(photo credit: Courtesy)
Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins in November’s US presidential election, Matt Drudge is likely to be seen by many as the media personality who had the most influence on the outcome.
Drudge began his now-famous Drudge Report, a politically conservative news aggregation website, 20 years ago as an email newsletter to friends. He has since become the third-largest media publisher in the United States, garnering more than one billion page-views a month.
The Drudge Report is now a very pared-down, single-page website consisting of a few dozen headlines that link to other news outlets. It is the main source of traffic for the biggest news websites in the US, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Drudge sees himself as an outsider in the world of news, but his editorial decisions often determine which stories will dominate the news cycle. He describes himself as neither Democrat nor Republican, but the majority of his readers lean to the right and there is a clear narrative to the stories he chooses and the headlines he gives them.
Political pundits have said that Drudge holds so much sway over the conservative media that he alone could have thwarted Trump’s candidacy in favor of a more traditional Republican, had he chosen to highlight negative stories about the presidential hopeful. According to this narrative, if Trump wins, it’s because Drudge chose only to post positive stories about him. If Clinton wins, it’s because Drudge didn’t use his sway over conservative voters and the conservative media to nip Trump’s candidacy in the bud early on and give another Republican with a better chance of beating Clinton the Republican nomination.
The reclusive Drudge once had a television and radio show, but has not been photographed or filmed in recent years and rarely acquiesces to interview requests.
Born on October 28, 1966, he is the son of Reform Jews from the suburbs of Washington DC. He has spoken little of his connection to Judaism other than to refer to himself as “a failed bar mitzva.”
However, he frequently links to stories about the threat of a nuclear Iran to the Jewish state, Israel’s relations with the United States and anti-Semitism in Europe.
Investigative reporter David McClintick described him once as “a modern Tom Paine, a possible precursor to millions of town criers using the Internet to invade the turf of bigfoot journalists.”