Is there life after Drudge?
In a rowdier, meaner era, new conservative sites like Citizen Free Press and Revolver are trying to fill the space where the Drudge Report was once unrivaled.
LOS ANGELES — “Kane” calls me from an “unknown” number.
It’s Fall 2021, but it’s a move that’s still being gravitated towards in our current digital ubiquity — by seemingly aspiring scammers, Mexican drug dealers, ex-girlfriends, CIA agents, and people pretending to be CIA agents. But as far as I know, Kane runs a website, not a meth lab.
Citizen Free Press is attempting to fill in the space it believes the Drudge Report and perhaps Breitbart have vacated. Central to his appeal, Kane says, is that on the post-Golden Age internet, he manually edits all comments and then deletes all posts after a few days. This allows him to sidestep use of the popular commenting platform Disqus, which critics say is vulnerable to the kind of corporate Stasi concerns that now seem to permeate most aspects of American life. You may not have heard of it, but Kane assures me that his two-man band (he only had one employee, the former Washington Examiner writer Spencer Neale, after our conversation) was traffic-wise hot on the heels of the namesake of this relentless conservative Angeleno provocateur, dead next month ten years ago.
Among the living, it is undeniable that the position once held by Drudge, Breitbart’s mentor — stories that rocked the White House, plagued Hillary Clinton, wielded power of life and death over centre-right websites, shook Mitt Romney made a presidential candidate, made Donald Trump a president – seems to have waned. Maybe it’s the revenge of the “platform”, the big boys – the Justthat diaryand the post– seemingly starved of content in the cynical 2020s, as opposed to the 1990s (thanks to Drudge, a president has been indicted for irritation). Lefties lived in fear of Drudge’s similarly aggressive content. A lot has changed since the James Bond era drove a tank through St. Petersburg.
Like Boris Johnson, fresh home from Moscow this week, Drudge has seen better days at the helm of the conservative world. Or maybe, as people whisper around Drudge, the Takoma Park tribune has lost heart, not just with former President Trump, like his girlfriend Ann Coulter (not embassy defectors, just the messenger), but with the conservatives at large dark arts thing. “Drudge mutes Biden,” Politico Playbook noted earlier this year, while assuring readers that the White House and Muckraker alike deny any “special relationship.”
Kane wants to eat Drudge’s lunch, but he’s not alone.
Provocative, former White House speechwriter and Matt Gaetz Lieutenant Darren Beattie started Revolver News, which is at the center of the controversy surrounding the Capitol riots (6 people ten years back). Before Trump’s election, Beattie, who later went to Duke University, was the only non-tenured academic in the United States to support him. To say he’s risk-taking is, well, an understatement.
Last week I diagnosed American conservatives as anti-anti-Putin, but Beattie has consistently and unequivocally taken it further by claiming, for whatever reason, that Russia’s Nord Stream 2 is “inevitable” and the “global American… Empire” attacks ( abbreviation: GAE). Similarly, the story of his ouster from the Trump White House — for speaking at a conference whose decidedly PG remarks he openly publicized — is a veritable Google freak show of headlines.
But more interesting is Beattie’s recent firing not by President Trump, but by President Biden — from the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, where he was deployed by Trump in a sort of troll maneuver in late 2020. People like to talk about Anthony Scaramucci’s Opera Bouffe tenure in the White House; But as he asked himself, is Darren Beattie the only man in America to have been fired by both Donald Trump and Joe Biden?
Today, of course, Beattie has Trump’s full endorsement, recently confirmed by Mar-A-Lago, with Beattie’s former Trumpist colleagues in the administration assuring the faithful that his ouster was the work of establishment stooges. What is he working on? A new gonzo Republican party line appears to be gaining ground. “How do you explain Revolver News?” Beattie tells me, “Imagine Breitbart, Drudge Report, Axl Rose and Wikileaks having a baby.”
I’ve known Beattie since his tenure, and I have no idea if he has what it takes, but what was once a firmly peripheral perspective — that FBI agitators were the real Tinder behind January 6th — has followed in his footsteps from his website entered the senate. The day after he apologized to Carlson for calling Jan. 6 a “violent terrorist attack,” Senator Ted Cruz questioned government officials with a series of questions that appeared to have been nicked from the front page of Revolver. “Who is Ray Epps?” the texan required a testifying FBI official.
This whole scene may be more Georgy Malenkov than Monica Lewinsky – grimmer absurdity, that is – but journalism like this has transformed the White House before (Beattie is no doubt trying to avoid the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange). Heading into 2024 with a sitting President now below 40 percent agreement (worse than Trump or Clinton when they were first impeached), and another former president who is fundamentally viewed as a criminal by the establishment (while he was). the current favorite on PredictIt), outfits like this cannot be ruled out as important X factors.
Beattie says he’s hiring.