The Rebel Yell - 2019-10-13
Who, what, when, where, why, and how did we get here?
Rebel Media is the lynchpin of the Canadian alternative right news sphere. Founded from the ashes of the now-defunct Sun News Network by former commentators Ezra Levant and Brian Lilley, the Rebel distributes its content on its own website, rebelnews.com — however, these articles are oftentimes contextual links to its primary content distribution platform, newscast-style videos on its YouTube channel. To illustrate just how important this YouTube channel is to the Rebel, we can compare it to the web properties of the CBC, Canada's public broadcaster. The Rebel's homepage popularity, as measured by Alexa.com, is #98,778 globally and #3,913 in Canada as of July 19 2019 in comparison to that of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada's public broadcaster, with a #1,221 global ranking and #28 ranking in Canada. Yet on YouTube, the Rebel's subscriber base has grown from 80,819 on February 15 2016 (one year after its launch) to 1,247,251 as of July 19 2019, while the CBC's subscriber base is just a slight notch above the Rebel's at 1,372,393. The CBC has had 82 years to establish its own media presence in Canada, while the Rebel has achieved this in a little over 4. How did it achieve this meteoric rise in such a short amount of time, considering the relatively stagnant state of Canadian media? And what role has it played in crafting the "public" of the new Canadian right? Below, we answer these questions by first running through the history of its founder, Ezra Levant, before investigating the contemporary political and media climates that the Rebel fits itself into. After this, we'll run through some quantitative data to define the shape and themes of the Rebel's content itself, and then expand on this quantitative analysis in order to investigate how and where, exactly, the Rebel exists within the broader Canadian news media ecosystem.