Year in Review: Twenty-Five Top Newsmakers of 2018

A lot happened in 2018. And a lot of people made news, from predictable heavyweights like the late John McCain to up-and-comers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As 2018 comes to a close, we took a look at the twenty-five top newsmakers of 2018 and revisited some of the year’s top stories.

Methodology: RelSci aggregates news from over 250 premium sources to deliver customized alerts on people, companies, and business topics. For this post, we looked at the number of articles from across these sources each individual was mentioned in during 2018.

#25 Rex Tillerson

The former Exxon CEO served as Secretary of State until his firing in March 2018. He and President Trump clashed often, both personally and in matters of policy.

#24 Scott Pruitt

The former EPA administrator stepped down on July 6th following a series of ethics scandals. He was known for his conservative views on climate change and his de-regulation efforts.

 #23 Bill DeBlasio 

New York mayor’s won re-election to his second term in November 2017. In 2018, he made the news often, including in stories on New York’s public housing crisis and the declining state of the subway system.

#22 Bernie Sanders

The Vermont Senator hasn’t dropped out of the limelight after his unsuccessful 2016 Presidential campaign. As Democrats continue to embrace more progressive stances, Bernie remains newsworthy.

#21 Jared Kushner

The President’s son-in-law may work behind-the-scenes at the White House, but he’s no stranger to news coverage. In 2018, Kushner’s relationship with Saudi Arabia drew increased scrutiny, as did his financial dealings.

#20 Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence has remained in the background for some of the Trump administration’s most high-profile scandals. But he still makes the top 20 newsmakers of the year, including in stories about the administration’s vision for Space Force.

#19  Nancy Pelosi

The current minority leader is poised to become Speaker of the House when the Democrats take over the majority in January 2019. She made headlines during the midterms and throughout the year as a key member of the Democratic opposition.

#18 Emmanuel Macron

The President of France made headlines throughout the year, including in April with a state visit to the United States and in recent weeks amid protests in France.

#17 James Mattis

Defense Secretary James Mattis, treated by the news media as one of the Trump Administration’s “adults in the room,” resigned in December. His published resignation letter expressed a series of disagreements with President Trump over foreign policy.

#16 Chuck Schumer

The New York Senator and Senate Minority leader made headlines alongside Nancy Pelosi as a key foil for President Trump on issues like health care and immigration.

#15 James Comey

The Former FBI Director published his memoir, A Higher Loyalty, in April 2018. His firing by President Trump in May 2017 remains under investigation.

#14 Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi was a major newsmaker this year. Xi’s storylines include trade disputes with the United States, his role in negotiations with North Korea, and China’s rapidly expanding military.

#13 Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo survived a primary challenge from actor and activist Cynthia Nixon and won re-election as New York’s Governor. He made headlines for his role in bringing Amazon’s second headquarters, HQ2, to Queens.

#12 Mark Zuckerberg

The Facebook CEO is the only one of the top newsmakers of 2018 who is neither a politician nor a government official. His headlines this year have not been entirely positive. Facebook has come under fire for how it treats user data, as well as for the role Facebook ads played in Russian election interference.

#11 Sarah Huckabee Sanders

The Press Secretary is featured prominently as the White House spokesperson on most political news stories. Sanders also made news this year as part of the ongoing debate on public civility when she was refused service at a Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.

#10 Mitch McConnell

The Senate Majority Leader is one of President Trump’s biggest congressional allies. He made headlines for several policy achievements and for successfully confirming a number of the President’s judicial nominees.

#9 Brett Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court in July 2018. His embattled confirmation process, including accusations of sexual misconduct, was one of the year’s biggest domestic news stories.

#8 Mike Pompeo

Pompeo took over as Secretary of State in April 2018 after the dismissal of Rex Tillerson. He has been a key figure in negotiations with North Korea over their nuclear weapons program.

#7 Robert Mueller

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who leads the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, is at the center of one of the year’s biggest storylines. He has released a series of indictments this year, including those of Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.

#6 George W. Bush

As a former President, Bush often has his policies compared to those of the current administration. In late 2018, he took center stage with the death of his father, Former President George H.W. Bush.

#5 Kim Jong Un

Kim leads North Korea. The country and its nuclear arsenal have been big international stories in 2018.

#4 Vladimir Putin

Putin was re-elected to the Russian Presidency in 2018. His relationship with President Trump has drawn intense media scrutiny. So have his controversial domestic and foreign policies, including ongoing activity in Ukraine.

#3 Hillary Clinton

The former Secretary of State and unsuccessful presidential candidate hasn’t fallen out of the limelight this year. Though she has no official role, she remains a major figure in American politics.

#2 Barack Obama

The former President remains in the news, and not just as a foil to President Trump. This year, he has made a number of international trips, backed gerrymandering reforms, and signed on to produce a Netflix docu-series with his wife, Michelle.

#1 Donald Trump

It’s no surprise that America’s President and tweeter-in-chief tops the list of 2018 newsmakers. President Trump has too many major storylines to count, and closes out 2018 embroiled in a partial government shutdown.

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