This image was lost some time after publication.

Even though he's never quite been able to match the profound national mindfuck he laid down when he went live with Monica Lewinsky a couple minutes before everyone else, Matt Drudge's bizarre story sense and predilections still drive the larger political media narrative. Except for his weird weather obsession. But when he puts a semi-comprehensible political headline in 72-pt. font, people take note. The fact that he's a weirdo Crypto-Liberti-Publican has always been something of a problem for the liberals who used to control the media, but now, finally, they have a candidate craven enough to play Matt's game: Hillary Clinton!

While Drudge still gleefully links to every anti-Hillary story he can find (dirty Chinese money, people!!), he acknowledges that she's hugely entertaining and good for business. So Hill's using former DNC official Tracy Sefl to reach out to Matt and get him to occasionally push stuff that doesn't necessarily make Hillary look like the whore of Babylon. Like when they preempted Obama's Iraq speech with Hill's leaked fundraising numbers! She's rich and inevitable, enjoying giving your cute little war talk, hope boy.

The cutest part of this Times story is how John McCain was planning on "sending an emissary to Miami to build their own relationship with him" but Drudge never answered their emails. And no one wants to talk on the record about him because then he might stop linking to them!

As of right now, Drudge is leading with TERROR and WEATHER TERROR, always two of his favorite subjects, but he did find a way to connect the California wildfires to the Clinton campaign, with the typically charming headline, "As Fires Rage, Rob Reiner Sings For Clinton..." (the fires were "raging" some miles away from Reiner's Malibu home, but don't let that get in the way of a nice Nero image). So, uh, still kinda negative! The story about how all the Republicans were trashing her during their sad "debate" is basically about as neutral as Matt gets. Inconclusive!

Also! We briefly chatted with Ms. Sefl, who didn't cooperate with the Times piece and didn't have much to say to us either, even though we've been drunk with her. She did agree that it would be a good idea to try to figure out the magic Drudge-gaming formula and then maybe sell this formula to our boss Nick Denton for a couple million and retire from blogging or having to read about Matt Drudge ever again. It's a good idea!

Clinton Finds Way to Play Along With Drudge [NYT]