Matt Drudge, an influential figure in conservative media, sours on Trump as he faces impeachment

Source: CNN | October 9, 2019 | Oliver Darcy

New York (CNN Business) – President Donald Trump, facing an ever-deepening scandal that threatens to swallow his presidency, appears to have lost a key ally in conservative media: The Drudge Report.

The narrative-setting news aggregation website, founded in 1995 by Matt Drudge, has spotlighted an overwhelming amount of negative news for the Trump White House in the last several weeks. It’s marked a major shift from how the outlet had previously covered the President.

“He’s reacting to changing circumstances,” a person close to the media mogul, who said Drudge had grown exasperated with Trump, told CNN Business.

This should worry Trump as he faces an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives for pushing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic presidential contender, and Biden’s son Hunter.

In the coming weeks and months, right-wing media will be crucial to whether Trump is able to survive the growing scandal. If he loses support in that space, it would offer Republicans wiggle room to turn on him, which could endanger his presidency.

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Not only is Drudge’s website aggressively covering the impeachment news, it is doing so by featuring commentary from some of the president’s fiercest critics or the harshest criticism of him.

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Even Rush Limbaugh, a friend of Drudge’s, has commented on the matter. In late August, Limbaugh told a caller in that he’s repeatedly been asked about the matter. “My email inbox every day, ‘What’s happening to Drudge, Rush?'” Limbaugh said. “And I tell people, ‘Have you ever heard of clicks?'”

After suggesting Drudge could be turning on Trump for web traffic, Limbaugh said, “I actually don’t know,” adding that as a “professional courtesy” he doesn’t “ask him.”

It’s not clear whether Drudge had a falling out with the White House that prompted his change in coverage. After Trump ascended to the Oval Office, Drudge was known to visit the White House, spending time with the President, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump.

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One explanation for Drudge’s aggressive coverage could be that he wants to play a role in a second presidential impeachment. Drudge rose to notoriety during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, famously breaking the news of Clinton’s relationship with then-intern Monica Lewinsky.

“Impeachment is where Matt Drudge entered,” the person close to Drudge told CNN Business. “This is a great story. And Drudge is breaking out the popcorn.”

Ziegler offered another theory.

“My basic view on Drudge is that people mistake him as an ideologue,” said Ziegler. “Matt Drudge loves chaos. And impeachment is chaos.”

Another suggestion, from a second person close to Drudge, was that it’s a story consistent with the overarching theme of the website.

“It’s the swamp,” said the person. “The dirty nature of politics. I think it’s not inconsistent.”

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