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Vox Media


Ezra Klein

Matt Yglesias

Melissa Bell


Melissa Bell


Lauren Williams

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Vox is a digital media brand of Vox Media that operates the left-leaning news and opinion website as well as an expanding network of branded podcasts, videos, and other online content. Vox was founded by left-wing journalists and activists Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, and Melissa Bell in 2014.

Vox’s “explaining the news” editorial model has been widely criticized for presenting the writers’ personal opinions under the guise of neutral journalism, with even left-leaning critics saying its reporting is “almost a parody of liberal faux-neutrality”1 and involves “characterizing its views as self-evident truths.” 2 They further warn, “Unlike its ideologically forthright competitors, Vox employs a sleight of hand that should put us on guard.” 3


Vox was launched in 2014 by left-wing journalists and activists Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias, along with former Washington Post platform director Melissa Bell. 4 Klein was a blogger at the left-wing American Prospect and the left-leaning Washington Post, while Yglesias had been a writer for the Prospect, The Atlantic, and Slate as well as a blogger for ThinkProgress, a project of the Center for American Progress liberal think tank. 56

Vox is best known for “explainer” articles that purport to give readers all they need to know about a topic. According to publisher Melissa Bell, “We want people to think of Vox as the organization that not only explains the news of the day, but explains all of the news.” 7 8

These explainers can range from pop culture (“Jeopardy champion James Holzhauer’s phenomenal winning streak, explained”), to economics (“Why is art so expensive?”), to partisan politics (“Trump’s bizarre Rose Garden news conference on impeachment, explained”), to complex sociopolitical topics (“Abortion in America, explained in 10 facts”).

Vox, along with other Vox Media sites, has also expanded heavily into podcasts and video, producing more than 100 podcasts and operating a video production unit that is developing shows for Netflix, CNN, YouTube, Apple, Hulu, and other platforms. 9 10

Vox editorial employees are unionized members of the Writers Guild of America-East. Their contract with Vox Media, which was approved in June 2019 after a one-day strike took the site “dark,” commits Vox to manage its employees in conformity with left-wing social causes. 11 12 These include requirements that the company interview specified percentages of job applicants “from underrepresented backgrounds,” that it “honor preferred gender pronouns and provide access to gender-neutral bathrooms” and that it provide the union with a $50,000 annual budget for a committee “devoted to improving diversity and equity at the company.”


When Vox was launched in 2014, Klein was editor-in-chief with Yglesias sharing executive editor responsibilities with Bell, who also served as senior product manager. 13 14

In September 2017, Klein announced that he would be moving to an editor-at-large position, handing over the editor-in-chief role to Lauren Williams, who had previously been an editor at left-wing magazine Mother Jones. 15 Klein also announced that Vox’s new executive editor and director of editorial strategy would be Allison Rockey, who had previously been the director of social media at the technology firm behind the 2008 and 2012 Obama presidential campaigns. 1617


Vox reporters have published a number of erroneous factual reports on the website, especially in the site’s early years.

In 2014, Vox writer Zack Beauchamp published an article titled “11 crucial facts to understand the Israel-Gaza crisis” purporting to explain the background of Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge. 18 In the initial draft of the article, Beauchamp claimed that the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip were “connected only by a bridge that Israel limits traffic on”; the two noncontiguous territories are separated by land (undisputed Israeli territory) and no such structure exists or ever existed. 19 The elementary error led to widespread criticism of the site. 20

The left-of-center website Deadspin compiled a list of “46 times Vox totally f[***]ed up a story” from the site’s first year, including the Gaza bridge claim and other examples of Vox reporters circulating unverified internet rumors, making basic factual mistakes, and misrepresenting source data, forcing the site to make corrections. 21

ControversiesConflicts of Interest

Vox has been criticized by left-of-center media critics for allowing advertisers and investors to influence its media coverage. Left-wing cultural magazine The Baffler characterized Vox as “a commercial venture with a bold commitment to sponsored content that often undermines the trustworthiness of its explanations,” saying, “All for-profit commercial publishers love to kiss the hand that feeds, but few are as obsequiously innovative as Vox.” 22

The left-wing media criticism organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has accused Vox of failing to disclose potential financial conflicts of interest in its coverage, including in an April 2016 article by Yglesias about a Vox advertiser Goldman Sachs-sponsored education programs in Utah. 23

FAIR had also called out Vox in 2015 for failing to note in an article that explained how cable subscribers “could have been paying a lot, lot more” that Vox’s largest investor was cable industry giant Comcast. 24 That same year, left-of-center media site AlterNet took Vox to task for a 2015 article praising streaming service Hulu, without noting that Hulu was owned by Vox Media investor and Comcast subsidiary NBC Universal. 25

In 2016, FAIR caught Vox praising the social media platform Snapchat, without noting that its parent company Snap, Inc. shared a major investor with Vox Media. 26 FAIR noted that Vox also covered a major investment in Snapchat by Comcast without disclosing its financial stake in Vox Media.

Left-Leaning Bias

Vox’s parent company, Vox Media, was founded and is run largely by individuals with a history of connections to the Democratic Party and backgrounds in left-wing activism. It was originally founded by left-wing activist and Howard Dean campaign strategist Jerome Armstrong, left-wing activist and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, and sports blogger Tyler Blezinski. 27 28 Currently, Vox Media’s president Marty Moe, chief financial officer Steve Swad, and chief communications officer Meredith Webster all served in staff positions in Democratic administrations, and chief operating officer Trei Brundett led digital strategy for the 2008 campaign of U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia). 29 30 31 32 33

In a criticism of Vox’s foreign policy coverage in May 2015, left-leaning writer Damon Linker wrote, “Vox looks like a throwback to the heyday of the unchallenged liberal consensus, when a limited number of news outlets produced content that strove for ‘just the facts, ma’am’ objectivity that just so happened to provide consistent backup for center-left policies [. . .] It’s a liberal website that thinks it can get away with pretending not to be a liberal website. The pro-liberal slant is sometimes subtle, but often not at all.” 34

Despite evidence that American journalists are significantly more likely to identify with the Democratic Party than the Republican Party,35 reports that 96 percent of journalists’ political donations in 2016 went to Hillary Clinton, 36 and the fact that media companies donate far more to Democratic candidates than Republican candidates,37 Vox cofounder and editor at large Matt Yglesias has nonetheless argued that “television news loves Republicans” and that mainstream TV news has a bias toward Republican guests and airing speeches by Republican politicians. 38 He has written that this is because “Rich shareholders,” “Rich executives” and “Rich anchors benefit objectively from Trump winning.” 39

In a February 2015 magazine article, Politico senior media critic Jack Shafer criticized Vox for turning an interview with President Barack Obama into videos that he said ended up “looking and sounding like extended commercials for the Obama-in-2016 campaign,” adding, “I’ve seen subtler Scientology recruitment films.” 40

“Again and again, they serve him softball—no, make that Nerf ball—questions and then insert infographics and footnotes that help advance White House positions,” Shafer wrote. He went on to dismiss Vox’s claims of partisan neutrality, saying “Klein and Yglesias are like two Roman curia cardinals who want us to believe their exclusive interview with the pope is on the level.”

Klein has claimed that he has no ideological affiliation, saying, “I don’t really think of myself as a liberal. That’s not the project I’m part of, which is to let the facts take me where they do.” 41

Approach to Left-Wing Violence

On June 2, 2016, protestors attacked attendees at a Donald Trump campaign rally in San Diego, California, assaulting more than a dozen people (including one police officer) while breaking car windows, setting fires and committing other acts of violence. 42 The next day, Vox deputy editor Emmett Rensin tweeted, “Advice: If Trump comes to your town, start a riot” and “Let’s be clear: It’s never a shame to storm the barricades set up around a fascist.” 4344

Vox editor-in-chief Ezra Klein faced criticism for taking more than 12 hours to release a statement in which he announced an indefinite suspension of Rensin, saying, “Emmett’s tweets violated Vox’s standards and Emmett has been suspended as a consequence.” 4546

That suspension lasted just three weeks, ending with the publishing of his obituary for Vietnam War correspondent and “Full Metal Jacket” co-writer Michael Herr on June 24. 47 A few days later, on July 6, Vox published a book review from Rensin titled, “Baffled by Trump and American right-wing populism? Read Steve Fraser’s The Limousine Liberal.” In it, he wrote, “The nation has never been so ripe for tyranny. But restoring the elites is not the answer. Liberalism is not working. The left has no time to celebrate. Its task, more urgent than ever, is to grow.” 48

In 2018, Vox cofounder Matt Yglesias wrote a Tweet thread admonishing conservatives who had objected to an alleged act of vandalism and intimidation by the Antifa-associated group Smash Racism DC against the wife and home of right-wing commentator Tucker Carlson. Yglesias asserted that while he thought the demonstration “tactically unwise and shouldn’t be done,” “terrorizing [Carlson’s] family” was “a strategy [. . .] to make them feel some of the fear” felt by illegal immigrants and other opponents of the Trump administration. 49

Democratic Establishment Bias

Vox came under attack from the left in 2016 for promoting Hillary Clinton’s campaign over that of Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries through coverage that attacked Sanders’ policies and promoted Clinton’s under the guise of “explaining” them. 50

In one example, Vox published an online tax calculator for determining tax liabilities under candidates’ proposed tax plans that returned especially negative results for Sanders’ plan. Left-wing media critic Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting editor Jim Naureckas called it a “gimmick that is entirely useless except as a deceptive advertisement for Hillary Clinton” for leaving out offsetting factors and dismissed it as “partisan hackery.” 51

In a 2016 column in far-left culture magazine Paste, writer Walker Bragman called Vox “a bastion of neoliberal corporatism” for its unquestioning support of Clinton and opposition to Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primary process. 52

Despite this, in 2016 Vox reporter Jonathan Allen wrote a column titled, “Confessions of a Clinton reporter: The media’s 5 unspoken rules for covering Hillary” in which he claimed that the national media had “Clinton Rules” that pushed them to cover Hillary Clinton as if she was “the purest form of evil.” 53

“Want to drive traffic to a website? Write something nasty about a Clinton, particularly Hillary,” he wrote. Allen claimed that media coverage “assumes that Clinton is acting in bad faith until there’s hard evidence otherwise,” and called these “double standards” that “distort the public’s perception of Hillary Clinton” and could create distortions in public opinion that would affect the presidential race. 54


  1. Linker, Damon. “Is ISIS Still Losing? Why Vox Keeps Getting the News Wrong.” The Week. May 29, 2015. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  2. Spaeth, Ryu. “The Gawker Meltdown and the Vox-ification of the News Media.” The Week. July 21, 2015. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  3. Johnson, David V. “Explanation for What?” The Baffler. March 18, 2017. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  4. Klein, Ezra. “Vox Is Our next.” The Verge. January 26, 2014. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  5. Yglesias, Matthew. “Big Think Tank Matt.” The Atlantic. May 03, 2010. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  6. Stoeffel, Kat. “Matthew Yglesias Moves to Slate.” Observer. November 10, 2011. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  7. Mullin, Benjamin. “Vox Works with McClatchy to Bring Explainers to Local Readers.” Poynter. May 30, 2015. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  8. Klein, Ezra, Melissa Bell, and Matt Yglesias. “Nine Questions about Vox.” Vox. March 28, 2014. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  9. Weissman, Cale Guthrie. “Vox’s New Netflix Show Is Just the Start of Its Video Ambitions.” Fast Company. May 23, 2018. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  10. Patel, Sahil. “Vox Media’s Entertainment Studio Aims for 12 Series for TV, Streaming Platforms in 2019.” Digiday. May 13, 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  11. “Vox Media Ratifies Landmark First Contract with Writers Guild of America, East |.” Writers Guild of America East. June 17, 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  12. Campbell, Andy. “Vox Media Employees Walk Out On Final Day Of Union Bargaining.” HuffPost. June 06, 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  13. Klein, Ezra. “Lauren Williams Is the New Editor-in-chief of Vox.” Vox. September 26, 2017. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  14. Kaufman, Alexander C. “Matt Yglesias Named Executive Editor of Ezra Klein’s New Vox Media Venture.” Adweek. January 27, 2014. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  15. “Vox Brings On Lead Editor Lauren Williams.” Cision. June 17, 2014. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  16. Levy, Nicole. “ Hires Engagement Editor.” POLITICO Media. March 25, 2014. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  17. “Obama 2012 Campaign | Digital Case Study.” Blue State Digital. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  18. Beauchamp, Zack. “The Israel-Gaza Crisis, Explained in 11 Facts.” Vox. July 17, 2014. Accessed June 25, 2019.
  19. Quoted in Hemingway, Mollie. “Vox’s Motto Should Be ‘Explaining The News Incorrectly, Repeatedly’.” The Federalist. July 17, 2014. Accessed June 25, 2019.
  20. See Bernstein, David. “ Just Needs to Stop Writing about Israel.” The Washington Post. July 17, 2014. Accessed June 25, 2019.; Robinson, Nathan J. “Explaining It All To You.” Current Affairs. November 6, 2016. Accessed June 25, 2019. ; Pollak, Noah. “In Praise of Vox Media, Max Fisher, and Zack Beauchamp.” Washington Free Beacon. July 17, 2014. Accessed June 25, 2019.
  21. Draper, Kevin. “46 Times Vox Totally Fucked Up A Story.” The Concourse. December 31, 2014. Accessed June 25, 2019.
  22. Johnson, David V. “Explanation for What?” The Baffler. March 18, 2017. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  23. Johnson, Adam. “Vox’s Puff Piece on Goldman Sachs Doesn’t Reveal Goldman Sponsors Vox.” FAIR. May 02, 2016. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  24. Johnson, Adam. “Comcast-Owned Vox Explains the Great Deal You’re Getting From Comcast.” FAIR. April 12, 2017. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  25. Jilani, Zaid. “Vox Article Praising Hulu as ‘The Best Streaming Service’ Doesn’t Mention Hulu and Vox Both Owned by Comcast.” October 27, 2015. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  26. Johnson, Adam. “With No Disclosure, Comcast-Owned Vox Runs Commercial for Comcast’s $500M Snapchat Investment.” FAIR. March 13, 2017. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  27. Solomon, Brian. “Meet Vox Media: The Digital Upstart That Wants To Be Conde Nast 2.0.” Forbes. December 24, 2012. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  28. Orlowski, Andrew. “Howard Dean’s Net Architect Blasts ’emergent’ Punditocracy.” The Register. January 30, 2004. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  29. Joynt, Carol Ross. “Technology News Site The Verge Launches in DC | Washingtonian (DC).” Washingtonian. November 03, 2011. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  30. “Trei Brundrett.” International Symposium on Online Journalism. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  31. “Vox Media Hires Meridith Webster as First Chief Communications Officer.” Vox Media. June 04, 2018. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  32. Press, Associated. “Swad Is Fannie Mae’s New CFO, Blakely Stays as Exec Vice President.” CNBC. August 05, 2010. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  33. “Fannie Mae Names Chief Financial Officer.” The New York Times. November 25, 2008. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  34. Linker, Damon. “Is ISIS Still Losing? Why Vox Keeps Getting the News Wrong.” The Week. May 29, 2015. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  35. Willnat, Lars, and David H. Weaver. “The American Journalist in the Digital Age: Key Findings.” News.Indiana.Edu. 2014. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  36. Levinthal, Dave, and Michael Beckel. “Journalists Shower Hillary Clinton with Campaign Cash.” Columbia Journalism Review. October 16, 2016. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  37. Chozick, Amy. “Donations by Media Companies Tilt Heavily to Obama.” The New York Times. August 22, 2012. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  38. Yglesias, Matthew. “Networks Giving Trump Free Airtime on Tuesday Refused to Air Obama’s 2014 Immigration Speech.” Vox. January 08, 2019. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  39. Yglesias, Matthew. “A Key to Understanding How Television News Is Going to Cover the 2020 Campaign Is to Realize That: – Rich Shareholders Benefit Objectively from Trump Winning – Rich Executives Benefit Objectively from Trump Winning – Rich Anchors Benefit Objectively Form Trump Winning Https://” Twitter. June 19, 2019. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  40. Shafer, Jack. “All the President’s Explainers.” POLITICO Magazine. February 09, 2015. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  41. MacGillis, Alec. “How Paul Ryan Convinced Washington of His Genius.” The New Republic. September 14, 2012. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  42. Mendoza, Martha. “Protesters Punch, Throw Eggs at Trump Supporters in San Jose.” KTVU. June 2, 2016. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  43. Mullin, Benjamin. “Vox Suspends Editor for Trump Tweet.” Poynter. June 03, 2016. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  44. Byers, Dylan. “Vox Suspends Editor for Encouraging Riots at Donald Trump Rallies.” CNNMoney. June 3, 2016. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  45. Klein, Ezra. “Statement on Emmett Rensin.” Vox. June 03, 2016. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  46. Concha, Joe. “Vox Founder Ezra Klein Disturbingly Silent After His Editor Encourages Riots at Trump Rallies (UPDATED).” Mediaite. June 03, 2016. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  47. Rensin, Emmett. “Michael Herr Is Dead. Read a Passage from Dispatches, His Masterpiece on the Vietnam War.” Vox. June 24, 2016. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  48. Rensin, Emmett. “Baffled by Trump and American Right-wing Populism? Read The Limousine Liberal.” Vox. July 07, 2016. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  49. Rutz, David. “Vox’s Yglesias: Terrorizing Tucker Carlson’s Family a ‘Strategy’ to Make Him Feel Fear of ‘His Victims’.” Washington Free Beacon. November 08, 2018. Accessed June 25, 2019.
  50. Ackerman, Seth. “Meet the New Harry and Louise.” Jacobin. January 25, 2016. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  51. Naureckas, Jim. “Figures Don’t Lie-But Liars Make Tax Calculators.” FAIR. November 29, 2016. Accessed June 20, 2019.
  52. Bragman, Walter. “The Sad Decline of VOX: How a Once-Promising Media Outlet Became a Bastion of Neoliberal Corporatism.” August 29, 2016. Accessed June 25, 2019.
  53. Allen, Jonathan. “The 5 Unspoken Rules for Covering Hillary Clinton.” Vox. July 06, 2015. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  54. Allen, Jonathan. “The 5 Unspoken Rules for Covering Hillary Clinton.” Vox. July 06, 2015. Accessed June 19, 2019.

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