Politicians, pundits and other Twitter users react to reports of a formal impeachment inquiry.
Matt Drudge. Never seen in public. There's a reason for that.
Yourselves!" read the banner headline on Breitbart.com Wednesday
morning, summing up what much of the right-wing news world thinks of the
congressional impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump that had
been launched the previous day.
psychotic anti-Trump hysteria has now completely overtaken the entire
Democratic Party," Fox News anchor and Trump booster Sean Hannity told
nearly 4 million viewers Tuesday.
think anytime a Republican is elected president, there must have been
something 'illegitimate' going on," Kevin D. Williamson wrote in the
National Review Thursday.
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far, so typical. This is, after all, the umpteenth Trump scandal to set
the country's mainstream news outlets on fire while conservatives roll
But there's one
conspicuous exception: The Drudge Report has for the last three days
been spewing ALL CAPS, bolded, underlined, and sometimes bright-red
headlines that sound terribly grim for the president.
"REPUBLICAN CRACKS EMERGE"
"AMERICA BRACES FOR IMPEACHMENT"
were presumably written by the elusive Matt Drudge, who has been
courted by Republican presidents and would-be presidents since he helped
bring about President Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998 using exactly
the same website and screaming all-capital type. In some ways Drudge's
fervent coverage of "IMPEACHMENT 2019" is a return to form. But it's
also an extraordinary break between the right-wing internet's godfather
and its favorite president.
who could not be reached for comment, exploded out of obscurity during
the Clinton era, when he turned his political gossip blog into a fount
of juicy scoops about the president.
... MORE THAN 75 PIXS THAT SHOW LEWINSKY/CLINTON TOGETHER!" read a
typical headline. "LEWINSKY THREATENED SUICIDE OVER CLINTON."
media watchdogs complained that Drudge's scoops often proved imaginary,
but Drudge nevertheless broke the news on Jan. 17, 1998, that Newsweek
was sitting on a story about Clinton's relationship with White House
intern Monica Lewinsky, which helped elevate an obscure D.C. rumor to
front-page news and congressional intervention.
then became more or less the spiritual founder of and gatekeeper to the
emerging conservative internet. "Call it the Drudge effect," Chris
Cillizza wrote in The Washington Post in 2007, after the website
disrupted Rudy Giuliani's campaign for the Republican presidential
nomination by leaking an old video of him praising abortion rights.
favor became almost a necessity for any Republican who wanted to win or
keep national office. The New York Times reported that the campaigns of
both President George W. Bush and the party's 2012 nominee, Mitt
Romney, employed unofficial emissaries to Drudge, tasked with keeping
him and his millions of readers on their side.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had one in her 2008 primary fight:
consultant Tracy Sefl, who was nicknamed the "Drudge Whisperer" for her
ability to get positive Clinton headlines on the site.
been a big mistake for conservatives to assume that Drudge is not
pliable," Sefl told The Washington Post. "His loyalties are to himself
and to the site, not to the party."
But on the whole, the Drudge Report has reliably derided Democrats and championed Republicans.
Trump was no different, at first.
the final weeks of his presidential race with Hillary Clinton in 2016,
the Drudge Report ran oversized headlines falsely claiming her husband
Bill had a secret love child.
The site announced Trump's inauguration with a two-word, plus-seven size headline: "AMERICA AGAIN!"
has returned the affection, once taking a break from his State of the
Union preparations to tweet an image of the Drudge Report, which had
just dubbed him "TEFLON DONALD." His campaign has gone so far as to send
fundraising emails that mimic the website's typewriter/ransom-letter
It's unclear what, if
anything, caused the Drudge-Trump bond to fray this summer. CNN's Oliver
Darcy noticed it last month, pointing out in newsletters that Drudge
had been hammering Trump over economic news for several consecutive
And then came Tuesday's impeachment announcement, and the deluge of red, bold and underlined Drudgelines:
"COMPLAINT ALLEGES COVER-UP"
"DEMS SPEED IT UP"
may be a strange thing to say, but Drudge is making a journalistic
decision here," said Tom Rosenstiel, the executive director of the
American Press Institute. "Not only is he leaning in, but the places
he's linking to are an interesting range: The Hill. MSNBC. It's not just
Ann Coulter; it's also Peggy Noonan," referring to the far-right and
more moderate commentators, respectively.
a weather vane, in a sense. If you're a Republican or conservative or
an operative and you're trying to see which way the wind is blowing, the
tone of Drudge has to have an effect on you. This is a signal. This is
Sefl, the Hillary Clinton
campaign adviser, didn't find Drudge's break with Trump very surprising
given his involvement with the country's previous impeachment scandal.
"A story of this magnitude is his caffeine," she said.