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The enigma that is the Drudge Report is making headlines of its own via an exchange of shots across the bow between President Trump and Matt Drudge, the longtime news-aggregating website’s founder.
Trump lured Drudge out of his safe harbor with a tweet on Saturday in which he wrote: “I gave up on Drudge (a really nice guy) long ago, as have many others. People are dropping off like flies!”
I gave up on Drudge (a really nice guy) long ago, as have many others. People are dropping off like flies! https://t.co/L77SXS2mE8
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2020
The reclusive Drudge emerged to make a rare personal statement in an email to CNN, denying a demise in the site’s traffic, saying: “The past 30 days has been the most eyeballs in Drudge Report’s 26-year history. Heartbreaking that it has been under such tragic circumstances,” referring of course to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
During its expansive history, the Drudge Report had been seen as one of the most prominent conservative-leaning news sites on the web and was an early proponent of Trump’s presidential campaign. The site is recognized for its ability to shape and even create news cycles.
Observers have noted for the past few years a distinctly anti-Trump swing in the site’s news links and headlines.
A strong supporter of Trump during the 2016 campaign and a frequent visitor to the White House early in his presidency, Drudge has apparently lost faith in him. As early as mid-2017, Drudge took a noticeably critical stance against Trump. In July of that year, CNN reported, “Drudge has appeared irked by Trump and his White House, frustrated with the president’s inability to carry out the ambitious agenda he campaigned on. And he’s not being shy about it.”
In its story revealing Drudge’s emailed response to Trump’s claim about visitors leaving Drudge Report, CNN stated that web analytics show there have been “no significant traffic dips since January 2019.” According to the network’s source, “The data shows a significant traffic surge in March, up to 1.2 billion page views from 781 million page views in February,” coinciding with the explosive arrival of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Nonetheless, there are many conservatives who claim to be fed up with Drudge and are finding other go-to news sites more to their liking.
In November 2019, Jesse Waters and Matt Kurtz of Fox News discussed Drudge’s defection in terms of selling his soul for clicks and revenue. “I have covered Matt Drudge since he was an unknown blogger,” Kurtz said, “and at this point in his career he’s primarily interested in clicks and riding the media wave — and the media wave you may have noticed has been largely anti-Trump.”
The last time President Trump mentioned Drudge was during a February rally in Colorado. At that point, Trump was more appreciative of the coverage he was getting. “Okay, here’s Drudge Report,” Trump said. “Drudge, he’s starting to treat me good again. He’s starting to like me again. I like him.”
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