Once upon a time, in a political era far, far away, a scrappy news aggregation website was launched to speak truth to the power of President Bill Clinton’s administration. Founded in 1995, the Drudge Report came to prominence after it blew the lid off the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which rocked the nation and led to impeachment by Republicans in Congress.
Journalist Matt Drudge started the site as a gossip column that focused primarily on Washington, DC, and Hollywood, the other swamp. It was known as a decidedly conservative outfit over the years. But recently, it appears the site has defected to the progressive cause.
Drudge Takes a Turn
The Drudge Report is not a news site in the traditional sense – it includes hyperlinks to other news sites embedded in headlines written by Drudge or members of his editorial team. In a 2001 interview with the Miami New Times, he described himself as a conservative who is “very much pro-life.” “If you go down the list of what makes up a conservative, I’m there almost all the way,” he said.
During the 2016 presidential race, the Drudge Report threw its support behind Donald Trump during the Republican primaries, even before other right-leaning news outlets had embraced the then-candidate. Indeed, even Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was running against Trump at the time, referred to it as “an attack site for the Donald Trump campaign.” Bob Sutton, an ally of the former president, told the Columbia Journalism Review that “Drudge was an early supporter of our grassroots effort with Trump.”
After winning the 2016 election, Trump complimented Drudge and even hosted him at the White House. However, this relationship was destined to collapse after the former president failed to fulfill some of his promises – especially regarding immigration.
Drudge, along with other hardliners like conservative commentator Ann Coulter, slammed Trump for failing to complete the wall at the southern border, which was one of his most popular campaign promises. In one instance, the site posted a headline noting that there was “no new wall at all.” The Columbia Journalism Review noted:
“Following that opening salvo, his hits on Trump began stacking up … Drudge warned that big government had expanded on Trump’s watch, that his ‘trash talk’ turned off suburban women, that farmers were struggling and that the president was ruining markets with his trade wars.
“And since the impeachment proceedings began, Drudge has gone further anti-Trump, pounding him day after day.”
But now, if his website is any indication, Drudge might have drifted even further away from the right into the eager arms of the left. Other prominent conservatives have taken notice and slammed him for this perceived betrayal. Fox News host Tucker Carlson, in a 2020 interview, said that Drudge “is now firmly a man of the progressive left” and claimed that “his site is indistinguishable from The Daily Beast or any other woke propaganda outlet posing as a news company.”
Dan Bongino, another Fox News host, posted a tweet the same year announcing the creation of the Bongino Report, a would-be rival to Drudge’s site. “Drudge has abandoned you. I NEVER will,” Bongino declared.
The Drudge Report, over the past three years, has not only attacked conservatives but also posted content complimentary of the Biden administration. On Jan. 9, the site was emblazoned with a banner headline: “Record Number of Americans Employed” and featured an image of a beaming President Joe Biden.
What Will Happen to the Drudge Report?
While the Drudge Report had been one of the most significant news aggregation sites in the nation, its influence has waned. Axios reported that “the number of unique monthly visitors to the site has declined by 57% from 2018 to 2021.”
It appears that pandering to the far left isn’t quite as lucrative as it might seem. Or, perhaps the Drudge Report has finally worn out its welcome while other sites are on the rise. The news aggregator was a beacon of what was to come when it was launched in the mid-1990s.
Alternative media have gradually become more relevant than even establishment press organizations. The past two decades have seen a substantial shift in how America creates and consumes its news. Perhaps the Drudge Report’s decline has more to do with the increase in competition than its leftward tilt.
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