Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri, According to Drudge

"Today Matt Drudge can influence the news like Walter Cronkite did," Mark Halperin said in a 2006 interview promoting his new book, cowritten with John Harris, who had not yet founded Politico. "If Drudge says something, it may not lead everybody instantly in the same direction, but it gets people thinking about what Matt Drudge wants them to think about." A late entry in the literature of the Drudge mythology, but a representative one: Drudge drives the news! All hail Drudge, the rascal.

Eight years later, his site looks and feels the same. The same people read it: The establishment crew maybe a little less; the paranoiacs maybe a little more. He has settled into a groove, now that Barack Hussein Obama is president, and it finally feels like we're starting to get to know the real Matt. Here is his coverage of the events in Ferguson, Missouri, according to the site snapshots at

9th, 1813

August 9th, Saturday: Drudge is on autopilot. Floating somewhere between these two links, which remained untouched about two days, are the words "race war."

11th, 0600

August 11th, Monday, early morning: The situation has escalated. "LOOTING" makes its first appearance; so, too, does the Drudge favorite, Literally Burning America.

11th, 12001

August 11th, noon: The first splash. The coding is dense: Unrest in the heartland; a non-white person taking something that isn't his. This coverage isn't early, exactly, but Ferguson wasn't front page news on most sites — this photo, and caption, are likely readers' first impression of the situation MO.

11th, 1200

The accompanying link rail, on the left side of the page, is laser-focused Drudge: LOOTING; STOLEN; TORCHED; revolution. Businesses are under attack. This is the first appearance of the name "Trayvon Martin." Obama, too. "Post-Racial."

11th, 2200

August 11th, final edition: An early Drudge narrative is now clear. It is a mixture of "white memory of LA riots" and "white memory of Trayvon Martin." Robin Williams has died, and Ferguson has been pushed off the top of the page.

12th, 1000

August 12th, Tuesday, morning: The link list is still a harmonious orchestra of dog whistles: looting, riot, vandalism, fear, standing guard, shoe store. The list is now capped on both ends: A "knockout game" story above; stories about Hispanic people identifying as white, a racist-not-racist app for avoiding "sketchy" neighborhoods. A faint suggestion of black militancy serves as a footnote.

12th, later

August 12th, midday: Drudge suggests that the hordes are now descending on Ferguson, to loot.

12th, final

August 12th, final edition: Jackson and Sharpton appear on the page, where they are promptly mocked. Guns. The splash now reads:


13th, midm

August 13th, morning: Back at the top of the page.

13th, midm2

Here Drudge's unease about the police intensifies. He begins to become incoherent. The police are fighting the protesters, who he loathes by default; but they are powerful, and represent the state. Imagine the protesters were mostly white, etc.

13th, lunch

A few hours later: Off the top of the page. The new headline: "Doubtfire did it"

13th, dinner

The link list shrinks, a new narrative crystalizes: Drudge has settled, for now, on state power. "Militarized cops." The Pentagon is involved now. Conspiracy.

13th, final

August 13th, final edition: It is no longer possible to hold onto the standard Drudge narratives. Reporters have been arrested, there are now dozens on the scene. Drudge seems to freeze. He attempts to sum up America's history, as it relates to race, without violating his core principles: "T E N S E."

13th, final2

Race war. Sympathy for non-whites, insofar as they are unhappy with black leaders.

14th, morning

August 14th, morning: A new narrative path forward. Big government versus violent protesters. "Molotov." The splash is soon replaced by a story about "HILLARY'S HORRIBLE SUMMER."

And now here we are! Developing…, etc.

Drudge was early on this story—his favorite tropes were all there. Too many of them, in fact, in conflict with one another. So does Drudge still run the news, somehow, in 2014? Does he still "set the tone?"


*Halperin's quote to conclude the 2006 interview: "Matt Drudge is not doing stories on policy, on welfare, on healthcare. He's doing stories on the most salacious aspects of American politics."

10 Comments / Post A Comment

roundsquare (#285,602)

Really, drudge linked to liberal and conservative sources for his headlines.There is no bias in his reportingm what is wrong with you? He mentions the riots (yes they are riots, people were destroying private and government property) and like it or not the perpetrators were black. He mentions accurately that an unarmed kid was shot. He highlighted the heavy military presence. There is no narrative here, you see what you want to see. Drudge accurate covered the unfolding events in Ferguson, Mo. First there was a shooting, then riots by mostly black people, and finally a heavy police presence.

tryanmax (#285,608)

@roundsquare I agree to a point. I'm not seeing the bias in this particular slew of headlines. In fact, it's somewhat laughable that a link aggregator is credited with driving the narrative, since his medium is partially limited to what others have already produced. That isn't to say that Drudge can't and hasn't manipulated headlines to push an agenda, but this is a particularly poor example of it. If you ask me, "dog whistle" is the ultimate dog whistle. (Same for "code word.") It tells readers/listeners to consider whatever was said, no matter how plain or benign, as racist.

tryanmax (#285,608)

P.S. speaking of code words, in conservative/libertarian circles "militarized police" doesn't mean the Pentagon. The term is actually critical of the overuse of SWAT tactics by local law enforcement. If the author wants to claim code words, he can at least try to get them right.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@roundsquare "First there was a shooting, then riots by mostly black people, and finally a heavy police presence."

First we elected a black president, and now look at all this shit. Got it.

473091060@twitter (#285,640)

Drudge is nothing more than a news aggregate site. Stories from many sources – not Matt Drudge himself. It is much more objective than sites like Huff Post, Media Matters and all the Left wing blogs that only spew conspiracies, hatred of anything not Liberal/Progressive, agenda driven stories, rewriting history and complete lack of fairness or objectivity.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@473091060@twitter I don't think you are that stupid, so why do you think the rest of us are? It's absolutely possible to create your own story by creating a list of links to other stories. Matt Drudge is obviously doing what the right wing has been doing since 2008 election: trying to create an impression that the country is falling apart, and it's all Obama's fault. Heck he even has "Fuck you, Obama" right in there. I know "someone else said it and reported it, and he is only linking to it", but you have to be a complete moron to not understand that Matt Drudge is picking out these things to create a narrative of a country descending into race war, and it's all because we have a black president now.

It's racist propaganda, end of story.

KarenUhOh (#19)


Yeah, right. Fair and Balanced not the least bit Fucked-up and Biased.

Zebram Zee@facebook (#285,700)

I'm sure Matt Drudge attempts to influence the news reporting with salacious and inflammatory headlines. But as someone who doesn't pledge allegiance to either conservative or liberal ideologies, this is nothing different from what virtually all sides of the political spectrum do. The only difference is they are either not as skilled or do so in a much more subtle manner. Of course hypocrites from the other side will feign outrage anyway.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Zebram Zee@facebook "this is nothing different from what virtually all sides of the political spectrum do. "

Racists and bigots are NOT "a side of the political spectrum". Inciting outrage against people's skin color is NOT the same as inciting outrage against bigotry.

KarenUhOh (#19)

I'm too dense to confirm whether I'm a "hypocrite," but I kind of feel I'm not "feigning" anything when I get my shorts in a bunch about blatantly slanting "news" in order to bring susceptible souls to a boil.

I wonder if Drudge linked to Rembert Browne's piece in Grantland from today.

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