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Malkin began her journalism career at the Los Angeles Daily News, working as a columnist from 1992 to 1994. In 1995, she worked in Washington, D.C. as a journalism fellow at the libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute. In 1996, she moved to Seattle, Washington, where she became a columnist for The Seattle Times. According to Goldsea, by the end of the year "Malkin was unleashing the no-holds-barred style of political spitballing that would ultimately make her a poster girl for the radical right".
Since 1999, Malkin has written a syndicated column for Creators Syndicate. Her column is published by outlets including Townhall. Some publications which previously carried her column, such as The Daily Wire and National Review, stopped doing so around 2019 when she began to espouse more extreme views. The white supremacist publication American Renaissance began publishing her column in 2020.
On April 24, 2006, Malkin launched the conservative blog Hot Air, where she remained CEO until she sold the website in 2010. The site's staff at launch included Allahpundit and Bryan Preston; Preston was later replaced by Ed Morrissey on February 25, 2008. In February 2010, Salem Communications bought Hot Air from Malkin. In March 2012, Malkin founded the website Twitchy, a Twitter content curation site. She sold Twitchy, also to Salem Communications, the following year.
For years, Malkin was a frequent commentator for Fox News and a regular guest host of The O'Reilly Factor. In 2007, she announced that she would not return to The O'Reilly Factor, alleging that Fox News had mishandled a dispute over derogatory statements made about her by Geraldo Rivera in a Boston Globe interview. Malkin joined Conservative Review's online television network, CRTV, when it launched in 2016, to host the documentary-style show Michelle Malkin Investigates. Malkin left CRTV under unclear circumstances when it merged with TheBlaze in December 2018. Malkin later joined competitor Newsmax TV in May 2020, where she began to host the show Sovereign Nation.
Malkin published her first book, Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces, in 2002. It reached #14 on the New York Times bestseller list.
In 2004, she published In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror, defending the U.S. government's internment of 112,000 Japanese Americans in prison camps during World War II, and arguing that racial profiling is acceptable in times of war. The book drew harsh criticism from mainstream scholars, organizations, and individuals including the Japanese American Citizens League and Fred Korematsu. The Historians' Committee for Fairness, an organization of scholars and professional researchers, published an open letter condemning the book for not having undergone peer review and arguing that its central thesis is false. Some conservative scholars spoke out in support of the book, including Thomas Sowell and Daniel Pipes. The Virginian-Pilot called her "an Asian Ann Coulter" and dropped her column in November 2004.
Malkin's third book, Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, was released in October 2005. Malkin released her fourth book, Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies, in July 2009. It remained on The New York Times Non-Fiction, Hardcover Best Seller list for six weeks. Her fifth book, Who Built That: Awe-Inspiring Stories of American Tinkerpreneurs, was released in May 2015 and was a response to the "you didn't build that" statement made by President Barack Obama three years earlier, on July 13, 2012. Malkin published Sold Out: How High-Tech Billionaires & Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America's Best & Brightest Workers in 2015 along with John Miano. She published Open Borders Inc.: Who's Funding America's Destruction? in 2019.
In June 2004, Malkin launched a political blog, MichelleMalkin.com. A 2007 memo from the National Republican Senatorial Committee described Malkin as one of the five "best-read national conservative bloggers". In December 2008, Malkin's blog was the largest conservative blog, and in 2011, the people search company PeekYou reported that Malkin had the largest digital footprint of any political blogger. In April 2020, Malkin moved her blog and its archives to The Unz Review, a far-right website run by former publisher of The American Conservative, Ron Unz. According to the Anti-Defamation League, The Unz Review is "a site that features numerous white supremacists and antisemites and is run by Ron Unz, who has written a number of antisemitic tracts."
Malkin has also been a contributor to the far-right anti-immigration website VDARE, writing a weekly column since 2002.
In late 2006 and early 2007, Malkin was a leading voice among several right-wing bloggers who questioned both the credibility and the existence of Iraqi police captain Jamil Hussein, who had been used as a source by the Associated Press in over 60 stories about the Iraq war. The controversy began in November 2006 when the AP reported that six Iraqis had been burned alive as they left a mosque and that four mosques had been destroyed, citing Hussein as one of its sources. The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior and the United States military initially denied Hussein existed, leading Malkin and others to dispute the AP's reporting.
In January 2007 the AP reported that the Ministry had acknowledged Hussein's existence, and that authorities were seeking his arrest for having spoken to the press. Malkin reported the Iraqi government's confirmation. According to The Washington Post, Malkin also "expressed regret", though media scholar Arthur S. Hayes wrote in his 2008 book Press Critics are the Fifth Estate that her post "contains no apology or words of regret from her".
On January 21, Malkin published an op-ed in the New York Post, in which she wrote that she and Eason Jordan had traveled to Iraq the previous week and found that the mosques that Hussein had described as "destroyed", "torched", and "burned and [blown] up" were "still standing". She wrote that this brought into question the credibility of all AP stories citing Hussein. HuffPost wrote that "the photographic and other evidence marshalled by Malkin certainly gives credence to the claims that the mosques were at least 'torched' and 'burned'".
For 17 years, Malkin was a featured speaker for Young America's Foundation (YAF). On November 14, 2019, during a YAF-sponsored speech at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Malkin praised white nationalist political commentator Nick Fuentes. In the same speech, she spoke supportively of the Proud Boys, Laura Loomer, and former Iowa Republican Representative Steve King. YAF cut ties with Malkin on November 18, saying, "there is no room in mainstream conservatism or at YAF for holocaust deniers, white nationalists, street brawlers, or racists". Organizers at Bentley University also canceled a scheduled book promotion event after the incident.
Malkin has spoken at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). She was a featured speaker in 2019, and her anti-immigration speech, in which she condemned the "ghost" of John McCain, drew controversy. In 2020, Malkin spoke at the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), an event organized by Nick Fuentes that was described by Rolling Stone as the "right-wing extremist answer to CPAC". She also received press credentials to attend CPAC 2020, but did not speak at the conference. She spoke again at AFPAC 2021.
- 2016 Katz Award