In December, to raise awareness of a website he had started, Dan Bongino, a conservative radio host and frequent guest on Fox News programs, wrote on Twitter: “Drudge has abandoned you. I NEVER will.”
In April this year, President Trump weighed in on Twitter: “I gave up on Drudge (a really nice guy) long ago, as have many others. People are dropping off like flies!” The Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson echoed the sentiment in a July episode of his show, saying that Drudge Report “has changed dramatically, 180 degrees” and calling Mr. Drudge “a man of the progressive left.”
With the presidential campaign entering its final stretch, the attacks are mounting. On Sept. 1, Mr. Trump retweeted a post from Mark Levin, the host of a conservative syndicated radio show and a Fox News program, complaining about Drudge Report’s all-caps coverage of Mr. Trump’s denial of having suffered a health crisis (“TRUMP DENIES MINI-STROKE SENT HIM TO HOSPITAL … VIDEO: DRAGGING RIGHT LEG”). In response, Mr. Trump tweeted, “Drudge didn’t support me in 2016, and I hear he doesn’t support me now. Maybe that’s why he is doing poorly.”
Two weeks later, the president deemed Drudge Report “Fake News.” “Our people have all left Drudge,” he said on Twitter. “He is a confused MESS, has no clue what happened.”
The site has perhaps paid a price for jumping off the Trump train. It had 1.4 million unique visitors in August, down 42 percent from a year earlier, according to Comscore data provided by The Righting, which analyzes viewership of right-leaning outlets. Its audience has trailed that of the right-wing sites The Gateway Pundit and Daily Caller. New rivals looking to outdraw the once-fastest news-slinger on the web include Liberty Daily, Rantingly and NewsAmmo, The Washington Times noted.
Mr. Drudge, who rarely gives interviews, did not respond to requests for comment.
In “The Drudge Revolution,” a book published this year, the journalist Matthew Lysiak described how Mr. Drudge, the child of two liberal Democrats, started out some 25 years ago from a Hollywood apartment equipped with a dial-up connection. What began as a Sunday night online newsletter filled with musings on natural disasters and celebrities soon became a venue for scoops on media, entertainment and politics.
Its founder displayed a knack for knowing what would make readers click when he started posting links to articles plucked from the fast-growing internet. He has had many big scoops of his own over the years, but he made his name as an aggregator — a digital journalist who highlights work published elsewhere — and he moved with such speed that he often gave the impression of being first, even when he wasn’t.