Rolling Stone’s hit piece on Matt Walsh only proves the success of ‘What is a Woman?’

By Jonathon Van Maren

A couple of weeks ago, Rolling Stone published an essay intending to expose the viciousness of “right-wing influencers” titled “The Right Boosted Trans Hate — And Ran Up Their Follower Counts.” The catalyst for the hit piece was the astronomical success of Matt Walsh’s documentary What Is a Woman? on Twitter, which racked up 170 million views, a number that may not refer to people who watched it all the way through, but is incredible nonetheless. Other metrics buttress the success—the documentary was shared over 837,800 times over the past 120 days. 

Predictably, Rolling Stone selected their interviews carefully, going first to the disgraced anti-Christian activist group the Southern Poverty Law Center, which stated that Walsh’s film helped to “amplify ant-trans ideology, making it mainstream, providing it to a bigger audience. It took advantage of the underlying transphobia that exists in the country.” It also got Walsh invitations to testify on bills protecting children from “sex changes,” including in front of the Tennessee House. In January 2022, Rolling Stone notes, Walsh had 767,000 Twitter followers—in January 2023, he had 1.24 million. 

The premise of Rolling Stone’s piece is that opposing “sex changes” for kids—which they describe using the recently-invented phrase “gender-affirming care”—constitutes “hate.” What their hit piece actually shows is that there is an enormous—and growing—public appetite for sane commentary as the LGBT movement pushes the limits of tolerance by turning their attention to children. Walsh’s documentary was so successful because it tapped into growing public sentiment and helped to frame the issue in a way that gave people the language to articulate their own growing discomfort: 

But the impact the film has had on Walsh’s reach has been undeniable. Walsh’s content largely dominates not just discussion of LGBTQ issues, but political discourse in general, on many social platforms. According to Media Matters data shared with Rolling Stone, Walsh’s Facebook page was one of the top-five pages posting on transgender-related issues this year, a list that also included the right-leaning Breitbart, Fox News, Young America’s Foundation, and Walsh’s boss, Ben Shapiro. In fact, nearly 70 percent of all interactions on Facebook related to transgender issues came from right-leaning pages, as opposed to left-leaning pages, according to Media Matters data. Additionally, a video titled “Matt Walsh STUMPS Transgender Woman With One Simple Question” is among the 20 most interacted-with political posts on Facebook this year, earning more than 20 million views and 620,000 interactions.


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