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Biden Plans as Trump Holds Out

Biden names a chief of staff as his lead only widens — but still Trump insists, “WE WILL WIN!” It’s Thursday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

Trump talked with advisers in the Oval Office yesterday.

We wrote to you in this space yesterday about how Trump has fallen out of favor with Rupert Murdoch, whose news outlets — including Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post — have begun to accept the reality of Biden’s victory.

There’s another influential conservative media impresario who has soured on Trump — albeit a far more insurgent one. That’s Matt Drudge, who has aggregated news articles on the home page of his influential website, Drudge Report, since 1995.

He had been a Trump enthusiast from the early days of the 2016 campaign, but he appears to have turned on the president well before Trump lost the election to Biden, as our media reporter Tiffany Hsu writes in a new article.

We spoke to Tiffany about the evolution of Trump and Drudge’s relationship, and why it appears to have gone south.

When Donald Trump entered the Republican primary race via escalator in 2015, he was seen as a heterodox conservative, an outsider and a pot-stirrer — not unlike the persona Matt Drudge has cultivated online. What do you think Drudge saw in Trump?

It’s more what they saw in each other. Matthew Lysiak, who published his book “The Drudge Revolution” this year, wrote that Drudge “had long known that Donald Trump translated into page views” and that “no one in the Republican primary better understood the extent that Matt controlled the conservative echo chamber better than Donald Trump.” They knew from the get-go that there was a mutually beneficial relationship to be had.

You wrote about how crucial Drudge’s support was to Trump’s rise. Twenty-five years after he started, how strong does his influence remain today?

He has more than half a million Twitter followers and just one tweet. Several conservative news sites emerged recently that mimic the look and voice of Drudge Report. This is clearly a guy who holds substantial sway, though data suggests that his readership has declined in recent months.

When does Drudge appear to have turned against Trump? Do we have any idea why?

People really started to notice the rift in the summer of 2019, when Drudge Report posted a headline about the slow progress on Trump’s border wall. Lysiak reported that Drudge has a habit of cutting ties with people in his life, including falling out with Ann Coulter in 2017 and ignoring Laura Ingraham when she started a website in 2015.

Maybe Drudge is used to relationships ending. Maybe he wanted to generate attention by breaking with Trump. It’s unclear.

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