The first time I heard of Matt Drudge was in the 1990’s. I was living in Virginia and I would listen to Mary Matalin in the car. I think her show was syndicated, but it was broadcast from a station in Virginia. Matalin would have Drudge on her show to talk about the gossip in his newsletter. This was before he had a website. Not long after, he started a website and then the whole Monica Lewinsky thing blew up and Drudge became a household name. Like many people, I visit his site daily to see what’s happening in the world.
In 2012 I started to wonder if Drudge was on the level. He promoted so many pro-Romney stories, it felt like he was working for him. I get that Drudge is just right of center in his politics, so he does a lot of “counter programming” in his choice of stories, in order to keep his mostly white middle-class audience. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were the dream team of SWPL-ville civic nationalism. Therefore, it made some sense to tilt toward Romney against Obama, but his promotion of Romney struck me as a bit deceptive.
The truth is, mainstream news is 100% access journalism. If a reporter wants to get stories handed to them – and that’s how all news is done now – they have to play ball with the people making news and their appointed gatekeepers. That’s how Harvey Weinstein kept his troubles out of the news for decades. His people would give reporters gossip on celebrities so they would not spill the beans on Harv and his love for potted plants. A site like Drudge is just as beholden to that system as any other news site.
The thing with Drudge though, is he made his bones playing all sides of the street. He was willing to promote anything that was newsworthy. That meant that the Prog media was willing to dish him inside stuff on their own people. The Bezos Blog and Carlos Slim Times love it when Drudge links to them. He sends tens of millions of eyeballs to any site he links to, even if it is a side link. As a valuable promoter, in theory, he is getting all sides sending him tips on politics, current events ans the happenings in Washington.
I’m starting to wonder if that is still the case. In the last election, he was not pro-Trump. For a tabloid guy, Trump should have been manna from heaven. Instead, he tilted toward the company line about Trump. Every time the RNC howled about how Trump violated some sacred taboo, Drudge was out there with fake news stories about how the end of the Trump campaign was near. It got to be a running joke in my office. Every time Drudge had stories about how Trump went to far, you knew Trump’s polls had ticked up again.
Maybe it was a coincidence, but two elections in a row and Drudge was out pitching the RNC line. It’s almost as if someone inside the RNC is feeding Team Drudge the narrative now. That’s very obvious in the Roy Moore flap. From the start it looked like a Mitch McConnell hit job. That’s mostly because it was so ham-fisted. McConnell is not head of the Stupid Party because he is a brilliant tactician. Yet, Drudge was posting links to all the RNC sourced stories, in a way that started to look choreographed.
The topper was the fake poll leaked by the RNC and the Gloria Allred stuff. The poll was laughable. Even Democrats snickered at it. Yet Drudge had it up on his site in red for two days. Then the Allred hoax collapsed and he had nothing on it. In fact, now that Franken is the top story and it is clear the hit on Moore backfired, Drudge has suddenly forgotten the Alabama senate race. This comes as the Republicans are now hiding under their desks, wondering when the harpies will be coming for them over a sex scandal.
Now, it has to be mentioned that Drudge is a homosexual. He’s also one of the fussy sorts of gays, like Lindsey Graham, who are attracted to gentry conservatism. A southern firebrand or someone opposed to homosexual activism is going to come in for criticism by Drudge. His coverage of the South and Christians has always reflected his homosexualist sensibilities. A guy like Roy Moore, who is overtly Christian and vocally opposed to the normalization of homosexuals, is not going to be popular at the bathhouse.
Even so, in the age of access journalism, succumbing to temptation is to be expected. I’ve written before about how access journalism has turned sports reporting into company public relations departments. The same thing has happen to mass media. This is most obvious when mass media tries to cover the alt-right. The “reporters” now working in mass media don’t know the basics of news reporting. That article on Anglin is embarrassingly written and riddled with easily checked factual errors. It’s bad reporting.
Modern media people are stenographers with a social media strategy. They don’t know how to do traditional news reporting. Some are story tellers who leave gaps in their tale to place some cherry picked quotes, while others just wait for someone to hand them a story they can type up for their employer. It’s most obvious in sports reporting, but it is true all over. There’s no upside to being curious or inquisitive. That may be what has happened with Drudge. He has a good gig so he plays ball with the “news makers” now.