The New Republic, continuing the political world’s odd obsession with the Drudge Report, says its editor, Matt Drudge, has disappeared, or gone into seclusion like some latter-day Howard Hughes.
I do not think Drudge has disappeared. I think he is dead. Certainly the Drudge Report, which the New Republic claims gets “20 million hits per day” (a meaningless locution as old-fashioned as the Drudge Report itself) has been on automatic pilot for several years.
If he is not dead, he is definitely brain dead. There hasn’t been a breaking story on the site in months. Drudge, once one of the most vaunted gossips in the nation, clearly isn’t in the loop. Or he is just bored to death. He had been doing this for a decade. It is the same old Drudge Report, without improvement or variation. Or staff. Drudge may have theoretically gotten rich (“sources believe he makes millions per year off his site,” says the New Republic breathlessly, although Compete.com reports his traffic at 2.6 million visitors a month, which certainly isn’t going to make him millions), but he hasn’t built a business—it’s him alone performing the same repetitive act. (Or him and one Andrew Breitbart, a conservative blogger who seems to help him, and who has a site Drudge links to—and who exists only as an odd Drudge appendage; certainly nobody else seems to link to him.)
So why does anybody care? The New Republic article goes on at enormous length to make Drudge out to be tremendously powerful and influential, using that popular and specious measure—“read religiously by Washington's reporters, political operatives, and cable news producers.”
The Drudge prominence, at least in the mind of the New Republic, probably has to do with his alleged relationship with other high media profile conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. Drudge, in other words, is a member of the Right Wing Media Conspiracy. He’s a great specter—all the more so because of his weirdness and secrecy. Oh, and his gayness—to hide from the press is one reason the New Republic believes he’s disappeared. It may be that the liberal press is going to try to keep these right-wingers relevant for as long as possible—that liberals can’t be liberal without bogeymen.
But it’s nonsense. Drudge doesn’t count for anything. He’s from another time—a leftover. In fact, his disappearance might just be a mid-life crisis. The New Republic has missed the story. But in a comment posted to the story—one that’s in fact far more informative than the story itself, as happens more and more in the new world of Internet comments and journalism—we get the truer picture:
“In his day—which is now, clearly eclipsed (there's a moldy, whole "Who cares?" quality about this piece) Matt Drudge, reflected us back to us. We needed to "know"—and he was the shiv, the dumpster diving closet case who'd do ANYTHING to gratify that need.”
The New Republic piece does tellingly point out that Drudge has been missing for 2 years—and apparently no one noticed.
More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at email@example.com.