Is Nashville the nation's new conservative-media nerve center? – Tennessean
Nashville has had a complicated relationship with Ye ― the celebrity activist, rapper and business mogul formerly called Kanye West ― since long before he grabbed the microphone out of Taylor Swift’s hands at the 2009 MTV Music Awards show.
But, more recently, Ye found a welcome home with Tennessee’s conservative media and like-minded music artists.
Two young millennial-facing, right-wing digital media companies based in Nashville took the national stage while doing business and going viral on social media with Ye in the past week.
Parler and Daily Wire joined Tennessee’s politically conservative-media landscape ― highlighted by the Christian Trinity Broadcast Network studios where Mike Huckabee broadcasts his weekly talk show ― when they moved to Nashville in the past two years. They’ve been welcomed by local celebrities who argue that the media censors Republican Party perspectives. Country-music star John Rich released a single in July via President Donald Trump’s Truth Social platform.
New digital-media brands with Nashville connections include sports and political commentator Clay Travis’s talk-radio show with Buck Sexton that took over the late conservative icon Rush Limbaugh’s time slot in many markets.
Tennessee’s fractured political landscape is visceral in Nashville, which became a popular battleground for divisive national political debates in 2020. For instance, Music City’s liberal government repeatedly extinguished state efforts in recent years to host the Republican National Convention in Tennessee’s biggest city.
Ye stepped into a raging political argument when he posed with Kid Rock, Jason Aldean and other local conservative artists last week in downtown Nashville at the legendary Woolworth building, the site of lunch-counter segregation protests in 1960. The civil-rights-era landmark was rebuilt by country-music star Chuck Wicks and reopened as a theater this year.
Daily Wire+ hosted Ye and other celebrities for a private screening of “The Greatest Lie Ever Sold” documentary at the Woolworth Theater on Oct. 12. It’s the latest film produced by Daily Wire+ for its growing “anti-woke” entertainment platform.
Photos of Ye at the event with Ray J, Daily Wire host Candace Owens and MMA fighter Colby Covington resonated in the national tabloid media with headlines mocking the gathering for its unusual mix of guests and the film’s controversial criticism of the Black Lives Matter organization. RollingStone.com dubbed the group a “bingo card from hell.”
Daily Wire did not respond to Tennessean requests for interviews, but called the screening “packed” and “star-studded” in an online article.
The film, co-produced by Owens, is promoted online as: “The fiery documentary that only Candace Owens and Daily Wire+ would dare bring you.”
Ye posed for photos with Owens in Nashville, less than a week after the pair was photographed together in a now-infamous viral social-media post at his Paris Fashion Week show wearing “White Lives Matter” t-shirts. The photo drew global scrutiny while Ye sat for media interviews and criticized the “Black Lives Matter” organization over fraud-related allegations against its leaders.
“In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial, we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves,” Ye told reporters at the Nashville event.
Woolworth Theater issued a statement to The Tennessean about the highly-publicized film screening.
“The Woolworth Theatre is a place where everyone is welcome. We believe that all have the right to be treated equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, political affiliation, belief, sex, gender, language, sexual orientation, health or other status,” theater officials said. “The Woolworth Theatre is a venue that honors the history of the space by respecting all people and their views. It is important that we welcome those we disagree with as much as those we do agree with, so that we can gain a better understanding of our friends and neighbors. The theatre does not tolerate hate speech of any kind. We are a place to come together to celebrate what brings us together regardless of our differences.”
On Monday, Ye doubled-down on his Nashville connections and announced plans to buy Parler, the lightly-moderated, social-media platform that rose to fame after President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter. The decision came shortly after his posts were censored on Twitter and Instagram.
Parler moved to the Nashville area last year, just months after Daily Wire relocated to Music City and cited California’s liberal government policies as a primary deciding factor to leave the West Coast.
Though Parler has struggled to remain viable amid a growing number of right-wing alternative-media platforms, parent company Parlement Technologies invested in a private cloud company this year to increase its independence from big-tech firms that have refused to host the social-media site on their servers.
“The acquisition ensures Parler a future role in creating an un-cancel-able ecosystem where all voices are welcome,” the Nashville company said in a statement. Owens’ husband George Farmer is Parlement’s chief-executive.
Meanwhile, Daily Wire’s slate of firebrand right-wing commentators have taken a greater interest in Nashville’s business community since moving to town.
The company’s growing influence was felt locally when Gov. Bill Lee and other Tennessee leaders called for an investigation on Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Clinic for Transgender Health following Daily Wire commentator Matt Walsh’s criticism of the hospital.
Walsh aired anonymous videos of doctors allegedly discussing how lucrative transgender procedures can be for the hospital, among other claims.
On Friday, Walsh will take to the streets in front of the Tennessee State Capitol for “The Rally to End Child Mutilation” in hopes of influencing politicians to ban the use of sex hormones, surgeries and other transgender treatments on children.
Daily Wire officials did not say whether Ye will be back in Nashville for the protest.
Sandy Mazza can be reached via email at email@example.com, by calling 615-726-5962, or on Twitter @SandyMazza.