Media Matters published an article Wednesday with the provocative title “How Matt Drudge became the pipeline for Russian propaganda.” The explanation offered in the article for the title’s grand claim, however, would be convincing only to someone who has no familiarity with what the Drudge Report, founded and edited by Matt Drudge, is.
Here is the argument made in the article for how the Drudge Report is a Russian propaganda pipeline:
Drudge has for years used his site as a web traffic pipeline for Russian propaganda sites, directing his massive audience to nearly 400 stories from RT.com and fellow Russian-government-run English-language news sites SputnikNews.com and TASS.com since the beginning of 2012, according to a Media Matters review. Those numbers spiked in 2016, when Drudge collectively linked to the three sites 122 times.
It may seem like the people at Media Matters are onto something until you consider how the Drudge Report website works. It is a news aggregating website that, on its homepage, presents many phrases or even single words in hypertext. Click on one of the hypertext items and you immediately access a linked article, video, image, or other information at its own website. Also, these hypertext items, and the information linked from them, at the Drudge Report change frequently so the website can maintain its popularity as a source for breaking and up-to-date information.
Looking at the Drudge Report on Monday morning, I counted 60 such hypertext items linking to information at many websites. If I look at the Drudge Report tomorrow, I can expect to see a similar number of such hypertext items, with many or even the majority of them new.
In this context, the number of links to three websites with a connection to the Russia government that the Media Matters article asserts have been present on the Drudge Report provides no indication of any Russian propaganda pipeline. Instead, it just indicates that the Drudge Report includes these websites among the many websites to which it links.
If Media Matters’ numbers are correct, the Drudge Report’s linking to these websites is sparing, especially considering how many links cycle through the website. Nearly 400 links in a little over five and a half years amounts to about one link every five days. The so-called spike to 122 such links Media Matters claims were at the Drudge Report in 2016 amounts to about one link every three days in that year.
The Drudge Report is a pipeline for current events information from a variety of sources. But, the portion of the information in that pipeline that the Media Matters article asserts is Russian propaganda amounts to a trickle at most.
Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.