Conservative podcaster Dan Bongino says that “creating a parallel media economy is not a great idea — it’s a important idea.” (Calla Kessler for The Washington Post)

One job in the waning months of the 2020 presidential campaign, Dan Bongino — a former mystery Service certified dealer turned serial congressional candidate turn podcasting star — walked right into the Oval Office because that a sit-down through the president.

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He’d stood external the locus that American power throughout his work on the protection detail for chairman Barack Obama, however he’d never gone into for a an individual meeting until Donald Trump was elected. The president, trailing in the polls and also hapless in his an answer to the coronavirus, had actually invited him come discuss campaign strategy, Bongino recalled in one interview native his residence in Stuart, Fla.

Bongino was uniquely positioned to market insights. In America’s siloed mediascape, he to be barely a blip come liberals; on much of the political left, he was the powerhouse no one recognized. But in the separate universe the conservative media, he’d come to be a thing.

He to be the fulminating, one-man conglomerate presiding over a mini-empire of indigenous that consisted of a booming website, a highly rated podcast, a constant Fox News gig, a Facebook web page that routinely registered one astonishing slice of the top 10 shared posts, best-selling books and a growing YouTube channel. He to be doing an ext than raging against Democrats and also the tendency media. He was also setup in motion his grand aspiration to develop a parallel digital economy in i beg your pardon the ideal wing build its own digital infrastructure, separate from large tech carriers he believes space anti-conservative, by obtaining its very own “pipes” that ferry info on the Internet.

Bongino’s advice come Trump in the run-up to the 2020 election — one suggestion amongst a smattering he’d readily available — was straightforward: seize the project narrative and also the attention of the country by stop outdoor rallies at airports, whereby the hazard of spreading the virus would be minimized.

“Whether i was the one human who argued it come him that made him do it — I’m no going to say that,” says Bongino, a former new York police officer that speaks in the blunt, unvarnished, last-syllable-chopping tone of his emperors upbringing. “But I recognize I was among the main voices.”

Bongino had been beneficial to the White residence as very early adopter that pro-Trump story lines, including pecking relentlessly at concerns related come the beginnings of the federal investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian election interference. He’d additionally pumped increase the portrayal, refuse by Democrats, the expansive spying on Trump’s campaign by the Obama administration. Bongino later had actually something come boast around when one FBI certified dealer pleaded guilty come falsifying records used for a warrant to surveil a previous Trump campaign official.

Since the election, he’s come to be one the the much more energetic promoters that dubious assertions around the 2020 presidential contest. Despite rulings by more than 80 judges, including Trump appointees, rejecting situations alleging fraud and election-law manipulation, he states that “the reality that the can be fried Court doesn’t want to hear a many these situations and administer clarity and also give a critical answer, ns think is a conflict in and of itself.”

He’s called continued restrictions encourage by wellness officials, also as more and more people space vaccinated, “witch-doctorism,” and blasted specialists who say vaccinated civilization should undertake masks outside, a view that has actually lately to be taken up by some on the left. He’s explained masks as “face diapers” and also accused free of taking advantage of the coronavirus to enact Soviet-style federal government control. And also he’s engaged in a standard strategy that “what-aboutism,” condemning the use of politics violence in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack but quickly pivoting come comparisons with violent demonstrations by the political left, including teams such together antifa, following the killing of George Floyd, the Black male whose neck to be pinned come the soil by a White policeman in Minneapolis.

“He doesn’t simply talk come his audience, he leads his audience,” Michael Caputo, a trump 2016 project media strategist, claims of Bongino. (Calla Kessler for The Washington Post)

“He doesn’t simply talk come his audience, he leader his audience,” states Michael Caputo, a trump card 2016 project media strategist that departed indigenous his management communications task last year amid allegations, which he’s rebutted, of manipulating publicly released info to downplay the coronavirus. “Bongino’s not just reacting to the news the the day. He is actually producing the news the the day.”

Bongino’s counsel prior to the 2020 choice obviously wasn’t enough to undo the downward trajectory the Trump’s reelection hopes. However while so plenty of others left the trump era gravely hurt — indicted, start guilty pleas or convicted (then pardoned with tarnished reputations), or mocked or marginalized or disappeared (think Fox company stalwart Lou Dobbs, who’d when been patched right into White house meetings through Trump) — Bongino has actually emerged much better positioned than ever before to form the border of the ideal wing.

Lately, Parler — the Twitter alternate site that was stripped from the Apple application store after ~ the short-lived Jan. 6 pro-Trump insurrection — has become Bongino’s main talking allude in his campaign against large tech companies. Parler, which also lost technical support from Amazon and Google, had actually been painted early on as the communications nexus for the insurrectionists. But in the month since, investigations have presented that sites consisting of Facebook were supplied as much, or more. Bongino has actually a potent instance to make that Parler, in i m sorry he says he has actually an same stake, has actually been unfairly singled out.

Now, leveraging his personal wealth, cultivation fame and connections, Bongino’s been eyeing more tech acquisitions.

“When i think around his power, it’s not so lot that he is flexing the or making use of it top top a consistent basis; it’s the what he is doing, uneven others, is investing in infrastructure, communications infrastructure, that can actually it is in pretty easily converted right into power and also influence,” stated Angelo Carusone, president and also CEO the Media Matters because that America, a liberal media watchdog that has actually been a frequent Bongino antagonist and regularly accuses him of dispersing misinformation about, amongst other things, the 2020 presidential election.

Just this month, Bongino’s footprint expanded significantly as he to be selected to to fill the nationwide daytime radio point out once inhabited by sirloin Limbaugh, the legend broadcaster who died in February. The show is collection to debut in so late May, more than likely airing on just a fraction of Limbaugh’s 600 former stations.

The radio regime is simply a piece of what might lie ahead, making one wonder whether Bongino’s ultimate impact could be as an entrepreneur even much more than as a commentator. In the interview, the 46-year-old Bongino says he newly invested in a payment processing service, adding to equity positions he states he’s bring away in a YouTube-competitor video clip streaming organization called Rumble, and Parler.

“Creating a parallel media economic situation is no a an excellent idea — it’s a necessary idea,” states Bongino. “I want to be decision clear, and that distinction has gotta be, gotta be, lucid in her heart.” He insists the tech companies repress conservative voices, though the assertion has been questioned by recent academic research.

His aspirations are much from conveniently achievable. Others have actually tried to reinvent American media without success. However Bongino, with his ideological constituency fine established, sees the virtually 75 million human being who voted because that Donald Trump together a ripe market. If he deserve to pull off also a part of his goal, a big chunk the the American ideal won’t just be life in a parallel information civilization — they’ll be living in Dan Bongino’s world.

Runs because that office in Maryland

Dan Bongino is trying to remember as soon as it began.

“Paula! just how long us been doin’ the show? friend remember?” Bongino, top top the phone, can be heard calling the end to his mam at your waterfront home.

After year in Maryland, they currently live in Stuart, a midsized city top top Florida’s east coast, an hour north of Palm Beach, with their two daughters, ages 17 and 9, a goldendoodle puppy and also Bongino’s tools arsenal that contains his favorite Sig P365 pistol and rifles make by BCM, one of his show’s sponsors. They moved to Stuart from adjacent Palm City since of threats triggered by his commentary. “I can not emphasize enough, I’m no a victim, so please, i don’t want any sob stories, but we’re more than likely going to have to move again because that that really same reason.”

Bongino speak at the yearly Conservative Political activity Conference in nationwide Harbor, Md. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Bongino’s podcast began in February 2015.

It was not a happy time.

He was coming turn off his 2nd campaign loss in three years. He’d brought a unique profile come his entry right into elective politics. To run, he’d left behind the protection of a 12-year an enig Service job that contained working with three presidents — invoice Clinton, George W. Bush, including time on first daughter Jenna Bush’s detail, and Obama.

Before authorized the mystery Service he’d been a new York policeman, motivated in component by the police officers he’d seen pertained to the assist of his mother, while that was farming up in an apartment over his grandfather’s bar in Queens. His stepfather to be a “grizzled dockworker” who was abusive as soon as he drank, Bongino wrote in a memoir, “Life within the Bubble: Why a Top-ranked mystery Service certified dealer Walked far From that All.” The young Bongino resolved to “never it is in physically intimidated again.”

He began a lifelong physics regimen that’s evident to this day once he put on his signature tight T-shirts, revealing bulging biceps, if streaming his podcast top top YouTube and Rumble. The rigorously follows a regimen that has weightlifting and high-intensity expression training; that takes jujitsu lessons in his garage and once owned a blended martial arts footwear firm that developed something called “Grapple Socks.”

His very first try to success office, in 2012, was stunningly quixotic, and he shed badly to the incumbent Maryland democratic senator, Ben Cardin, after ~ a surprise success in a huge Republican main field. His second was even an ext stunning, as he almost defeated incumbent Democrat john Delaney, a future presidential candidate, in a Maryland conference race.

He later on cobbled with each other $10,000 and also built a makeshift podcasting studio making use of mover’s blankets in a basement closet in ~ his Severna Park, Md., home. The been motivated by an article he’d read around young human being shifting indigenous radio come podcasts.

His climb as a conservative talker had actually been given very early bump top top in the murkier edge of the Internet: He’d appeared on the conspiracy site Infowars, and also his memoir had actually been originally published through the books division of WorldNetDaily, a website that was a an important promoter of the debunked “birtherism” theory that Obama was an illegitimate president. (The publication is now published by post Hill Press and also distributed by Simon and also Schuster.)

But he’d additionally caught the attention of large names, consisting of Fox News superstar Sean Hannity, that featured Bongino on his top-rated program. Square-jawed through an intimidating glare, he to be a herbal fit to express outrage. Radio powerhouse note Levin became a friend and also Bongino occasionally guest-hosted his show.

With his podcast beginning to develop an audience, Bongino relocated his household to Florida the next year so the his mam — who’d emigrated come the United claims from Colombia at age 9, not speaking a word of English — can be closer to she mother.

Once again he determined to run for national office, jumping right into an open up congressional race. Bongino had practically no election infrastructure, mainly tooling roughly the Southwest Florida district with a solitary aide, sustained by prodigious quantities of 5 Guys burgers.

“We had no business being in that race,” claims Maria Pycha, who’d marveled at Bongino’s retail political an abilities and assembling that a volunteer network in his an initial two races and also served as his campaign manager in the Florida contest.

Bongino in 2012, marketing as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, greets voter Patricia Walter. He shed that race along with two other later bids because that the U.S. House. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The Florida race would certainly seal a reputation as a hothead that he has continued to deepen through podcast rants and also impassioned tv appearances. In a taped phone call with a Politico reporter who was asking about opaque little campaign donations, Bongino exploded in a torrent the profanities, dropping multiple F-bombs.

“I think he likes to watch his name on the front page of Politico if that says, ‘Dan Bongino berates reporter,’ due to the fact that his followers view that together ‘Dan Bongino own the fake news,’ ” says Aidan McLaughlin, editor in chef of Mediaite, a site that has likewise been the subject of profane Bongino outbursts.

In the Bongino worldview, the media is complicit in a strangling the American values, helpful idiots in organization with liberal political leaders who “love communism and socialism,” are bent on pistol confiscation and “worship the gold calf” the Chinese-style authoritarianism.

Every tendency media basher needs a bête noire, and though that has plenty of targets, Bongino has uncovered a favorite in Brian Stelter, the hold of the CNN regime “Reliable Sources.” In 2019, Bongino went turn off on Stelter, who he calls “Mr. Potato Head,” for not criticizing CNN for hiring as a contributor Andrew McCabe, the former acting FBI director that authorized an examination of Trump and had to be accused by the righteousness Department’s inspector general of lying throughout a media leak probe (an accusation the denied).

In barely a minute of among his video-streamed podcasts, Bongino, attract a T-shirt emblazoned with the words, “No 4 minutes 1 given,” regulated to contact Stelter “a clown,” climate “a clown” again, then “a full joker,” “a clown” for a third time, a “moron” and “a doofus the the greatest order.”

During his Stelter harangue, Bongino — in typical, stream-of-consciousness mode — occasionally had to interrupt himself.

He was laughing so difficult he can barely speak.

Stelter, who sometimes bantered on society media in years previous with Bongino, says the former secret Service certified dealer is engaging in “performative masculinity” to appeal come a largely White, male audience.

“These anti-media entertainers target media numbers in stimulate to acquire attention; and it has worked for Dan Bongino,” Stelter, between bouts of laughter, states in an interview.

A while back, someone sent out Stelter a Mr. Potato Head toy, and also he sometimes uses the in the elevator of his live shots as “a wink” come the audience: “My children love playing v it.”

Bongino"s cancer diagnosis

Dan Bongino is trying come remember once he got cancer.

“Paula!” that calls out. “When was i diagnosed with the cancer?”

Turns out it was at some time last fall. An oncology nurse who watches Bongino’s display contacted the after noticing a bump on his neck the was later on diagnosed together Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was a time in his life when every little thing had appeared to it is in going his way. His present was a hit. Money was pouring in indigenous ads on his podcast — over the year he’s had sponsors the sell health supplements, survivalist meals and also Internet privacy software application — and also other organization ventures to together an degree that he claims he’s “set because that life.”

Moments before he was around to go into surgery in ~ Sloan Kettering in brand-new York, Bongino says, his phone rang v a blocked number.

It to be Trump, that has since moved come Florida, as well.

“Is over there anything we deserve to do because that you?” Bongino recalls trump card asking. “Do you require anything once you’re increase there?”

Over the year their partnership had come to be symbiotic and somewhat personal. Trumped tweeted around Bongino’s books and also helped increase his audience by showing up on his podcast.

“Bongino is trump card through and also through to his genetic code,” claims Caputo, the former Trump communications official.

Bongino at residence in Stuart, Fla., with his family’s goldendoodle puppy, Lucy. (Calla Kessler because that The Washington Post)

Bongino had become a enthusiasm dissector the the impeachment case against the president, his critiques earning him much more adoring fans together they were magnified on Fox and also elsewhere. He’d composed a book with 2 co-authors titled “Spygate: The attempted Sabotage the Donald J. Trump,” i beg your pardon posits connections in between the Hillary Clinton campaign and also foreign reality to threaten Trump’s 2016 election chances.

When Bongino take it an same stake in Parler, follow to one more investor, Jeffrey Wernick, his notoriety drew users come the site.

“Parler prior to Bongino joined was this little app that was make squeaky noises, but it was tough to convince world to move over since there was no that large name to provide it credibility,” Wernick said in an interview. “Without Bongino, we could never have scaled . He became the challenge of Parler.”

With his empire expanding, Bongino had a larger reach throughout one that the specifying periods that his career: the aftermath of the 2020 election. Also as indications were pointing come a victory by chairman Biden, Bongino to be furiously advertise theories about supposed vote-counting anomalies and feasible manipulation of tallies.

Two days after Biden was declared the victor by the connected Press, Bongino was telling his listeners that “there is nothing come concede. Concession speech? Concede what?”

A popular misconception around this duration is the Bongino to be unequivocally saying the choice was stolen. In fact, the leavened his accusations by saying that if no fraud to be found, he’d expropriate that conclusion, and that when electors met and the “votes room counted, maybe that story changes.” Still, his repetitive suggestions that something untoward did occur or might have happened helped keep the stolen-election narrative alive.

Early on, after the election, he urged resistance, saying “my listeners are fighters,” if cautioning the Trump had only a slim opportunity of prevailing. Yet he chafes at the pointer that he might have play a function in stoking the anger among Trump pendant who assaulted the Capitol top top Jan. 6, the day that the choice outcome was finalized. This day he claims he remains persuaded the election was “rigged,” even though the won’t go so far regarding say it was “stolen.”

“We’re in a yes, really dangerous spot,” Bongino says. “When human being start accusing rather of heresy and Hester Pryne-ing them, putting the scarlet letter ~ above them since they dared come ask a question . . . At the moment they were very legitimate questions. There are still legitimate questions. I’m not suggesting this means Trump won.”

Bongino states he wouldn’t rule out running for office a fourth time. The cancer diagnosis changed his thinking, the says, making the wonder whether he might make a mark beyond being a political tastemaker. The seems prefer a remote possibility, though, especially when he is busy structure what can be referred to as Dan Bongino’s world.

He’s certain his audience has the very same mind-set he does, including supporting school choice, expansive pistol rights and minimal government regulation: “It’s really just an eagerness to keep the prosperity that the present. Civilization just desire to be left alone.”

In the meantime, he’s advocating on his program for trump card to operation for president again.

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“He is the conservative movement,” Bongino says in the interview. “Is there anyone with a larger political bank account right now than Donald Trump? The answer is, ‘No.’ ”

The other day, Bongino’s call rang. That was wait for a phone contact from a lawyer on among those transaction he says he’s constantly pursuing. He decreased the call.