When I get calls from radio or TV bookers, I can usually tell what is driving their narrative that day: the Drudge Report. They want me to talk about what is featured there. Matt Drudge’s aggregation website has been called the assignment editor for the new media.
I’ve found that the editorial content of the Drudge Report goes far beyond the timeline of daily events. It’s not just a list of top news stories. It is a proxy for the worldview and concerns of its founder. The choices reveal, I believe, religious, philosophical, and ideological priorities that reach far past the daily news. If you’ve read the site for two decades as I have (and the newsgroups before), you’ve noticed a darker Drudge Report emerging over the last few years.
This darker Drudge Report seems cognizant of an intensifying spiritual warfare affecting the planet. Evil seems to be on the march. Tranquility is threatened everywhere. The institutions we treasured to protect us are gone or under attack. The Drudge Report captures the quickening of this chaos, the erosion of civilizational foundations and an unmistakable battle between good and evil.
Is the associated political mood a product of these editorial choices, or the cause?
The Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier doesn’t make the list below, but he often appears on the Drudge Report. Some days when reading the site, I am reminded of von Treir’s chilling fox in the film Antichrist (a film that had its own recurring role on the Drudge Report in 2009).
As William Dafoe’s character approaches a decaying dead fox, the animal comes to life and speaks to Dafoe in a guttural demonic voice and growls, “Chaos reigns.”
But all is not chaos reigning at the Drudge Report. Sometimes it’s Honkey Cat, the Material Girl or a world-record swim. Here’s a Drudge Report alphabet of favorite topics and trends, from A to Z.
A is for Apocalypse. When the world ends, it will come with a Drudge Report siren and red font. The website is on watch – meteors, asteroids, preppers, solar flares, plauges and EMP attacks. Stories like “Forget Man Made Threats: Apocalypse Will Come from Outer Space” and “Doomsday Warning of US Apocalypse Gain Ground” have appeared among dozens of cataclysm stories. The bottom line is “man is small.” Civilizations are fleeting things, and the site seems to recognize that.
B is for Breitbart. Andrew Breitbart was a friend of mine, so much so it landed me in a deposition by the miserable Shirley Sherrod. Before I knew Breitbart, I learned about his embryonic news page. It was often at the top of Drudge: “Breitbart:” — with a story link. Once I knew Andrew and how he worked the web, I often wondered if he put them there himself. Andrew wanted to do what Drudge was doing: utterly destroy the stranglehold the mainstream media had on the narrative. You still find lots of links to Breitbart even though Andrew is gone.
C is for Clinton. Nobody has a starring role at the Drudge Report as Bill and Hillary do. Even when Hillary stumbles on the stairs, it’s at Drudge. It was Drudge and his big siren screaming one morning that launched the whole Clinton impeachment saga. Before Drudge, the collusion between the media and the president would have kept Bill’s tendencies quiet, like they did for President Kennedy.
D is for Disorder. Chaos reigns said the fox. The Drudge Report is cataloging the increasing disorder afflicting society – looting in the streets, the breakdown of the family, pastimes for idiots, disorder, mayhem, and madness. Rosy narratives are on morning sugar shows like Today, but Drudge is telling the story of what a civilization looks like when it begins to break down.
E is for Elton. You can keep tabs on the flamboyant pop star by keeping tabs on the Drudge Report. No fewer than 143 stories about Elton John have appeared at the Drudge Report. “Elton John to go Wild in Las Vegas,” “Elton John defends photo seized in porn probe,” and “Elton John: I was a monster. I’m a better person now that I’ve got children” are but three headlines over the years.
F is for FCC. Once upon a time, the left claimed to be champions of free speech. Not anymore, and Drudge is keenly interested in efforts by the FCC to stifle the free flow of ideas. Whenever the FCC acts, Drudge covers it – 448 times since 2001.
G is for Genetics. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, and few things get Drudge’s attention more than human-animal hybrids. Humans injecting animal genes, animals injecting human genes, human ears grown on pigs, tri-parent births, and on and on. This isn’t trivia either. It’s often about humans playing God, or rearranging the natural coding of life.
H is for Hollywood. News sources like the Today show and People treat Hollywood stars like glamorous philosophers. Not Drudge. He treats Hollywood like fools.
I is for Immigration. Open-borders radicalism is cataloged at the Drudge Report. So is the evil mayhem in Mexico and the flood of threats across the southern border. It may be the single issue that defined GOP politics over the last 12 months. With this emphasis, we’ve seen political figures fade away with different views toward immigration.
J is for Jihad. Unlike the president of the United States, the Drudge Report (like most in conservative media) recognizes that the mayhem on the streets of London, Paris, Orlando and Nice isn’t an accident. It’s not because of guns. It’s not due to mental illness. It’s because of an evil philosophy of struggle, and Drudge hasn’t compromised a bit on reporting the true motives.
K is for Killers. If there is a serial killer active, you’ll read about it at the Drudge Report. Perhaps it is a fascination or fear of the most wicked sort of indiscriminate evil. Headlines like “Serial Killings Stun Denver,” “Spring Breakers not worried about news of serial killer in Daytona” or even “Rita Cosby Defends Letter to Imprisoned Serial Killer,” are common, unfortunately.
L is for Lewinsky. “Drudge Ruined My Life,” read one headline. Monica Lewinsky became a household name after the Drudge Report. When others wouldn’t report her name, he did. The divergent trajectories between the two are stark. Monica is reported as an aimless, scarred figure who can never move on.
M is for Madonna. The Material Girl is a regular feature at the Drudge Report. What fun it would have been to watch Madonna’s catchy but absurd Super Bowl halftime show with Drudge. When Madonna and Elton appear in the same story, you get headlines like “Now Elton John Trashes Madonna’s Bond Them,” or “Madonna Mocks Elton’s John’s Wig.”
N is for Nutrition. Drudge catalogs the decaying and absurd nature of the human palate. Insect superfood, an Indonesian “Toilet Café,” “Teenager Allergic to All Food,” “Sausage Wielding Gang Attacks Vegan Café,” or a story of mine Drudge linked to in 2014 (“Nachos, Wings, Cheesesteaks for Obama’s Private School”). I can hear Andrew Breitbart laughing hysterically from here.
O is for Olympics. Rio, Sochi, London, Vancouver, Beijing — all got extensive coverage, most of it bad. But with the bad came coverage of some of the most touching events of the Olympics. When Michael Phelps breaks records, it makes the top of the page.
P is for Pro-Life. The Drudge Report might be the most pro-life news site on the internet apart from websites devoted exclusively to those issues. “Drone delivers abortion pills” was one headline that captured two recurring themes in one story. Drudge also covers the sickness of abortion in a way few do, from the butcher Kermit Gosnell, to “Woman Films Own Abortion to Prove Procedure Is ‘Safe’,” to the self-contained wicked irony of “University Artist: Abortion is a Gift from God.” On January 13, 2014, Drudge had a Breitbart/AP story about a Pope Francis quote. It seems to sum up the editorial view: “Abortion Evidence of ‘Throwaway Culture.’”
Q is for Queen. “Queen Parachutes In!” was the headline from London after an Elizabeth lookalike parachuted into the London Olympics’ opening ceremony. Drudge has also covered the real queen extensively. Does this reflect the American fascination with the royal family? Or, unlike President Obama’s attitude, does it reflect the understanding that Great Britain has a treasured spot in Western civilization? Or perhaps it is because Elizabeth is a living link to an era of great figures and great institutions that had no tolerance for chaos.
R is for Robots. Robot sex is a hot theme at the Drudge Report. The dissolving human bonds common in earlier generations are fueling strange new outlets, all covered by Drudge. Artificial intelligence, robot warfare, robot police, robot cars, robot lawyers, robot overlords speaking with the dead, robot spies, robot couches, robot falcons, robot revolutions, robot cheetahs, robot chauffeurs, robot insurance agents, and a robot telling an interviewer “I’ll keep you safe in my people zoo.” How many times has Matt Drudge watched Ex Machina?
S is for Satan. At the Drudge Report, Satan seems real. Don’t laugh. Justice Antonin Scalia gave an interview where he made his laughing interviewer look like the fool after Scalia mentioned Satan. Above all other editorial trends, the Drudge Report catalogs the march of evil across the Earth and in your backyard. It catalogs the rising number of exorcisms and the horrific barbarian wickedness that rules large sections of the world.
T is for Trump. What can you say that hasn’t been said?
U is for Underwater. Strange, bizarre creatures are pulled from the deepest depths of the sea and end up on the Drudge Report. “’Mutant’ sea creature with feet, tail, wings baffles Caribbean island,” “Deadly New Sea Creature Lures Fish with Red Lights,” and “Casper the Ghost-Like Octopus Discovered on Pacific Ocean Floor” are a few examples. Pulling the unknown from the bottom of the sea is a reminder that all isn’t known. The unknown and mysterious remain. Man hasn’t conquered every corner of creation.
V is for Vatican. The pope, no matter who is the pope, is a recurring character at the Drudge Report. My favorite pope story was when Pope Francis scolded people for paying too much attention to pets. To Catholics, the pope represents the heir to Christ’s designee on Earth. The often misunderstood head of the largest Christian denomination on Earth carries undeniable gravitas to millions of Christians around the world, no matter your domination.
W is for Wild. Wild animals are everywhere. “Alligators found eating human body in canal,” “Hiker dies after being stung by 1,000 bees,” and “Woman Marries Cobra” are examples of stories of the interaction between the deadly wild and man. And who can forget those few wild, disturbing days of “Bear Rape!” The stories are silly and tantalizing, but are another reminder of the smallness of man, and the fleeting nature of human life.
X is for X files. When something strange is happening, it’s at Drudge. “’Jurassic Park’-like winged creature sighted several times in Alaska,” was one headline. Lights in the sky, creature sightings, chupacabras, Loch Ness monsters, weird video from the Space Station, taxi drivers seeing ghosts after a tsunami, demons, UFOs, Ouija boards — its all at Drudge.
Y is for Yahoo News. Yahoo News is one of the top-linked sources at the Drudge Report.
Z is for Zika. Zika’s invasion, occurring first in South Florida, could be perfectly manageable, or if you are a parent of an infected infant, something far worse. Humans have conquered so many diseases in the last century that we forget that nature has new horrors waiting all the time. Once again, man is small, and a tiny bug can unleash a medical terror no matter how powerful and progressive we think we are.