerota & John Berman
Alisyn Camerota and John Berman are a force to be reckoned with as the anchors of CNN’s flagship morning show. When Chris Cuomo left to move to primetime this year, it allowed Camerota to truly shine and she has delivered as the lead player of the breakfast program. The addition of Berman — a solid newsman with a sense of humor — has been a breath of fresh air. Together, the pair delivers stellar news coverage and some of the best interviews on television. Throw in John Avlon‘s impressively compelling “Reality Check” segments and New Day is the top place to help viewers start their day with the news, free from overt partisan spin.
21. Abby Huntsman, Joy Behar, Meghan McCain, Sunny Hostin & Whoopi Goldberg of The View
The View and its hosts have long been major players in the entertainment world and tangential players in the political world. Yet in the last two years, the show and its hosts have become a serious part of the political debate in this country. The fireworks between increasingly outspoken house conservative Meghan McCain and always outspoken liberal Joy Behar have made the show even more prominent in 2018. With Whoopi Goldberg in the driver’s seat and often backed up by attorney Sunny Hostin, the show has long had a left-leaning bend. But the addition of Abby Huntsman — a former Fox News star and the daughter of a U.S. ambassador — has created more of a balance, making the show one neither conservatives nor liberals can write off. It has truly become a must-go show for politicians, for tell-all authors, for those on an apology tour and more. If you move and shake, it’s becoming increasingly clear you need to do it on The View at some point.
20. Brian Stelter
Brian Stelter, CNN’s media arbiter and host of Reliable Sources, is now almost certainly the most influential media critic in the country. Conservatives will recoil at that characterization since he’s a frequent target of the right, many of whom argue that he is neither fair nor balanced. That he is often the top subject of their ire proves his relevance. Stelter’s Sunday slot just after the morning shows puts him in a unique position for driving the conversation. There are few hotter topics in the modern political environment than the clash between media and the administration in power, and few outlets more at the center of that than CNN. And on TV’s biggest politics day, CNN’s media critic is right in the middle of the storm. No doubt it will grow more turbulent as 2020 approaches and you can bet that Stelter will be there to weather it.
19. Dean Baquet
As the executive editor of the New York Times, Dean Baquet is at the helm of what might be the most influential paper in the country. In 2018, the Times earned a Pulitzer Prize for their groundbreaking reporting on Harvey Weinstein, yet the paper was not without at least one high-profile critic. The newsroom has been a frequent target for President Donald Trump’s Twitter jabs, especially in response to their seemingly endless hard-hitting investigative pieces and op-eds that revealed a bit too much about Trump-world in the past year for the commander in chief’s liking. The paper’s reporting is of the highest quality in news, and booming subscription revenue is a sign Baquet is doing something right.
18. Jeanine Pirro
Jeanine Pirro has become an unabashed and unwavering pro-Trump voice on Fox News. In 2018, that stance paid off with top ratings for her weekend program. Earlier in the year, she landed a coveted one-on-on with the President of the United States, who took time to laud her show. Then, in October, Trump called in to her show again. Off the air, Pirro has also become a darling of the pro-Trump conservative set, giving the keynote address at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and pairing up with Trump Team 2020 to hold a book signing for her new best-selling book at a Trump Golf Resort. She’s one of the few who has the president’s ear, on and off the air. While her lengthy, liberal skewering show openers often border on the zany, Pirro has honed in on her target audience in 2018 and it is 100 percent pro-Trump.
17. Maggie Haberman
2018 was a big year for Maggie Haberman, the resident New York Times “Trump whisperer.” She’s perhaps the best sourced reporter on the White House beat, known for a constant stream of Oval Office scoops. Most recently, Maggie Haberman broke the bombshell on Donald Trump asking the DOJ about investigating Hillary Clinton and James Comey — a report some believe will be used as evidence in the special counsel’s investigation. Meanwhile, Haberman penned a first-person Times op-ed in July explaining that she “needed to pull back” from tweeting as it was causing too much anxiety, and her near-dormant account has been a loss for the journalism world. Her scoops, however, don’t seem to be going anywhere.
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