Matt Drudge, the mastermind behind conservative news aggregate website The Drudge Report, is a withdrawn, often enigmatic figure. No journalistic standards or even editors govern Drudge when he wants to shoot a story out to tens of thousands of Americans. There's no one standing behind him to make sure the articles are unbiased, well-written, or even true.
Enter Media Matters, "a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media." Media Matters decided to take a look at some of the articles Drudge links to, and they found something unsettling.
It turns out that, during the past five years, Drudge has linked to Russian propaganda sites RT.com, SputnikNews.com, and TASS.com nearly 400 times.
Russia's efforts to push biased and fake news into the U.S. are thinly-veiled and clearly aimed at undermining the U.S. democratic system. Media Matters catalogs multiple times the Drudge Report helped distribute these articles to the public, especially during election season. Andrew Feinberg, a former reporter from Sputnick.com, described how far-right news outlets like the Drudge Report and Alex Jones' infowars.com are "are part of the “right-wing media ecosystem."
Media Matters wrote a program that crawled through the Drudge Report's archives and tallied the number of links to Russian propaganda.
Drudge has an unusual ability in today's media landscape to push stories from previously unknown sources into the mainstream. He often uses this power to promote a pro-Russian message, or un-skeptical messages from Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.
Another thing America has Drudge to thank for? Infowars, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' site, which often promotes insane scenarios and outright lies — when they're not trying to sell you a health drink. Infowars gained much-needed momentum early on from repeated links from Drudge. In Jones' own words, Drudge was the “one source who really helped us break out, who took our information, helped to punch it out to an even more effective level."