Granted, Mr. Bongino’s shtick is not exactly new. His brand of right-wing pugilism is similar to what talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have been doing for decades. He is good at turning daily culture-war skirmishes into hyperpartisan outrage-bait, with a cast of recurring left-wing villains and right-wing heroes who inevitably show up to dunk on them. (Typical headline: “CNN’s Fredo SCHOOLED On His Brother’s Coronavirus Policies.”) And he is skilled at a certain type of industrial-scale content production that is valuable on today’s internet, flooding social media with a torrent of original posts, remixed memes and videos and found footage.
“We’ll take some interesting clip of maybe the president or Kayleigh McEnany, and we’ll intermingle it with clips of my show, and it seems to work well for us,” he said. “Wherever my content is posted, we just get an incredible response.”
Along with his Facebook page, Mr. Bongino and a small team of writers keep up the Bongino Report, a news aggregator started last year to cater to conservatives who felt that the Drudge Report had become too liberal. He puts out podcast episodes and videos in which he rants against the “deep state,” decries the “Russia hoax,” and promotes spurious claims about Hunter Biden’s laptop — all fairly standard Fox News narratives, repackaged for a Facebook audience.
Mr. Bongino’s popularity began to spike during this spring’s Covid-19 lockdowns, as election season began to heat up and QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy movement, grew in popularity. (Mr. Bongino is not a QAnon promoter, but his content is popular with the movement’s supporters.)
Unlike Mr. Shapiro, whose website, The Daily Wire, was caught using a network of affiliated Facebook pages to generate traffic, Mr. Bongino swears he has “absolutely, categorically, 100 percent never” used any underhanded tactics to boost his Facebook presence.
“We don’t use bots,” he said. “We don’t even advertise much on Facebook.”
He credits his popularity, instead, to Facebook’s older and more conservative user base — and to the writers who work for him, who “have almost made a cottage industry” of understanding the platform’s algorithms, he said.
Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Bongino is a frequent critic of Facebook and other Silicon Valley tech companies, which he believes are censoring conservatives. His own posts have been flagged several times by Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers, and he said it was only a matter of time before the social network cracked down on him more aggressively.