Conservative media giant Matt Drudge is not happy, and the source of his ire may be surprising — a Fox News segment.
In a rare series of tweets published Monday from his seldom-used personal account, Drudge railed against a segment on the network’s daytime talk show “Outnumbered” that focused on how recent violent attacks — pipe bombs sent last week to prominent critics of President Trump and Saturday’s mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue — will affect the coming midterm elections.
Drudge — founder of the Drudge Report, the influential, right-wing news aggregate site — and Fox News are both favored by the commander in chief. In June, Trump told “Fox & Friends” that the Drudge Report is “great,” and Drudge, he said, is “a great gentleman” who “really has the ability to capture stories people want to see,” the Hill reported.
But Monday, Drudge only had criticisms for his fellow conservative-leaning media outlet. He said the hosts of “Outnumbered” had “laughed and joked their way through a discussion on political impact of terror,” calling the segment “bizarre.”
“Not even 48 hours since blood flowed at synagogue?” he wrote. “Check your soul in the makeup chair!”
On Monday’s show, hosts Melissa Francis, Harris Faulkner, Rachel Campos-Duffy and Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, better known as Kennedy, were joined by Republican strategist Josh Holmes. The episode started off solemnly as they talked about the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 dead and several injured, an attack considered to be the deadliest against Jews in U.S. history. They were equally serious when the conversation turned to guns and whether places of worship should have armed guards, a suggestion made recently by Trump and others.
However, the segment that drew Drudge’s criticisms had a markedly more jovial feel.
Following an earnest monologue from Holmes about unity, Faulkner jokingly asked him, “When are you running exactly?” prompting chuckles.
The laughter continued as Campos-Duffy’s family was brought up, Francis compared political differences to being on rival sports teams and Kennedy joked about supporting third-party candidates. Kennedy’s comments appeared to generate the largest reaction, as the camera briefly even showed Francis throwing her head back and clapping her hands.
Drudge’s comment kicked off with a screenshot from the show of Kennedy with a smile on her face. Text at the bottom of the screen read, “Questions on how mail-bomb scare, synagogue attack could impact midterm voters eight days from now.”
Alongside the image, Drudge wrote, “Is it really funny?”
Minutes later, he expanded his critique, issuing the scathing rebuke in which he suggested the hosts “check your soul.”
Drudge then tweeted images of Francis, Faulkner and Campos-Duffy also smiling. “Hysterical!” he wrote.
Fox News defended its hosts in a statement to The Washington Post.
“Kennedy made an unrelated quip at the end of the segment which was focused on unity — there was absolutely no joking or laughing about the events of this weekend and a screen grab of her smiling is hardly indicative of the entire segment,” the network said in an email.
It added that the “lower third,” the text on the screen also known as a chyron, “should not have been up for the duration of this segment as it was not fully reflective of what the panelists were discussing.”
Several hours after Drudge’s tweets were posted, Kennedy penned her own response.
“It was a really dishonest abstraction from @DRUDGE as we were clearly talking about 3rd party candidates,” she tweeted. The show “was respectful and somber,” she wrote, adding, “that level of false misrepresentation/clickbait is unacceptable.”
Drudge did not respond to multiple requests for comment late Monday night.
As of early Tuesday morning, the three tweets — the only ones on his account — were still up. Drudge, who dramatically cleared his Twitter in 2014 save for one mysterious tweet about the “manic digital age,” has become known for regularly deleting his tweets about 24 hours after posting them, the Week reported last year.
The Drudge Report, however, prominently featured links to news stories related to the segment and included an image of Campos-Duffy, who appears to be laughing. In all capital letters, the headline of one story on the site reads, “LAUGHTER, JOKES ON FOXNEWS SEGMENT ABOUT TERROR FALLOUT?” Beneath that is a brief three-word line linking to a story that included Fox’s response: “Network: Chyron error."
Aside from Drudge, the segment was also blasted by CNN, Mediaite reported. CNN and Fox News have been engaged in a decades-long feud and rarely hesitate to denounce the other.
“It’s just so entirely inappropriate,” said anchor Brooke Baldwin, according to Mediaite. Oliver Darcy, a media reporter for the network, pushed back against the statement from Fox News, saying, “While the statement does pin on Kennedy at the end, I think it was a problem throughout the whole segment.”
On social media, Drudge’s public condemnation of the segment shocked many.
“Holy moly...” tweeted Hart Hanson, creator of the popular Fox crime series “Bones.”
Others theorized that Drudge’s tweets may be signaling a change in perspective.