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MEDIA GIANT: Matt Drudge, The man who could have stopped Donald Trump

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CNN couldn’t stop Donald Trump. Neither could Fox News.

Some of the nation’s most influential conservatives, from Glenn Beck to Bill Kristol, were powerless. Karl Rove and the Bush family had no effect. Scandal after scandal failed to put a chink in his armor.

And the 16 other GOP contenders, comprising some of the party’s brightest and budding stars, proved to be impotent.

But some observers say that one man may have had the power to prevent Donald Trump’s accession within the Republican Party: Matt Drudge.

“If Drudge had come out really negatively against Trump and had supported someone who would have played well with his reader base like Cruz, it would have been much harder for Trump to win,” BuzzFeed political reporter and editor Andrew Kaczynski told Business Insider, referring to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

The news mogul, one of the most mysterious individuals in the media industry, operates entirely outside the New York City and Washington, D.C., apparatus. He is seemingly accountable to no one. He is rarely spotted in public and holds close company with only a few select people. Reporters tip him off to stories through email or instant messages but never expect a reply, knowing he is unlikely to write back.

Yet despite his reclusiveness, Drudge holds a firm grip on the conservative news cycle. As the founder and operator of the Drudge Report, he influences and often creates news narratives.

“In a sense, the Drudge Report acts both as a waterfall creating a ‘trickle down’ effect within the right-leaning (and sometimes mainstream media) as well as a gravitational force drawing stories to its preferred narrative,” conservative talk-radio host John Ziegler said in a Mediaite column earlier this year.

Since its inception in 1996, the Drudge Report has been a home to conservatives who feel disenfranchised by traditional media. Drudge has marketed his website as a news destination not controlled by corporate interests or politicians.

And he has continued to have great success.

Last week, SimilarWeb, an analytics firm, ranked the Drudge Report as the third-most-trafficked media publisher in the US for June 2016. The website amassed 1.2 billion combined page views for the month — all with hardly any traffic coming from social-media channels.

Generating that many eyeballs would leave any media organization with a fair amount of influence over the news cycle. But Drudge is especially distinctive.

Insiders of all political stripes and professions furiously refresh his website throughout the day in their attempts to stay a step ahead of the news cycle. Almost any cable-news producer will reluctantly acknowledge having his website bookmarked as a regular destination. Emails released in December even revealed that Hillary Clinton’s State Department kept tabs on the page, flagging stories featured on the website as possible public-relations headaches.

Moreover, as a link aggregator, Drudge does not host any content of his own on his website. Instead, he simply writes headlines and links out to stories from around the web, providing the beneficiary with high volumes of readers.

In fact, Drudge was the top traffic referrer to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and other news outlets in 2015,according to a Vocativ report. The report said the site accounted for a staggering 52% of referral traffic to the Associated Press. – READ MORE

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