How Matt Drudge may have won the 2016 election

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In an election cycle when just about everyone got it wrong, Matt Drudge ended up vindicated.

The editor of the massive, conservative news aggregation site spent much of the last 18 months leading with those rare polls and stories that predicted a Trump victory — meanwhile the Huffington Post, sometimes called Drudge's liberal mirror, gave Hillary Clinton a 90-something percent chance of winning just hours before the polls started closing.

In the aftermath of an election when just about every major outlet was seemed to misread Donald Trump, and when fake and factually dubious news flooded the web, sites like the Drudge Report raise a chicken-and-egg question: Did Drudge and his conservative ilk just get it right, or did they play a more active role, driving a negative (and sometimes made-up) narrative about Clinton that helped cost her the election?

Ever since it broke the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998, the Drudge Report has maintained a unique place in the American news media landscape.

See photos of Monica Lewinsky:

28 PHOTOS
Monica Lewinsky through the years
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Monica Lewinsky through the years
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Monica Lewinsky attends Vanity Fair & SAKS Fifth Avenue International Best Dressed List at Saks Fifth Avenue on September 21, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Victor Garber, Monica Lewinsky, Anne McNally, Anh Duong, Rainer Andreesen attend the Saks Fifth Avenue + Vanity Fair: 2016 International Best Dressed List Celebration at Saks Fifth Avenue on September 21, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: TV personality Monica Lewinsky, shoe detail, attends the 2016 Vanity Fair International Best Dressed List at Saks Fifth Avenue on September 21, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: TV personality Monica Lewinsky, bag detail, attends the 2016 Vanity Fair International Best Dressed List at Saks Fifth Avenue on September 21, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 16: Monica Lewinsky attends 'Hoping's Greatest Hits', the 10th anniversary of The Hoping Foundation's fundraising event for Palestinian refugee children hosted by Bella Freud and Karma Nabulsi, at Ronnie Scott's on June 16, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 16: Philip Colbert (L) and Monica Lewinsky attend 'Hoping's Greatest Hits', the 10th anniversary of The Hoping Foundation's fundraising event for Palestinian refugee children hosted by Bella Freud and Karma Nabulsi, at Ronnie Scott's on June 16, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 16: Monica Lewinsky attends 'Hoping's Greatest Hits', the 10th anniversary of The Hoping Foundation's fundraising event for Palestinian refugee children hosted by Bella Freud and Karma Nabulsi, at Ronnie Scott's on June 16, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: Monica Lewinsky attends the gala screening of 'Despite The Falling Snow' on March 23, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Monica Lewinsky poses backstage at the hit musical based on the cult film 'American Psycho' on Broadway at The Schoenfeld Theatre on May 02, 2016 in New York, New York. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
Monica Lewinsky arrives to the Vanity Fair Party following the 88th Academy Awards at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills Sunday evening, February 28, 2016. (Photo by Axel Koester/Corbis via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: TV personality Monica Lewinsky arrives at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: Monica Lewinsky attends a special Charity Premiere of 'Despite The Falling Snow' in aid of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund at The May Fair Hotel on March 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: TV personality Monica Lewinsky attends the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12: (L to R) Olga Kurylenko, Alice Temperley and Monica Lewinsky attend an intimate dinner party hosted by Alice Temperley to celebrate 15 years of Temperley at GWP Studio on November 12, 2015 in London, England. Guests drank Baileys Flat White martinis to toast the occasion and mark the significant milestone for the brand. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Temperley London)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: Monica Lewinsky arrives for the gala screening of 'Despite The Falling Snow' on March 23, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 19: Monica Lewinsky (R) visits TV/Radio host Andy Cohen (L) at Radio Andy at SiriusXM Studios on October 19, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 06: Monica Lewinsky attends the Forbes Under 30 Summit at Pennsylvania Convention Center on October 6, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
Monica Lewinsky attends the Spring Gala In Aid of the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital hosted by QBF and Kerzner Calliva at Claridge's Hotel on May 12, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Quercus Biasi Foundation)
Monica Lewinsky attends the Spring Gala In Aid of the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital hosted by QBF and Kerzner Calliva at Claridge's Hotel on May 12, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Quercus Biasi Foundation)
Designer Monica Lewinsky attends the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Actor Alan Cumming and designer Monica Lewinsky attend HBO's Post 2015 Golden Globe Awards Party at Circa 55 Restaurant on January 11, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Monica Lewinsky arrives at International Documentary Association's 2014 IDA Documentary Awards at Paramount Studios on December 5, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
David Friend and Monica Lewinsky attend the Kitchen Spring Gala Benefit 2014 at Cipriani Wall Street on May 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Monica Lewinsky attends Entertainment Weekly's 'LA Can't Have All The Fun' 10th Anniversary Oscar Party at Elaine's on February 29, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images)
Monica Lewinsky speaks to attendees at Forbes Under 30 Summit at the Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pa on October 20, 2014. (Credit: Star Shooter / MediaPunch/IPX via AP)
Monica Lewinsky is seen at the The Masterpiece Marie Curie Party in London on Monday, June 30, 2014. (Photo by Jon Furniss/Invision/AP)
Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern at the center of an alleged sex scandal involving President Clinton, is shown in a photo released Wednesday, Jan. 21, 1998, by the Department of Defense where she worked from April 1996 until Dec. 26, 1997. (AP Photo/Department of Defense,)
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The site, according to Quantcast, attracts over 24 million unique monthly visitors in the U.S., many of whom flock to the bare-bones page to devour its scandalous and sensational content.

The aggregator puts a conservative spin on mainstream stories, and then veers into questionable territory — including a tabloid story about Bill Clinton's allegedly illegitimate child and claims that longtime Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal beat his wife (Blumenthal eventually took Drudge to court over the story).

But this year, Drudge had an almost singular focus: eviscerating Hillary Clinton.

Along with linking to coverage of well-reported scandals, including Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state, Drudge also spotlighted some very controversial stories.

Long before Hillary Clinton stumbled at a 9/11 memorial event (she later turned out to have pneumonia), Drudge obsessed over the idea that she was in poor health.

See photos of Clinton campaigning after she was diagnosed:

16 PHOTOS
Hillary Clinton campaigning after pneumonia
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Hillary Clinton campaigning after pneumonia
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gives a thumbs up as she boards her campaign plane in White Plains, New York, United States September 15, 2016, to resume her campaign schedule following a bout with pneumonia. REUTERS/Brian Snyder TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton boards her campaign plane in White Plains, New York, United States September 15, 2016, to resume her campaign schedule following a bout with pneumonia. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States, September 15, 2016, after she resumed her campaign schedule following a bout with pneumonia. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States, September 15, 2016, after she resumed her campaign schedule following a bout with pneumonia. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves after speaking at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 39th Annual Gala Dinner in Washington, DC, U.S. September 15, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 39th Annual Gala Dinner in Washington, DC, U.S. September 15, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Black Women's Agenda Annual Symposium in Washington, U.S., September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves as she boards her campaign plane in Washington, U.S., September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton reacts as she receives the CBC Trailblazer Award during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Phoenix Awards Dinner at the Washington convention center in Washington, U.S., September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, U.S., September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to the media before boarding her campaign plane at the Westchester County airport in White Plains, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton talks to reporters about the explosion in Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, as she arrives at the Westchester County airport in White Plains, U.S., September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attends a bilateral meeting with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (R) at a hotel in New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton meets with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a hotel in New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attends a bilateral meeting with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (R) at a hotel in New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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In August, he published a photo of a staffer holding Clinton's elbow as she climbed up some stairs, concluding the candidate was too ill to walk unaided.

The photo, which was shared thousands of times by right-wing pro-Trump social media accounts at the time, was several months old and taken out of context — and Clinton, of course, was repeatedly shown to be in excellent health by doctors.

Yet, many credit Drudge with making Clinton's health an issue on the far right.

From July 1 to November 2, Vocativ collected data from the Drudge Report's archive related to the 2016 election.

Scraping searches for "Hillary" or "Clinton" and a set of election buzzwords from headlines and URLs, we calculated how often Clinton's name was mentioned along with a specific scandal.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Clinton's name was tied to the word "emails" in roughly 23 percent of the links in the data set — the most mentions by far.

Clinton's campaign was marred by a constant stream of leaked emails, with whistleblowing site WikiLeaks handling much of the dumping and FBI chief James Comey announcing an additional review just days before the election.

Next, "Bill Clinton's affairs" occurred in 9.3 percent of the links. And below that, three issues — "Hillary's health," "Clinton Foundation," and "DNC" — all hovered around the 4.5 percent mark.

It is worth noting that we just looked at stories that mentioned Clinton — not whether they were positive or negative (though any consistent Drudge reader will know anecdotally that the possibility of a positive story about Clinton appearing on the site is virtually nonexistent).

See how people have been reacting to fake and hyperpartisan news:

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Fake news stories
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Fake news stories
FACEBOOK: No we won't do anything about fake news or Nazis or whatever but here's a 30 day ban for posting pictures… https://t.co/MXNTxCvPRp
Glad Facebook got around to cutting off supply of fake news and Twitter stopped producing alt right hate bots before anything bad happened.
Stunner from @CraigSilverman: Fake news *beat* real news on Facebook over last 3 months of election… https://t.co/tT8n1dhGdz
Google plans to attack "fake" news. What is that? The Rolling Stone rape hoax? Huffington Post claiming 98% win chance for Hillary?
wow will facebook ending fake news have any impact on my posts about my girlfriend who goes to another school
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Robert Hernandez, a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California, told Vocativ that sites like the Drudge Report underscore how difficult it is to navigate today's hyper-partisan media landscape.

"Truthfully, going through this election as an informed citizen, as an informed journalist, it was hard, and it is still hard to find what is true and factual," he said, adding that the increase in sensation- and conspiracy-peddling news site and pundits are amplifying the problem.

But although the data deals with Clinton, Hernandez says that on the flip side, many sites also figured out how to effectively increase traffic and clicks by constantly reporting on Trump and creating a feeling of anxiety and fear around the election.

"It's such a polluted and diluted space, this journalism ecosystem, that it's an extreme challenge for an informed citizen to stay informed," he told Vocativ.

The post $HRILLARY: How Matt Drudge Won The 2016 Election appeared first on Vocativ.

See photos of newspapers declaring Trump's victory:

17 PHOTOS
Newspapers around the world react to Trump's win
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Newspapers around the world react to Trump's win
A businessman walks past copies of the London Evening Standard newspaper, featuring a picture of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on its front page, waiting to be picked up in the square mile financial district of the City of London, U.K., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States in a stunning repudiation of the political establishment that jolted financial markets and likely will reorder the nation's priorities and fundamentally alter America's relationship with the world. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Mexican holds a newspaper with headlines referring to the eventual triumph of Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / PEDRO PARDO (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican newspapers with their front page referring to the eventual triumph of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A Mexican holds a newspaper with headlines about on the eventual triumph of Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / PEDRO PARDO (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Copies of a special edition of the Financial Times newspaper, featuring a picture of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on its front page, sit waiting to be picked up in the square mile financial district of the City of London, U.K., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States in a stunning repudiation of the political establishment that jolted financial markets and likely will reorder the nation's priorities and fundamentally alter America's relationship with the world. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Mexican newspaper with its front page referring to the eventual triumph of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A Mexican newspaper with its front page referring to the eventual triumph of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A Mexican reads a newspaper with headlines about on the eventual triumph of Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / PEDRO PARDO (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
View of Guatemalan newspapers informing about the victory of US presidential candidate Donald Trump in their front pages, in Guatemala City on November 9, 2016. / AFP / JOHAN ORDONEZ (Photo credit should read JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Colombian newspapers report the victory of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on their front pages, in Medellin, Colombia, on November 9, 2016 / AFP / STR / RAUL ARBOLEDA (Photo credit should read RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images)
An 'I Voted' sticker adorns a newspaper at an election watch party organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Republican Donald Trump was projected to win North Carolina and Florida, an unexpectedly strong showing in results Tuesday night that potentially throws the balance in the presidential race to Michigan and Wisconsin, key parts of Hillary Clinton's Midwestern electoral firewall. Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 09: A man distributes an extra edition of a newspaper featuring a front page report on the U.S. Presidential Election and Republican President-elect Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Yuya Shino/Getty Images)
Chilean newspapers report the victory of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on their front pages, in Santiago, on November 9, 2016 / AFP / MARTiN BERNETTi (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi man holds an edition of Iraqi daily newspaper Azzaman displaying pictures of US presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Baghdad on November 9, 2016. Billionaire populist Donald Trump, tapping into an electorate fed up with Washington insiders, was on the verge of a shock victory over Hillary Clinton in a historic US presidential election that sent world markets into meltdown. / AFP / SABAH ARAR (Photo credit should read SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images)
The New York Post newspaper featuring president-elect Donald Trump's victory is displayed on a New York newsstand, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016 in New York. Donald Trump claimed his place Wednesday as America's 45th president, an astonishing victory for the celebrity businessman and political novice who capitalized on voters' economic anxieties, took advantage of racial tensions and overcame a string of sexual assault allegations on his way to the White House. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A Clarin newspaper, left, with a headline reading in Spanish "Trump was winning and U.S begins an era that shocks the world" with a picture of President-elect Donald Trump is prepared to be delivered outside a building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
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