What is going on at Drudge Report?
The NOQ Report noted over the weekend that the Drudge Report has lost almost a third of its regular visitors since the summer. This observation came a week after Rasmussen Reports called attention to a rumor that Matt Drudge had sold his eponymous media behemoth some time ago. Does it make more sense that one of the savviest communicators of information in the history of the world (no exaggeration when you think of the sheer number of ideas he has used to change minds; affect populations; and influence leaders, movements, and governments for twenty-five years) decided to burn his creation down in nihilistic rage and madness, or that some other person or entity is now directing the show in his name?
I suppose time will tell. It does remind me an awful lot, though, of the Left's long tradition of capturing institutions that threaten its hold on power by seducing, intimidating, or converting the people who run them. It's plausible that a reclusive genius might take inexplicable pleasure in destroying what he created. It's even possible that Drudge is so committed to his personal beliefs that he is willing to sacrifice the lifeblood of his power by advancing media narratives that turn off visitors to his site. If the latter is true, though, his legacy as a master scrimshawer of stories with the faculty to subtly shift social consciousness disappears. He becomes just another town crier standing on the street corner, hiding behind a white sign with big red letters proclaiming, "The End is Nigh."
On the other hand, if I were a ruthless billionaire bent on world domination and concluded that the Drudge Report had stolen an imminently winnable presidential election from my favored candidate, then I might ask myself just what combination of sticks and carrots may be required to make me the new super-silent proprietor of the most successful engine for driving public opinion in the world. Would Matt Drudge promise to quietly sell me his beloved website while promising never to reveal that "the switch" was in? What would it take? One billion dollars in cash? Ten billion dollars in cash? There is no price too high for the privilege of owning yourself, you say? Well, what if I told you that I had personally helped elect district attorneys all across our great land with the jurisdictional strength to turn over any rock or look into any nook or cranny you might have long forgotten? Are you sure every tax return was complete? Every red light camera obeyed? How about any document ever signed by your father, grandmother, or childhood friend?
That sounds like extortion, you say. Time to bring in the FBI to make sure the guilty are punished and the innocent feel safe. Except the last FBI director committed fraud upon the FISA Court while participating in a conspiracy to bring down the sitting American president. And the FBI director before him took down a three-star general who had served his country in the U.S. Army for thirty-three years and as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency by threatening the freedom of his son. And the current director of the FBI finds it more troubling and offensive that normal Americans have lost trust in the FBI than the actual, documented corruption on display from his bureau. Just spitballing here, but under that set of conditions, a billion-dollar payday with a promise to stay quiet doesn't sound all that bad for a guy whose privacy has meant as much as his life's work. We'll see, I know.
But then there are all those Republican congressmen who retired before the midterms and who are bailing from government right now. There's no way something like this might be playing out in their lives as well, right? I mean, how many conservatives can possibly be intimidated or bought off or provided sinecures at The Dispatch? Would that take more than one billionaire or more local district attorneys? It's too bad there's no federal agency that specializes in justice that might be willing to help these poor people out. Maybe if we started a 1-800 number hotline where such coercion could be reported or ran a PBS fundraiser for the victims, more conservatives would come out of the shadows and tell us their stories. Maybe.