Who Funds the Daily Caller
The Daily Caller has proven highly profitable in large part due to its dubious funding arrangement. Most of its 50 reporters actually work for the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF), a non-profit tax-exempt entity. This 501(c)(3) generates most of the content published on the for-profit site. As a result, tax-deductible donations to the DCNF—$3 million in 2015, for example—subsidize the for-profit business.
Between 2012 and 2019, the Daily Caller News Foundation received $3,739,084 from Koch family foundations, the Bradley Foundation, DonorsTrust, and Donors Capital Fund. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reports that the Trump campaign paid the DCNF $150,000 to use its email list during the 2016 presidential campaign. In 2016, Koch donations and Trump’s data purchase amounted to 97.5% of the DCNF’s revenue.
The Daily Caller was founded in 2010 when Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel received $3 million from Foster Friess, another central player within the Koch donor network. The free speech advocacy group PEN America describes the Daily Caller as one of many conservative organizations—along with Fox News, Breitbart, The Blaze and others—that have engaged in a “widespread effort to fan the flames of outrage” about speech issues on campus. The outlet has a long record of false and manufactured reporting, including releasing James O’Keefe’s doctored videos and paying sex workers to lie about politicians. The Daily Caller’s staff has not only embraced and fueled the alt-right, the site has also become a haven for white supremacists, including one of the organizers of the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, Jason Kessler.
Dylan Byers, “Foster Friess Celebrates The Daily Caller,” Politico, January 23, 2012.
Joel Meares, “The Great Right Hype: Tucker Carlson and his Daily Caller,” Columbia Journalism Review, July/August, 2011.
Stephen Piggott and Alex Amend, “The Daily Caller Has a White Nationalist Problem,” Southern Poverty Law Center, August 16, 2017.
Also Kotch, “Charles Koch is Funding Rightwing, Pro-Trump Media, New Disclosure Reveals,” Sludge, November 21, 2018.
**Information on this page was originally published in: Free Speech and Koch Money: Manufacturing a Campus Culture War (with Ralph Wilson, Pluto Press, 2021)