The Drudge Report falls from grace with the GOP, the Trump right wing and the Trump media circus.
There’s been a bit of reporting for the last half a year about Matt Drudge, reclusive web publisher of the famous / infamous news and gossip aggregation site named after himself, the “Drudge Report”, falling from grace with the political right. I tucked it away in the fridge to look into later to see if it was just a blip on the radar screen or if it was more of a realignment of the partisan currents.
Fox News had a segment hosted by Jesse Watters that hashed over a perceived change in tone on the Drudge Report, shifting from a predominance of fawning articles about Trump for the first 2 years of his presidency, to featuring links, not to right wing commentary sites, or what we in the world of facts, would legitimately term, “fake news” or propaganda web platforms – in favor of legacy media reports on Trump.
Weirdly, or perhaps not inconsistently, Watters described the contrast between Drudge’s earlier treatment of Trump and the more recent shift, in terms of a love affair gone bad and one party now seeing other people.
Watters, speaking of the news links Drudge has begun presenting as headlines, said, “You know, that’s what you log on to CNN.com for. . . . It just seems like the website has recently played up Trump gaffes and downplayed his success.”
Howard Kurtz was the guest media analyst, but apart from some speculation, neither he or Watters could arrive at a firm conclusion that Drudge, since late Summer at least, has changed course quite notably. Watters and Kurtz’ reaction to Drudge was fairly mild mannered and complimentary, in comparison to the blowback Drudge is getting elsewhere.
They did allude that there existed a sense among Trump voters that the central purpose of existence for the Drudge Report, was as a repository of either exclusively puff pieces about the president, or vehement attacks on what they would term the “liberal media”.
This was a sense that Trump himself held about the role of the Drudge Report in disseminating predominantly rosy material about him:
“Drudge is great, by the way. Matt Drudge is a great gentlemen who really… he’s got an ability to capture the stories people want to see.” – June 15, 2018
The expectation apparently was, that the Drudge Report was some sort of a firewall against any and all evidence based sources that contradicted what Trump has been telling his voters for 3 years.
Any chink in that perception is considered a massive betrayal, according to Drudge’s new critics, such as Rush Limbaugh and others of his ilk. Trump himself, according to West Wing sources, has even assigned Jared Kushner, his leeching son-in-law, to “look into” why Drudge has been posting so many unflattering links about his impeachment liabilities that ramped up in approximately the past year and a half.
Now, some minor players and some who have not been players of any sort, have popped up and are promoting competing Drudge styled aggregation sites intended to woo away the Trump faithful to themselves.
There are a handful of right wing alternatives that have been identified in this category, such as “WhatFinger”, “Rantingly” and “GabTrends” – a launch from the Gab social media network so in vogue with White Nationalists – and a platform for racism and extremism that the owner glibly categorizes as “free speech”.
“What happened to Matt Drudge?” asked Gateway Pundit, which proclaimed that Drudge “Continues to push corrupt anti-Trump news.” The owner of that website, Jim Hoft, it should be noted, has been in the business of ‘pushing’ corrupt conspiracy theories for several years.
Salon writer, Shira Tarlo notes thata prominent right-wing conspiracy theorist, who narrowly dodged an indictment from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has repeatedly tweeted about the change in Drudge’s tone alongside the hashtag “#DumpDrudge.” He has argued that Drudge has “lost his mind,” “turned left“ and become a “leftist hack beating [the] impeachment drum.”
To further illustrate the sense of cognitive dissonance over Drudge’s alleged abandonment of Trump, it was reported that a small cabal of anonymous Silicon Valley conservative entrepreneurs were sending out emails to feel out Trump supporters on a possible creation of a Drudge competitor site.
In the messages dubbed, “Free Matt Drudge” remarked that, “We love Matt Drudge and know the only way the Drudge Report would have gone so far left is if he was being held hostage in some progressive’s basement. For this reason, we demand his immediate release without condition,”
Dan Bongino, operator of the “Bongino Report” is a former Secret Service agent, and three time washout in races for the House and Senate, who has entertained right wing readers with an inflammatory but fact deficient red meat blog site and a satellite radio program for a few years.
Bongino – emphasis on the bong part, now sees an opening for another Drudge clone that affixes itself to the hull of the U.S.S. Donald Trump like an ass barnacle.
To give you a sense of Bongino’s objectivity and truthfulness, he’s been a frequent guest on “Info Wars” and has stated regarding his priorities – “My entire life right now is about owning the libs. That’s it.” Of the “Bongino Report”, Bongino tells Twitter followers, “Drudge has abandoned you. I NEVER will.”
Having not visited Drudge Report at all for probably well over 4 years, I was curious to take a gander to see what the uproar from the Trumposphere and the rest of the right wing was all about, so I have clicked over and saw pretty much what I expected to see.
And what I expected to see was that Drudge has simply balanced out the links between conservative reporting from the more reputable end of that spectrum and other less ideological sources.
The expanded mix includes moderate / centrist content from legacy media (NY Times, WaPo, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, etc.), international sources such as Reuters, various British online dailies, a variety of umpire like political oriented sites such as The Hill and Politico, network content (CNN, ABC, NBC, etc.), some center left (ie. Axios) and some other fairly straight shooters like the Wall Street Journal and PBS.
This is the problem for the Trump cult. Drudge has eased off on the sort of Trump fawning agit prop sites they make a steady diet of.
He still sprinkles in something from Gateway Pundit and some of that ilk, but nowhere near the frequency of 2016 and of 2017 / 2018 and not enough, apparently, to satisfy the appetite for Trump mobbed up, bot driven Charlie Foxtrot clickbait, including that which we learned just last September is coming out of … Ukraine!
Matt Drudge now looks a bit more like Matt Dillon, (the sheriff on classic Western era TV’s “Gunsmoke” to you non-boomers), than a corrupt law man in Aggregation City. Drudge might have lost some clicks, but he’s regaining some credibility.
That’s a good swap in my book.