(Screenshot from www.drudgereport.com)
A bird’s eye view from the Alt-Media where Trump was the odds on favourite from the very beginning…
In most parts of the world, nobody has even heard of Matt Drudge, let alone his website Drudge Report (http://drudgereport.com/). But he is one of the most influential new media journalists in the world and maybe even responsible for getting US President Donald Trump elected.
If you think that’s a bit far-fetched, then at least hear me out.
Drudge Report is nothing but a news aggregator site that started in 1996. That is, it merely posts links to other news sites on its home page. That doesn’t seem much. But remember, that is exactly how Facebook and Twitter operate today. If you just post links on your home pages; then you too are nothing but an aggregator directing people to websites.
Everyone knows the more the Facebook and Twitter shares that accumulate, the more the chances are of any story going viral. This concept was first mastered by Matt.
The sensational Monica Lewinsky scandal scoop landed with Newsweek magazine in 1998, but they chose to hold the story for re-confirmation. Matt got wind of it and posted it on his site immediately and the traffic soared and continues to do so to this present day.
That was a watershed day for traditional media versus online media. It was the first time traditional media got “outscooped” by online media for global news of this magnitude. The trend would continue. Drudge Report became stronger and stronger and it became a real force to reckon with by 2015.
Then something momentous happened which was hardly reported. Matt endorsed Trump for US President and announced that he would by and large put favourable stories for the most hated man in American politics.
Such announcements could sound the death knell for others, but Drudge Report continued to skyrocket. More and more people flocked to the site and a narrative was built about the virtues of Trump and the sins of Hillary.
There was a dichotomy.
America was divided into two worlds.
One led by CNN where Hillary was heading for a landslide.
One led by Matt where Trump was heading for a landslide.
One must say that in the end Matt won by a mile.
CNN saw its ratings plummet. In some weeks it even came third in national news channels!
What of Drudge Report? It touched one billion views a month in 2016. Yes you heard that right! To show you how momentous that is, let me give you the details of the Top 5 in terms of monthly page views in America in the media space…
MSN: Multi-billionaire supergiant with thousands of employees and influence.
Disney: Multi-billionaire supergiant with thousands of employees and influence.
Time Warner: Multi-billionaire supergiant with thousands of employees and influence.
Google: Multi-billionaire supergiant with thousands of employees and influence.
Drudge Report: One man and his laptop!
Yes, you heard that right. Matt is a one-man-army who has matched the giants of the world. He is a David who has slayed the media Goliath, just as Trump was a David (in the political space at least) and he beat the Goliath Hillary.
In fact he used to only have assistants to aide him if he was ill or busy.
One of his assistants was a little known man called Andrew Breitbart.
Andrew dreamed of starting an alternate news site to rival traditional national media. He ran around for funding and tried his best to get his venture started and Breitbart News (www.breitbart.com/) indeed was launched in 2007.
Now Breitbart and Drudge formed a formidable combination in 2016. If Drudge was an aggregator, Breitbart was a proper news sites with editors and writers. The two sites threw their weight behind the Trump machine and Breitbart also flourished and touched a monthly 300 million page views.
Trump supporters got direct hard hitting headlines and a full frontal assault on Hillary and her supporters. Trump supporters loved it and most of their articles started getting thousands and thousands of comments.
If you go to any comments section on Breitbart, it’s a virtual war out there. Drudge and Breitbart together totally changed the narrative of the 2016 US Presidential elections. In fact Breitbart has already emerged as America’s number one news sites in terms of “engagements”.
But it doesn’t end there. When Breitbart was to be revamped and relaunched in 2012, Andrew died. The guy behind the financing and investing in it was Steve Bannon. He took over the company from Andrew and moved forward.
Now here’s an interesting piece of information. In August 2016, he quit Breitbart and became the Chief Executive of Trump’s campaign! Steve was a front runner to become Trump’s Chief of Staff, but his anti-establishment outlook may have led him to have been overlooked.
Nevertheless, Steve will be chief strategist and senior counsellor in the Trump administration. Already all hell has broken in the media and enough people are clamouring for him not to be given the job in the first place.
Andrew himself had attacked John Podesta soundly before his death in 2012. That was prophetic because Podesta was chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and his humongous email leaks was one of the reasons for her downhill. Predictably the video of him berating Podesta went viral.
The alternative to the traditional establishment was soon called the alternative right or Alt-Right. You could see how Hilary was rattled when she gave the infamous Alt-Right speech that said…
“It’s what happens when you listen to the radio host Alex Jones, who claims that 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombings were inside jobs… But Trump didn’t challenge those lies. He actually went on Jones’ show and said: “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down…” The paranoid fringe now calls itself Alt-Right. But the hate burns just as bright. And now Trump is trying to rebrand himself as well. But don’t be fooled.”
For the uninitiated, Alex Jones has the hugely popular Info Wars (www.infowars.com/) and is a big fan of Drudge. In fact he got the reluctant and reclusive Matt for an interview during the elections and the former agreed on the condition that he sat in the shadows so you could only see his outline and hear his voice!
Hillary’s attack instead of weakening the Alt-Right actually galvanized it. Hillary gave the Alt-Right free publicity and loads of it. A good number of Hillary supporters would have checked out the alternative news sites and would have got a good look at her sordid misdeeds. It backfired.
Then there are others. Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos was already a celebrity but went even more viral when Twitter banned him. Then there’s Paul Joseph Watson also of Info Wars. These staunch Trump supporting Brits keep going viral with great regularity and the American media was grudgingly forced to acknowledge their growing influence.
In fact the Washington Post noted that if Trump hired the hard hitting and blunt Milo as his Press Secretary, then he could really shake things up.
Another influencer was Dilbert creator Scott Adams who predicted a Trump landslide way back in 2015. His Twitter feed (@ScottAdamsSays), blogs (http://blog.dilbert.com/) and podcasts were electrifying and enlightening.
Last but not least there’s Julian Assange of WikiLeaks (https://wikileaks.org/). If you just followed his Twitter handle you would be convinced that Hillary would get a million years in jail for all her misdeeds.
#DNCLeaks #PodestaLeaks #SpiritCooking #OctoberSurprise… the list was endless. If the above mentioned men were responsible for Trump’s rise, then Julian was responsible for Hillary’s fall.
If you followed CNN, BBC, the Washington Post, The New York Times, the Independent, the Economist, the Guardian, Huffington Post… you would have been expecting a Hillary landslide.
I was following none of these sources (except their mistakes which kept being pointed out by the Alt-Media) and so the only thing that surprised me was: Why wasn’t Trump’s margin of victory even greater than it was!
It’s not just the story of America. News TV channels, newspapers and magazines are finding their powers increasingly clipped in the face of social media and Internet news sites.
In 2014 they presented current Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a threat, but the voters gave him a virtual landslide.
In 2015 they railed against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and he won nonetheless.
A Labour revival was predicted in England in 2015, but the party seems in its death throes instead right now.
They put their weight firmly behind the Stay Vote earlier this year and Brexit happened instead.
But the biggest debacle is America. The American mainstream media predicted a Hillary victory and the decline of the Republican Party. One commentator even grandly declared that we would never have a Republican President ever again!
The result is that not only do we have a Trump victory but a Republican Senate and House too. The last time that happened was way back in 1928. Plus there are 35 Republican Governors and many are already referring to it as a “super majority”.
Recently Trump disavowed the Alt-Right but only those that were veering to the far Right and giving Nazi salutes. He is still firmly behind the Alt-Media and the moderate factions of the Alt-Right which may soon be called something else.
It’s been more than two years of madness for the Left ecosystem. The Leftist Indian National Congress. The Leftist UK Labour. The Leftist US Democrats. The Leftist liberals. Finally the leftist traditional media.
They all seem to be in a state of terminal decline and it all came to a head in the 2016 US Presidential elections which proved to be the final nail in the coffin. In fact they haven’t learnt anything after Trump’s triumph.
They are trying to build a narrative around “fake news” and labelling the Alt-Media as that. But so wrong has the traditional media been with its predictions, that it itself stands in danger of being dubbed “fake”.
Julian. Matt. Andrew. Steve. Alex.
These could well be the men who killed the mainstream media!
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here