The author of a newly released biography on enigmatic “Drudge Report” founder Matt Drudge dismissed speculation that the longtime right-wing icon—whose influence is credited with helping both Barack Obama and Donald Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton—had sold out.
Drudge himself, who has grown increasingly reclusive since his site exploded in the late 1990s after breaking the Monica Lewinsky scandal, refused to be interviewed for journalist Matthew Lysiak’s The Drudge Revolution.
But Lysiak, in an e-mail interview with Headline USA, said he’s convinced that the fedora-doffing kingmaker is still very much at the helm, despite a discernible leftward shift in the site’s political orientation over the past year.
“Matt’s leftward shift is a business calculation,” Lysiak said. “And by the looks of his page views, not a very good one.”
Drudge’s page views are now half what they were at the site’s zenith, around 2015, when he was averaging 30-35 million views per month.
Lysiak said the spread of social media has cut into traffic. However, he still credited Drudge’s “genius as a businessman” for his decades of media dominance and profits to the tune of $100 million.
Moreover, Drudge has proven he still has the power to drive a media narrative, including his recent, uncorroborated suggestion that the president may have had a mini-stroke.
Lysiak said he did not have any information on whether Drudge—who worked closely with Trump advisors Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon during the 2016 presidential campaign—had a falling out with the president.
But he was certain that even facing the possibility of waning influence, Drudge would never offer up the controlling interest his eponymous brainchild.
“Matt will continue to do what he believes is best for his website, and his desire to stay relevant, whether that means shifting back to the right or going more to the left,” Lysiak said. “But he has been successful in at least one measure, everyone is talking about Matt Drudge again.”
Lysiak also seemed confident, based on Drudge’s past tendencies and the accounts of those who know him best, that the current political realignment will not last forever.
“Matt’s leftward shift is temporary,” he said. “Matt knows the writing’s on the wall.”
Even without the added intrigue of Drudge’s massive reach in the political realm, Lysiak’s portrait reads like a compelling page-turner.
Using more than 200 firsthand interviews and hundreds more primary source records, from yearbooks to court documents, he delves into Drudge’s troubled childhood in suburban Maryland, the “open secret” of his sexuality, his salad days as a Dumpster-diving Hollywood gossip-slinger, and his personal friendships with a who’s who of conservative thought leaders including Andrew Breitbart, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham.
Although Drudge previously had written a memoir of his own, 2000’s Drudge Manifesto, the book offered woefully little insight into his fascinating life, opting instead to publish poetry and fan mail.
Yet, one of the few things to remain consistent in the intervening 20 years has been Drudge’s own aversion to the spotlight, which has gone from Walter Winchell to full-blown Howard Hughes.
“There isn’t a single individual in our generation who has had more of an impact on the way we consume news than Matt Drudge and no one knew anything about the guy,” Lysiak said. “Barely had a picture taken in the past ten years.”
Filling in the past two decades of Drudge’s media reign was something of a personal challenge for the veteran New York Daily News reporter-turned-biographer.
“I wish I could tell you I wrote this book to illuminate the world,” Lysiak said.
“I didn’t,” he continued. “I wrote this book because I needed to personally know how this one man, who came from a highly dysfunctional family and with no formal education, was able to completely revolutionize how we gather information and usurp the media establishment of the day.”
And while he may not have received a nod yet from the site of the man who inspired all the effort, it has opened considerable doors for him on the other side of the dictaphone, where Lysiak has been a featured guest of prominent media personalities like Tucker Carlson (who also makes cameo appearances in the book).
Lysiak said the big-screen could be in the near future … with or without the OK from his subject, who once told George Clooney he could not feature the “Drudge Report” in the background of the HBO series K Street.
“The movie is on the way,” Lysiak said. “The rights have been sold. Stay tuned.”