Lindsay Beyerstein got her hands on some proprietary data from the Washington Times. Statistics on web traffic for WashingtonTimes.com, writes Beyerstein in Salon.com, reflect a strange anomaly relating to referrals from DrudgeReport.com. Let her explain:
From April 1, 2011, through March 31, 2012, Drudge referred 39.4 million readers to the Washington Times’ website. In that same period, one year earlier, he referred less than half as many readers, just 19.6 million.
Nah — Beyerstein has a more plausible explanation. The upward traffic, she says, springs from the close relationship of two Drudge editors, Joseph Curl and Charlie Hurt, with the Washington Times, where they serve as columnists. Again, Beyerstein:
Both Curl and Hurt still work for Drudge, though you wouldn’t know it from their Washington Times columnist bios, which do not mention their other work. The jump in Drudge Report links to the Washington Times coincides perfectly with their hires.
The hole in Beyerstein’s reporting is no fault of hers. As she writes, “Hurt, Curl and Drudge, along with the Washington Times president, Tom McDevitt, all declined to comment.” Beyerstein tells me that she had a cryptic e-mail correspondence with Curl, in which he demanded that any exchange be off the record. Beyerstein refused to play along.
Who knows what to make of Beyerstein’s revelations. Is it surprising that links from the Drudge Report could carry the site of the diminished Washington Times? Not one bit. Is it shocking, surprising, or scandalous that conservative journalists would work for more than one conservative site? Nope again. Or that they would link from one of their sites to the other one? Repeat negative.
Perhaps the surprise is that someone in the Washington Times is apparently so sore about this traffic-promoting, newspaper-assisting relationship that they’d want to leak traffic documents to Beyerstein. The source, says Beyerstein to me, is a Washington Times whistleblower with whom “this cozy relationship did not sit well.” Good for the whistleblower: News organizations shouldn’t sheathe their traffic numbers in an encrypted veil anyhow.