Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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How Rebel News Stole the Spotlight at the World Economic Forum

'We couldn't get into the conference itself, which has what it looks like an East German checkpoint. But they’d be walking out from there and it was a chance to catch them... '

(Ken Silva, Headline USAOf the hundreds of credentialed and independent media members who attended the World Economic Forum in January, none had their coverage seen more than Rebel News—a conservative-leaning site that produced viral videos of its reporters questioning WEF power brokers and influencers such as Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

For Rebel News reporter Callum Smiles, his outlet’s formula for success was straightforward: “Ask the uncomfortable questions the people want answered,” he told Headline USA.

While simple, Smiles’s job was by no means easy. He and six other people from Rebel News worked 16-hour days throughout the week of the WEF, he said.

The Rebel News team’s day would start at the crack of dawn, with the reporters out their door and headed to Davos by around 8 a.m., Smiles said.

Once in Davos, the reporters set up shop at a local market before roaming the streets near the WEF main entrance.

“We couldn’t get into the conference itself, which has what it looks like an East German checkpoint,” Smiles said. “But they’d be walking out from there and it was a chance to catch them. If we just hung around that checkpoint, they had to walk past you.”

Along with reporting, Smiles said one of his main jobs was serving as the Rebel News “spotter,” keeping a keen eye out for the various high-level WEF participants.

“The people with the white lanyards underlined in blue—those were the ‘big cheeses,’” he said.

Having been crowdfunded by Rebel News supporters for the Davos trip, Smiles said he felt the pressure to produce.

“We don’t have billionaire backers. There was a bit of pressure because people were donating to get us out there. We needed to get results,” Smiles said.

Smiles said he would have been happy to make impactful video. Rebel News ended up interacting with dozens of prominent politicians, business executives, media members and other personalities.

Smiles said his personal favorite was questioning Thunberg about her political activism, including her scientific credentials, whether her recent arrest was staged, and if she would be denouncing the WEF participants who traveled to Davos in carbon-belching private jets. Smiles was the reporter who at one point even made Thunberg laugh out loud when he sarcastically asked when climate change would be warming the chilly weather in Davos.

Smiles said he was also proud of his interaction with former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, who ignored his questions about why he called people who haven’t taken the Covid-19 vaccination “idiots.”

However, Smiles regrets missing the Rebel News scrum with Pfizer boss Bourla. In that exchange, Rebel News founder Ezra Levant and Australia reporter Avi Yemini peppered Bourla with numerous unanswered questions, including about myocarditis, sudden deaths and when he knew that Pfizer’s Covid vaccine doesn’t stop transmission.

“I had gone for my lunch and left them out there, so I missed the big scoop,” he said.

Not to worry, though: Smiles said he plans on attending the next WEF meeting, where he’ll again be posing the tough questions to otherwise largely unaccountable world leaders.

In the meantime, Smiles said he’s focused on covering news in his home country, the United Kingdom. Founded and headquartered in Canada in 2015, Rebel News has since branched out to “tell the other side of the story” with bureaus in the UK, United States, New Zealand and Australia.

“I want to do this until Larry Fink or Tony Blair has me suicided,” Smiles said with a chuckle. “Rebel has become my dream job. There aren’t many jobs that will actually get me out there to ask the uncomfortable questions the people want answered.”

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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