The Rebel Media broadcasts its content on the Rebel Media website and its YouTube channel, which previously peaked on 16 August 2017, at 873,800 subscribers, however with the August departures, it had fallen to a minimum of 842,200 as of 31 August. In September–October 2017 the channel resumed its growth. On 25 June 2019, it had over 1.2 million subscribers.
The Rebel Media, often cast as Canada's version of Breitbart News, has been described as being part of the alt-right movement, although it rejected the term after the Charlottesville rally.
The Rebel Media was formed by Levant and Lilley following the closure of the Sun News Network. Levant said that his online production would be unencumbered by the regulatory and distribution difficulties faced by Sun News Network and that its lower production costs would make it more viable. Levant has cited Breitbart, the American far-right news hub, as an inspiration. A crowdfunding campaign raised roughly $100,000 for the project. The site soon attracted a number of other former Sun News Network personalities such as David Menzies, Paige MacPherson, Faith Goldy, Patrick Moore and, briefly, Michael Coren.
In the summer of 2015, the channel, led by Levant, launched a campaign to boycott Tim Hortons, a chain of Canadian coffee shops, after it rejected in-store ads from Enbridge due to complaints from customers opposed to the oil pipeline projects being promoted by the ads.
In early 2016, the Alberta government banned The Rebel Media's correspondents from press briefings on the grounds that, because Ezra Levant had testified in court in 2014 that he was a columnist or commentator rather than a reporter, none of his current correspondents could be considered to be journalists. On 17 February 2016, the government admitted that it made a mistake and said that it would allow The Rebel Media correspondents into press briefings.The Canadian Association of Journalists supported preventing government from choosing journalism coverage."
In late 2016, The Rebel Media advocated for accreditation by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to permit its access as journalists to their event. The Rebel Media had previously published articles claiming that the public is being deceived about climate change.
Rebel Media did receive support from the federal Canadian government and three journalism organizations and eventually was granted access by the UN.
In March 2017, one of their correspondents, Gavin McInnes, made controversial comments defending Holocaust deniers, accused the Jews of being responsible for the Holodomor and the Treaty of Versailles, and said he was "becoming anti-Semitic". He later said his comments were taken out of context. McInnes also produced a satirical video for Rebel called "Ten Things I Hate about Jews", later retitled "Ten Things I Hate About Israel".
Blowback over coverage of the Unite the Right Rally
Co-founder Brian Lilley quit the Rebel on 12 August 2017, following the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, writing, "What anyone from The Rebel was doing at a so-called 'unite the right' rally that was really an anti-Semitic white power rally is beyond me. Especially not a rally dedicated to keeping up a statue of Robert E. Lee, a man that whatever else he stood for, also fought on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of America’s bloodiest conflict." Lilley accused The Rebel of exhibiting a "lack of editorial and behavioural judgment that left unchecked will destroy it and those around it."
Faith Goldy, a former journalist and online show host of the Rebel, was fired on 17 August 2017, for her participation in a podcast associated with The Daily Stormer. In the course of reporting on the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Goldy argued that they suggested a wider "rising white racial consciousness" in America and characterizing a manifesto by white supremacistRichard Spencer that called for organizing states along racial lines as "robust" and "well thought-out."
Gavin McInnes left the Rebel at the end of August 2017. Levant wrote “We tried to keep him, but he was lured away by a major competitor that we just couldn’t outbid" in an email to the independent news site Canadaland. In February 2019, after suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for allegedly damaging his reputation and career prospect by characterizing the Proud Boys as a hate group, McInnes announced that he is once again hired by the media group.
British contributor Caolan Robertson no longer works for the Rebel. Robertson claims he was fired for "knowing too much" about the Rebel's finances, claiming the company dishonestly solicited donations for projects that were already funded and concealing how that money was spent. He also claimed that Southern was fired for refusing to tape a fundraising appeal for the Rebel's Israel trip after fundraising targets had already been met. Robertson also played audio of Levant offering him thousands of dollars of what Levant himself called "hush money". Levant denies these allegations and says he will present evidence opposing this in court, claiming that he was being "blackmailed" by Robertson and his partner. Levant has since briefly talked about The Rebel's finances in his online show and released a summary on The Rebel's website. It was reported that person that negotiated the settlement is the former director of communication for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Kory Teneycke.
Boycott by the Conservative Party of Canada
During the 2017 Conservative Party leadership race, many contenders, including the eventual leadership winner Andrew Scheer, gave interviews to the outlet.
After the 2017 Conservative Party leadership race, it was revealed that Scheer's campaign manager Hamish Marshall's IT firm Torch provided IT services to The Rebel Media. In 2015, Marshall told the National Observer, that he was only involved in the business side of the Rebel. Marshall explained to that he had left the Rebel after the leadership race ended to avoid a conflict of interest. In September 2017 Marshall's name was removed from the list of directors of The Rebel Media on the federal government's online registry of corporate information. On 16 October 2017, The Globe and Mail asked Scheer if he knew that Hamish Marshall shared office space with the Rebel during the leadership campaign. Scheer replied that he did not ask Mashall about his firm's many clients. Later, a spokesperson clarified that Scheer did not know the specifics of the arrangement. Levant explained that Marshall's IT firm Torch provided client services for the Rebel. A 2017 National Post article argued that Marshall implemented the Rebel donation system. Scheer told Maclean's in 2018, that Marshall past relationship with the Rebel should not be conflated with his selection as campaign chair.
Scheer denounced the outlet due to its coverage of the Unite the Right rally;, and stated that he would stop doing interviews with The Rebel Media until its “editorial directions" changed. The day after Scheer stated that he would not be granting interview with the Rebel going forward in an interview with the National Post.
The City of Edmonton withdrew from city advertisements after complaints on social media about the controversial nature of Levant's comments. According to Councilor Oshry, the city would have made this decision regardless of political leanings, because of controversial articles.
Another activist group, Hope not Hate, pressured Norwegian Cruise Lines into cancelling a scheduled Caribbean cruise which was to feature talks by The Rebel Media personalities, many of whom have since left the media website.
Rebel Freedom Fund
In December 2017 Wells Asset Management announced the Rebel Freedom Fund, allowing investors to fund Levant's film and video projects, offering an expected 4.5% return. This attracted news coverage the following February in advance of the fund's ostensible 1 March opening date, generally negative; MoneySense, for example, stated that "This one carries a lot of risk and doesn’t clear the MoneySense bar for appropriate retirement investment risk, whatever the political orientation." In June, however, Wells announced that it was shutting down all its funds, and when queried by a reporter from Maclean's, stated that the Rebel Freedom Fund had never launched.