Column: The Daily Wire Makes Talking Politics Fun

On Tuesday night, a rowdy group awaited security check-in outside Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. The line included local residents and out-of-town visitors. Cheers from the parking lot and from inside the building, most notably "Let's Go, Brandon," were constant. A nearby-by traveler who hadn't seen the sign probably assumed the crowd had bought high-priced tickets to a concert, a wrestling promotion, or a comedy special.

But Ryman hadn't scheduled any musicians, wrestlers, or comedians to perform that night. Instead, the auditorium sold out a venue of around 2,000 people to watch pundits talk about politics.

Say that aloud: fans spent money to watch six people talk about the news. Skeptics who didn't attend the event would mock the concept. The Daily Wire Backstage does feature six hosts who sit around a table to discuss current events. However, it is far more than that because the viewers are as important as the show's personalities. Viewers of Backstage are in on the jokes, the talking points, the biases, and the vibe. The Daily Wire is a news outlet, a content company that has made talking politics fun.

Attendees knew the grim topics the cast would discuss: COVID, President Joe Biden, Dr. Fauci, the radicalization of public schools, abortion, and even secession (a topic which is only grim to some, I suppose.) Despite that, the crowd laughed, cheered, or booed at every word.

Daily Wire co-founder and podcast host Ben Shapiro opened the show wearing a cowboy hat as he walked to the mic, looking ready to perform "Walk the Line." The crowd thought he might, but knew what he had in store as soon as he uttered his patented "but first" transition. After those two words, fans knew Shapiro was set to read a live advertisement in under, say, 20 seconds. And he did, to the delight of his audience.

Shapiro is hardly an everyman. He has degrees from UCLA and Harvard Law School. Shapiro may not associate with many blue-collar workers in middle America, yet they are the type of people he attracts.

In many words per minute, Shapiro talks with his audience, not down to them. He speaks for them. Shapiro doesn't dismiss those without Ivy degrees. In fact, he often encourages people to skip college indoctrination entirely. While CNN and MSNBC hosts present themselves as our indestructible superiors, Shapiro openly admits his vulnerabilities. For example, when discussing Randy Moss' tearful reaction to Jon Gruden's decade-old emails, Shapiro quipped, "If I knew it was that easy to make football players cry, high school would have been a lot easier." 

Daily Wire subscribers don't see themselves in Shapiro, obviously. But they do see themselves as part of the platform he has built. From his podcast to his tweets, Ben Shapiro has created a business for people the media and Hollywood have shamed or left behind. Shapiro doesn't use annoying clichés like "own the libs" or melt down in faux outrage over the Left's takeover of major institutions. Instead, he makes fun of and outsmarts liberal elites, which is a much more appealing tactic.

Shapiro's co-founder and Daily Wire god-king, Jeremy Boreing, is the show's point guard. Boreing is the most likable guy on set. Each time the cast delves too deep into the weeds, Boreing reminds them they are there for the fans, not their egos.

Boreing can also sing, I think:

Okay, he can sort of sing.

Joining their bosses on stage were Michael Knowles, Matt Walsh, Andrew Klavan, and Candace Owens, and Boreing took turns telling jokes at each of their expense. He reminded Andrew Klavan that he was born in the 1800s -- a crucial note. Boreing let Michael Knowles know that he is still just Michael Knowles. He even stole Shapiro's "but first'' line to break up the show's segments. No one was safe from Boreing's that night.

Knowles, who is often the punching bag of company jokes, is the awkward guy you meet at a BBQ who later becomes the life of the party. His Fauci impressions drew, perhaps, the loudest cheers of the night. Knowles makes his points by saying very little. No wonder he published a book entitled Reasons to Vote for Democrats, which doesn't have a single word written in it.

Should Hollywood directors eventually parody the Daily Wire with a TV series -- and they may -- they will have a blast casting Klavan, the senior in the room. Klavan has little interest in nonsense because he doesn't have time for it. So when he spoke, the crowd sat back and listened. Maybe even took notes. Klavan left the crowd thinking that if soldiers can sacrifice their lives for freedom, we can lose a job or a friend to fight the good fight.

Based on audience feedback, Matt Walsh was Ryman Auditorium's favorite personality. Sending off Steven Hyde vibes, Walsh is the guy fans want to have a beer with. He is relaxed and brash, and he dresses and shaves like a man the company should hide behind the scenes. For these reasons, Matt Walsh emerged as a star podcast host in 2021. 

Then there is Candace Owens, whose rise took off before she joined the Daily Wire on election night 2020, the "election night steal," as Boreing calls the signing. It's telling that Owens trends negatively so frequently. She tells the truth, the truth so many Americans want to say but can't. On Tuesday night, Owens called for the return of "manly men,'' and the crowd responded with a dragged-out "yesss." Owens encouraged parents to take their kids out of public schools, a piece of advice that left the attendees thinking before they cheered. In sports terms, Owens is the flashy receiver the team goes to late in the game.

The fans walked out of the building with a sigh of relief, knowing that six influential members of the media "get them." Unlike its mainstream counterparts, the Daily Wire isn't trying to change its viewers. Instead, the Daily Wire encourages its supporters to embrace who they are. That's the simple difference and story.

Written by
Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics.. Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.