Donald Trump made his displeasure with Matt Drudge known on Monday morning via his favorite mode of communicating and for disseminating presidential fiats: He tapped out a tweet that blasted Drudge — an early Trump champion whose eponymous news aggregation site was an original safe space for the president’s supporters — for being “a confused MESS.” Trumplandia has moved on from him, Trump’s tweet continued, after the president over the weekend had already accused the original master of clickbait of no longer being “hot.”
Conservative media personalities have similarly piled on, with commentator Mark Levin tweet over the weekend about Drudge no longer being sufficiently on Team Trump — meaning, too many negative Trump headlines on Drudge’s site that’s nothing but an assortment of clickable headlines — and for betraying the “conservatives who made his site popular.” Continued Levin, “There’s no longer any reason for the existence of that website.”
What does all this mean for the powerful media ecosystem as a whole that caters to the MAGA faithful? As I write these words, the headline at the very top of the Drudge Raporu teases a story from Tepesi that itself is drawn from reporting in Bob Woodward’s new bookbaşlıklı Öfke, which everybody is still talking about: “Trump now says he ‘up-played’ virus threat,” the headline exclaims, “after having told Woodward he wanted to ‘play it down.’”
To be sure, we’ve seen this movie before. To be more specific, it’s that so many of the stars in Trump’s orbit have been here before — the predictable pattern being that the president sours on aides and allies, as well as networks, newspapers and media figures, with such regularity for it to become a kind of default state. Not that Drudge’s excommunication should come as a surprise — or be presented as a media story suggestive of some sort of fissure in Trump World. Indeed, Drudge himself sounded a little weary of being on the team months ago in an interview with a dogged writer from the Columbia Gazeteciliği İncelemesi, who showed up at Drudge’s front door in south Florida and noted later in a phone conversation with him that Drudge had gone “all-in” on Trump in 2016.
“That was three years ago,” Drudge replied, cryptically.
Like so much of the breathless media coverage that involves the president in any way, as well as all who are connected to him, this is a media story that it’s easy and tempting to draw some overly simplistic conclusions from. To help make some sense of this, I talked to Matthew Lysiak, yazar yeni kitap başlıklı The Drudge Revolution: The Untold Story of How Talk Radio, Fox News, and a Gift Shop Clerk with an Internet Connection Took Down the Mainstream Media — which is about, for starters, how to regard Drudge in the current media landscape.
Lysiak is a former New York Daily News reporter who believes, among other things, that as social media increases in popularity “Matt’s views, as well as his influence, will continue to dwindle.”
“The biggest change at the Drudge Raporu has been in page views,” Lysiak told me. “During the 2015-2016 period, Matt was averaging between 30-35 million views a month. Now, he is averaging about half of that. Matt’s site has never been the conservative outlet many perceived it as, but (it) looks like the loss in views has caused him to tilt more dramatically in an effort to stay relevant. And it worked. Everyone is talking about Matt Drudge again, just the way he wants it.”
To his point about viewership, Wrap cited Comscore
“On one side,” Lysiak continued in an email to me, “we have millions of loyal Drudge Raporu followers, many who have been supporting Matt for twenty years or more, and on the other end we have Trump’s loyal following, and until recently these were all the same people. Something has to give — and by the looks of Matt’s page views this is a battle he is losing.”
It’s a fascinating turn of events particularly for news junkies who’ve followed the trajectory of the internet blogger who’s credited with breaking the Monica Lewinsky story during Clinton’s presidency and who Carl Bernstein once described as having an “influence unequaled” in politics.
Drudge’s editorial philosophy, Lysiak said, is best encapsulated by something he once told an editor. “‘Dürtü Raporu isn’t about riding the waves. It is about creating them.’ It is about crafting the website to maintain both relevance and profitability. From a personal standpoint, Matt describes himself as a libertarian.” And, fiery presidential tweets notwithstanding, Lysiak is still convinced, for now, that “There will always be a place for the Drudge brand in the current media landscape.”