The immense Drudge popularity comes from finding the news that people want to read; he’s not controlling anyone’s opinion.
The Washington Post does not even bother to prove the claim in their headline: “One of the busiest websites in the U.S. in 2016 regularly linked to Russia propaganda.” They show that Drudge linked to Russia Today and Sputnik News, which they allege are appendages of the Russian government. Even if it were that simple (and WaPo doesn’t argue the case), it still doesn’t follow that every story is nothing more than propaganda, or that Drudge was selecting stories that were nothing more than propaganda.
The main thrust of the story seems to be that Drudge linked to Infowars. Under that headline, that gives the impression that Infowars is Russian propaganda but gives WaPo plausible denial if they are accused of making that false and malicious allegation.
In other ways, the article simply reads like it is aimed at your grandparents. Everyone knows Drudge is popular, that Infowars argues for various conspiracies, and that RT and Sputnik News are Russian. And they choose to read them anyway.
It’s called the First Amendment!
By July 2016, according to the analysis site SimilarWeb, Matt Drudge’s link-aggregation site Drudge Report was the second-most-visited on the Internet in the United States. Over the course of the month — the month of the Republican and Democratic presidential conventions and the month of the leak of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee — SimilarWeb estimates that Drudge had 1,472,220,000 page views. That’s 1.4 billion, the equivalent of 47 views of the Drudge Report every second of every minute that month.
Being the second-most-visited site, incidentally, means that Drudge had more page views than Yahoo, Disney (including ABC and ESPN) and Time Warner. It had more than the New York Times and The Washington Post, combined — with enough space left over to also outpace Hearst.
By December, Drudge had fallen to third, the position it had held for most of 2016. That month, though, the number of page views had climbed to 1.83 billion. That’s as though 58 people loaded Drudge Report every second that month.
Translated into universally accessible terms, the Drudge Report was a traffic behemoth during the 2016 election. And every time the page was loaded last year (and today, should you visit), there were two direct links to the conspiracy-theory-hawking site Infowars.
Buried in the story they admit that the readers, not Drudge, are in control.
There are probably two reasons that the Drudge Report linked to these sites with regularity. The first is that Drudge’s taste in news often tends toward the more exotic; he clearly understands the sorts of things that people like to read. The other is that Drudge himself seems to share some of the same sense of impending apocalypse and systemic collapse that undergirds a lot of the reports from these sites. [Emphasis added]
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