In his book, Lysiak notes that Drudge formed a close bond with Breitbart because of their Jewish backgrounds. “Breitbart, who had been adopted into a Jewish family, would later tell friends, ‘It is kind of weird that Drudge and I are both secular Jews who are interested in faith issues,’” Lysiak writes. “In Breitbart, Matt saw someone with boundless energy, a skeptical worldview, and who shared a passion for headlines and news.”
Drudge’s influence cuts across political divides. The CNN host and media reporter Brian Stelter “really looked up to Matt,” Lysiak noted.
But despite his reach, Lysiak believes that Drudge has been given short shrift by the majority of media professionals.
“Matt Drudge is the godfather of all these websites,” said Lysiak. “But I feel like he also doesn’t get the credit he would normally get because he isn’t highly educated, never wanted to go to the parties, didn’t do that scene, didn’t care if he was liked. For example, I worked at the New York Daily News for quite a long time. My editors were constantly refreshing the Drudge Report page, but they would never admit that.”
“It seems like people talk about him like he’s a guilty pleasure,” Lysiak added. “Like, it’s unsophisticated to say you go on the Drudge Report. You go on that site, you’re going to see things about sex robots, natural catastrophes, aliens and then some hard news. You might get the impression that we’re on the verge of an apocalypse every time you click on the site.”
Still, Drudge hasn’t done much to advocate for himself, at least publicly. According to Lysiak, Drudge basically bowed out of public view in 2007, when Philip Weiss published a lengthy New York magazine feature about him. The day after, Lysiak said, Drudge quit his radio show. Then, over lunch with a friend, Drudge decided that it would be best if his website didn’t have a face associated with it.
“He made a Batman reference,” Lysiak said. “And he’s been dark ever since.”
Drudge has been equally quiet about his faith, but Lysiak said that he has occasionally spoken about it. “Matt definitely feels closely connected to his identity as Jewish,” Lysiak said, adding that Drudge often travels to Tel Aviv. “He remarked to one of his friends that he feels a really powerful connection with the history” of Israel, Lysiak said.
In 2018, Drudge clashed with Fox News over coverage of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
“A segment on Fox News this morning where hosts laughed and joked their way through a discussion on political impact of terror was bizarre,” Drudge tweeted at the time. “Not even 48 hours since blood flowed at synagogue? Check your soul in the makeup chair!”
Such disputes are typical of Drudge’s independent streak. Lately, he has turned a jaundiced eye toward the president, coverage that has earned him scorn from Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who in a Friday segment characterized Drudge as “now firmly a man of the progressive left.”
Left or right, however, Lysiak explained that Drudge’s motivations for posting negative coverage of Trump aren’t simply ideological.
“People make this mistake of looking at him through a political lens, but Matt Drudge’s loyalty is to one thing, and that is his website and page clicks and anything relevant,” Lysiak mused. “If you notice, people are talking about Matt Drudge again.”