Why Matt Drudge Still Rules (And Where He Goes From Here)

Is Matt Drudge completely over in the wake of his ill-advised hyping of pro-McCain propaganda?If you're even bothering to ask the question, the answer is self-evidently "No," it can always be argued. It was thus inevitable that someone — Slate's Jack Shafer, it turns out — would emerge to swat down the greatly exaggerated reports (from Media Matters and so forth) of Drudge's demise as an influential blogger. He works too hard and has drawn too much traffic to go away so easily, Shafer argues:

...12 years after its founding, no greater media punch can be found in a smaller Web package than the Drudge Report, reportedly just a two-person operation. According to comScore Media Metrix, the Drudge Report's number of unique visitors rose 70 percent from September 2007 to September 2008, impressive even in a year that most Web sites covering the campaign have attracted plumper audiences.

Besides, people have been predicting Drudge's demise for nearly a decade, and nothing has come of it, Shafer adds. (Sounds familiar.)

Why did Drudge screw up the last few weeks of the election so badly, and how does he position his site now that the horse that he bet against has won? The internet publisher can safely avoid doing much self-reflection: He'll do well enough for himself remaining, with Fox News, part of the loyal opposition. Several months down the road, when Obama's honeymoon has ended, Drudge's hectoring will sound less tone-deaf and more like an integral part of the media narrative.

In the meantime, he's well-advised to get out of the house a bit more and start handicapping the next election cycle. He needs to be able to read the tea leaves much more closely this time around.