'Liberal Hack Tournament' brackets announced, stars from CNN, MSNBC compete for 'hack' royalty

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One of Twitter’s most highly-anticipated events of the year is underway as some of the biggest media stars compete for the title of greatest “hack.”

The “Ruthless” podcast announced on a special Sunday “progrum” the competitors in the second annual “Liberal Hack Tournament,” an NCAA-style contest pitting members of the mainstream media against each other in the ultimate fight to become the supreme hack. 

CNN’s leftwing media guru Brian Stelter, who last year became the first-ever “Liberal Hack Tournament” champion, is back to defend his title as the No. 1 seed but has switched divisions from the “Way-Too-Online” hacks to the “Fake News” hacks out of Atlanta. 


Replacing Stelter as the No. 1 seed in the “Way-Too-Online” division out of Brooklyn is a fresh up-and-comer, New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz, who wasn’t even eligible to compete in last year’s contest. 

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, who was defeated by Stelter in the “Liberal Hack” championship, is the No. 1 seed in the “Liberal Activists” division out of Seattle. And former ABC News political commentator Matthew Dowd is the No. 1 seed among the “Establishment” hacks in Georgetown. 

Each matchup will compete in Twitter polls shared by “Ruthless” co-host Comfortably Smug and the general public and vote for their favorite hacks. Nearly one million votes were cast throughout the tournament last year. 

CNN leads the tournament with a whopping 17 competitors, more than enough to fill an entire division. Among its talent competing this year include anchors Jake Tapper, Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, correspondents Jim Acosta and John Harwood, commentators April Ryan and Ana Navarro, liberal fact-checker Daniel Dale, and even the network’s chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who’s been benched ever since his Zoom masturbation scandal last fall, is hoping to make a valiant comeback.

Acosta returns as a No. 2 seed after competing last year as a No. 1 seed. The liberal CNN reporter was narrowly defeated in an unprecedented runoff against Rubin in the Final Four after the two of them had a virtual tie in the initial matchup. 

MSNBC and NBC News also have strong representation in this year’s “Hack Madness” with a combined 16 aspiring hacks representing the Peacock network. Joy Reid, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Nicolle Wallace, Joe Scarborough, Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell, and Katy Tur have all landed spots in each of the four divisions. 

Maddow, after a strong showing in the Final Four last year as a No. 13 seed, returns as a No. 4 seed, hoping to make it to the finish line after falling short of Stelter’s “hack” dominance.  

The Washington Post has impressively doubled its number of competitors since last year. Joining Rubin are fellow columnist Max Boot, fact-checker Glenn Kessler, and correspondents Aaron Blake, Dave Weigel, and Philip Bump.

Meanwhile, The New York Times has a much weaker showing with just two competitors, a decrease from the three competitors it had at last year’s tournament. Appearing alongside Lorenz this year is Nikole Hannah-Jones, the reporter behind New York Times Magazine’s fact-challenged “1619 Project.”

Among the heavy-hitters returning to battle for the “Liberal Hack” crown are ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos,  New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer, Daily Beast editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast, Vox journalist Aaron Rupar, and Bulwark editor-at-large Bill Kristol. 

This year’s tournament also has several newcomers making their debut including PBS NewsHour correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl, and former Axios reporter-turned Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Alexi McCammond. 

Even the disgraced anti-Trump group The Lincoln Project has representation in this year’s contest with John Weaver, co-founder and accused sexual predator, competing in the “Way-Too-Online” division while his former colleague Steve Schmidt is competing among the “Liberal Activists.” Both of them are No. 6 seeds in their respective divisions.

Last year, Lincoln Project co-founder George Conway competed in the tournament but was defeated by MSNBC star Rachel Maddow in a Sweet 16 cage match. 


A spokesman for the “Ruthless” podcast told Fox News, “It’s easily the most highly anticipated spectacle of its kind. The contestants worked hard all year for their chance at glory and fans from coast to coast are ready to crown a new champion.”

“Ruthless,” which is co-hosted by Comfortably Smug, Josh Holmes, and Michael Duncan, is described as a “variety progrum” that “brings the next generation of conservative talk to the next level.” New episodes are released every Tuesday and Thursday. 

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