Matt Drudge is far and away the most influential force in journalism and political coverage today. He has dominated the political press coverage ever since he broke story after story in the summer of 1997 almost singlehandedly keeping Monica-gate alive. In 2000 and 2004, he was a major force in the conservative message machine as it attacked Al Gore and John Kerry. But in the past year, as Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith of the Politico observed:
[Matt Drudge has] emerged as an unreliable ally for the GOP, while trumpeting Obama’s victories and shrugging at his scandals.
“It’s clear to us that Barack Obama has won the Drudge Primary, and it’s one of the most important primaries in this process,” conceded a senior aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who also acknowledged that Drudge’s treatment of Obama could make the Illinois senator more electable in November.
The article offers several explanations for Drudge’s apparent preference for Obama. Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post, suggests that Drudge has a good sense of the “zeitgeist” and can see it shifting. Although I think that must be a factor, the more convincing explanation seems to be Drudge’s reputed libertarian streak. McCain is probably the most anti-libertarian candidate the Republican party has – from his positions on civil liberties in the War on Terrorism, to the use of government as a tool against big business, to limiting free speech for campaign finance reform. Obama, though in favor of more economic intervention than McCain, does seem to be more sympathetic to libertarianism as a whole – especially with regards to civil liberties.
Whatever the reason, Drudge, so far, has seemed to tilt towards Obama. And that could be a major factor in the lead-up to November.