Matt Drudge and Hillary Clinton: A History

An inverse relationship seems to exist between the length of time since a Clinton has orbited the White House and the power held by the mythology of Matt Drudge. However, there's a chance that the Drudge watercooler could start up again if his lucky charm decides to run in 2016.

As Drudge was quoted in New York Magazine in 2007, “I need Hillary Clinton. You don’t get it. I need to be part of her world. That’s my bank. Like Leo DiCaprio has the environment and Al Gore has the environment and Jimmy Carter has anti-Americanism … I have Hillary.”

Matt Drudge

Matt Drudge

And when Drudge links to stories about Hillary Clinton, the Internet often returns the favor by writing about Matt Drudge. The Washington Free Beacon reminded us of the beginnings of Clinton and Drudge's long saga this week, by diving into old documents from when he broke the Monica Lewinsky story in 1998. Hillary Clinton's friend, Diane Blair, wrote a note to the first lady back then asking, "Do we take Matt Drudge seriously?" During her 2008 run for the White House, she decided to, and reporters and commentators responded in kind. The question now is whether both will take him seriously again in 2016. Below, for posterity, find the long history of writers writing about Drudge writing about Hillary Clinton.

June 19, 1998, The New York Times: "People often wonder how the great social observers of the past would dissect the madness and the inanity in Washington today. How would Mark Twain skewer Kenneth Starr on Larry King? What would be left of Matt Drudge after Evelyn Waugh got through with him? And surely, the ideal chronicler of Hillary Clinton would be Edith Wharton, who sat in her own grand white house writing about women strangled in a cat's cradle of tribal constraints and pieties. She wrote about women forced to narrow their lives or disguise their natures or choke down indignities because of double standards. She wrote about the awful ironies that crushed women's dreams."

Sept. 16, 2000, The Washington Times: "The flap began earlier this week when Internet gossip Matt Drudge announced on his Web site -- www.drudgereport.com -- that the New York Times was "sitting" on the story of Mrs. Clinton's overnight guests because the newspaper did not want to give ammunition to Mr. Lazio in Wednesday's debate between the two Senate candidates."

Sept. 17, 2000, Slate: "Is Matt Drudge good for the Democrats? Not intentionally, of course. But look at who benefits, objectively, as the Marxists say. Last week, Drudge discovered that the New York Times hadn't published a story it had been working on, a story about donors to Hillary Clinton's campaign being rewarded with overnight stays at the White House and Camp David. So Drudge posts an item on his well-read site chiding the Times for sitting on an anti-Clinton report. What happens? The White House goes on full alert, as other news organizations begin to chase the story. The account dribbles out through a variety of outlets, including Fox, a conservative TV network far easier for Clinton supporters to dismiss than the Times would be. When the Times finally prints John Broder's piece about the overnights, it runs in the B section, below the fold, with the headline Mrs. Clinton Denies Visits Rewarded Gifts. The news by this point isn't the overnights, it's whether there was a quid pro quo for them; the first three paragraphs detail the official denial that there was. And the paper has its back up--a prominent paragraph denies Drudge's report that the Times had been suppressing the story. What if Drudge didn't exist (or if he had just done nothing when he learned of the Times piece)?"

Nov. 6, 2000, The American Prospect: "Yet with e-spin, it often seems that for every success on the part of a campaign, there's a comparable blunder. In August, Florida Governor Jeb Bush's office was accused of 'bigotry' and of being 'anti-Semitic' after a staffer accidentally e-mailed out a Bible verse to reporters instead of Bush's schedule. (The verse read in part: '[Every] spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist.') And in a more serious slip-up in May, the Hillary Clinton campaign inadvertently sent out the e-mail addresses of hundreds of reporters at the top of an update on the First Lady's travel plans. Matt Drudge got his hands on the list and put a story about it on his Web site; before long, other sites advertised the whole list. Soon, reporters were getting blitzed with hate e-mails from right-wingers lurking in the FreeRepublic.com neighborhood of the Internet. One such message, reported in The Washington Post, read: 'Since Hillary Klinton was nice enough to publish all your e-mail addresses, us in the right wing conspiracy wanted to drop each of you a note to say that you're all slime.'"

Feb. 2, 2001, The Washington Times: "'There's no fingernail polish on the nails. There have been Senate sessions without even any lipstick. It's pushing it to the Janet Reno, Donna Shalala crowd,' opines Internet scribe Matt Drudge, who weighed in on Mrs. Clinton's style crisis in a recent column. 'Even Patty Murray is more glamorous than Hillary," giggles Mr. Drudge, on the phone from his Miami newsroom. "It has Washington completely buzzing out.'"

March 5, 2007, Wonkette: "This is a conveniently context-free video clip of an audio clip of Hillary Clinton speaking supposedly before a southern Black church. You might notice that she's talkin' funny. Which is all well and good when beloved character actors or presidents do it, but when politicians do it, they're pandering. Or something. Anyway, Matt Drudge said this was important. So listen to it over and over again and start quoting it to your friends at happy hour. Now you're in the gang of 500!"

Aug. 24, 2007, New York Magazine: "But Drudge’s political philosophy is more mysterious than that, given that, currently, the one person Drudge seems to believe can lead is Hillary Clinton. Though Drudge often savages Hillary, he is convinced that she will make history, and he seems determined, in spite of himself, to empower her. HILLARY ON SURGE? “IT’S WORKING” was a recent lead headline. The Clinton scandals of yesteryear bore him, Drudge has said. Right-wing fans have begun to complain about the pattern, calling him “Hillary-obsessed.” What an irony that the gossip who almost destroyed Bill Clinton’s presidency might propel his wife to the Oval Office. “That House is going pink,” says Drudge."

Oct. 2, 2007, The New York Times: "Mrs. Clinton’s aides declined to discuss how the Drudge Report got access to her latest fund-raising figures nearly 20 minutes before the official announcement went to supporters. But it was a prime example of a development that has surprised much of the political world: Mrs. Clinton is learning to play nice with the Drudge Report and the powerful, elusive and conservative-leaning man behind it."

Oct. 22, 2007, The Guardian: "Some would argue that Ms Clinton owes her political career to Drudge. In 1998, the humiliation of her husband's affair with the White House intern led to an outpouring of sympathy for the first lady. Her approval ratings soared, the image of the calculating political spouse blurred. The idea of running for the Senate, which Ms Clinton had been pondering, seemed less of a long shot. She launched her campaign early the next year."

Oct. 23, 2007, The Boston Herald: "Hill Drudge-ingly accepting of how to play media game"

Dec. 1, 2007, The Atlantic: "Perhaps the ultimate example of hard-won experience is the relationship that developed last year, brokered by an outside ally, between the Clinton campaign and a man who was once a sworn enemy: Matt Drudge, the Internet pioneer. (News of the Monica Lewinsky scandal first broke on the Drudge Report.) In a Democratic primary, news that the Clinton campaign is funneling information to Drudge is potentially explosive—few figures inspire more liberal wrath than Drudge. (When I confronted the mole, she confirmed the connection to Drudge, but first asked for anonymity.) Still, Drudge has proved a useful tool for the campaign in framing media coverage. When it became clear that Obama had raised more first-quarter money for the primary race than Clinton had, the Clinton campaign minimized the damage by preemptively leaking its own numbers to Drudge. “Clinton Blows the Field Away” was the headline on an exclusive Drudge story claiming she had raised $36 million. Only later, with much less fanfare, did it become clear that only $19 million would count toward the Democratic primary. The Clinton campaign has also used Drudge to go on offense. In one example, an aide confirmed that the campaign sent Drudge a link to a story in which Michelle Obama seemed to take a swipe at Hillary Clinton over Bill’s infidelity. The story was presented—from Clinton to Drudge to the public—in a manner that was badly out of context, with a link to an exclusive videotape of Michelle Obama’s comment. But it nevertheless dominated the news cycle for 24 hours."

Jan. 30, 2008, The New Republic: "The press is obsessed with Hillary's inner life. And much of Hillary's coverage does have a sexist bent. Her flashes of angry and teary frustration were thus ready-made for the msnbc-Drudge-YouTube complex. And it was their endless repetition and deconstruction that apparently did what all of Mark Penn's microtargeting and sloganeering could not: convince voters - -especially women -- that Hillary is, as the candidate herself put it in one interview, 'a real person.'"

Feb. 5, 2008, Gawker: "Hill's relationship with ORIGINAL BLOGGER Matt Drudge is even weirder, if that's possible to imagine. Because Drudge needs her. He feeds off of her. Her hideously MSPainted pixilated weepy eye sat at the top of his page all day. He updates when she coughs during an interview. And he seems sadly uninspired by every other candidate in the race. Whether or not Hill's campaign has a special Drudge envoy, they needn't ever worry that he'll ignore them."

Feb. 6, 2008, Gawker: "The only two videos on Matt Drudge's YouTube account both feature Hillary Clinton having a coughing fit. Weird thing is, he used his account once last May to show her coughing at a commencement speech, then again today to show her hacking it up on TV. While the old video has actual footage, the new one is just a camcorder pointed at the TV, which would be dclass even when copying last night's Family Guy. Both videos are below, if you share Drudge's Clinton-cough fetish."

Feb. 15, 2008, Politico: Drudge 'seems obsessed with making Hillary Clinton our next president,' the magazine observed. Some in Clinton's circle date the change in the tone of the Drudge Report to Oct. 22, when The New York Times published its own front-page look at the campaign's courtship of the website. The piece further elevated Drudge's stature. It also turned his professed affection for Clinton into conventional wisdom. The Drudge Report soon shattered that conventional wisdom. On Nov. 25, Drudge floated the rumor she was having a lesbian affair with an aide over the teasing headline, 'Don't Go There.'"

May 7, 2008, Gawker: "Hey, look, Matt Drudge did something nice for the entire country: He ended the Democratic primary, even though it was supposed to continue until eternity. See the picture and headline at left, which ran atop Drudge Report tonight. Drudge's link went to a video of Meet The Press anchor Tim Russert calmly explaining to America that 'we now know who the Democratic nominee is going to be' and that Hillary Clinton is probably about to quit (she cancelled her TV appearances and everything!)."

June 2, 2008, Politico: "'It’s clear to us that Barack Obama has won the Drudge Primary, and it's one of the most important primaries in this process,' conceded a senior aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who also acknowledged that Drudge’s treatment of Obama could make the Illinois senator more electable in November. ... 'I think he is fatigued by Clinton, I think he is invigorated by Obama,' said one person who knows Drudge. 'He would say that the Obama story is new. If you’re somebody who does what he does, you get really sick of the same stories.'"

May 6, 2009, The New Republic: "On the morning of June 7, 2008, Matt Drudge showed up at the National Building Museum in Washington, where Hillary Clinton was scheduled to give her concession speech. At the entrance, Drudge found his host, Tracy Sefl, a Clinton campaign staffer who, the day before, had offered to meet Drudge at the event. Throughout the campaign, Sefl had served as the Clintons' preferred back channel to communicate with the mercurial operator of the Drudge Report. Both sides benefited from the arrangement: The Clinton camp could push favorable items into the news cycle, and Drudge would receive the inevitable traffic boost that accompanied anything Hillary-related."

July 6, 2009, First Monday: "The top 10 words of all time on the Drudge Report consist, as expected, primarily of grammatical structure words such as prepositions and articles. The only two nouns in the list are 'bush' for President Bush and 'us' for U.S. (United States), showing the strong focus on presidential issues in the Drudge Report during this period. (Drudge changes the capitalization of his words for emphasis, so all words are converted to lowercase for analysis.) After 'US', Iraq is the next most popular name, at #14 (2.8 percent), followed by Obama at #22 (2.07 percent), and Clinton at #32 (1.44 percent). Iran (#36; 1.32 percent) and China (#39; 1.15 percent) follow up the list."

Sept. 28, 2010, Gawker: "I'm not opposed to the publication of funny pictures where politicians look like demons. In fact, this Drudge headline is creating some cognitive dissonance for me, because it pits my kneejerk hatred of all things Matt Drudge does against my weakness for pictures of famous people looking funny. Then again, this isn't that funny of a picture. Maybe if demon Hillary were to step on a banana peel? Otherwise it's just Drudge doodling another ugly picture of the girl from study hall he has an antagonistic crush on."

June 29, 2013, The New York Times: "Mrs. Clinton’s age and appearance, of course, provide an irresistible topic for the conservative media. Matt Drudge, who takes particular delight in tracking Mrs. Clinton’s photographic ups and downs, posted a picture on his Web site this month showing her virtually wrinkle-free under the headline 'Fresh-Faced Hillary Glows at Lincoln Center.'"

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