After Dallas, conservatives rebel against the Drudge Report

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Black Lives Matter Activist Among Scores Arrested at Weekend Protests

"BLACK LIVES KILL."

Those were the three words that blared across the Drudge Report early Friday morning after five Dallas police officers were killed in a horrific ambush attack.

And immediately upon seeing the race-baiting headline, conservatives rebelled against a once-reliable ally who has become more and more divisive to them over the course of the 2016 campaign.

"In moments like these, we should do the opposite of what Drudge is doing," Commentary Magazine Editor Noah Rothman wrote on Twitter.

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Protests around country over Alton Sterling, Philando Castile shootings
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Protests around country over Alton Sterling, Philando Castile shootings
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Protestors yell at police from a bridge on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. A protest shut down highway I-94 during a march to commemorate Philando Castile who was killed by police on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Police officers launch smoke bombs and tear gas to clear out protestors who shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Police officers line up to clear out protestors who shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Police officers launch smoke bombs and tear gas to clear out protestors who shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA -JULY 09: Protesters lock arms and shout at law enforcement in riot gear on July 9, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Alton Sterling was shot by a police officer in front of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge on July 5th, leading the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Protestors shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA -JULY 09: Baton Rouge police removed protesters that were arrested on July 9, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Alton Sterling was shot by a police officer in front of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge on July 5th, leading the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: A protestor is held back by another man on shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have happened every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Protestors shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Ph22oto by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: A protestor raises his fist on shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Police line up as protestors shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: A police officer gives commands as protestors shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Protestors raise their hands as police attempt to move them off highway I-94 which they shut down on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Protestors shout slogans during a protest in Times Square in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers stand guard during a protest in Times Square in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers stand guard during a protest in Times Square in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
People shout slogans during a protest in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
A protestor shouts slogans during a protest in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather in Union Square during a protest in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
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"Responsible reporting as always," sarcastically tweeted Jeff Blehar, from the popular Ace of Spades blog.

Others piled on.

Allahpundit, an influential anonymous conservative blogger, skewered the site for a subsequent banner headline claiming a "black power group" had claimed responsibility for the attack.

"Dallas chief says suspect told them before he died that he wasn't part of a group," the blogger wrote.

And David French, the National Review writer who flirted with a third-party presidential run, went as far as to say that he had deleted the Drudge Report app from his phone.

The anti-Drudge sentiment had been simmering for months. But it seemed to finally come to a boil with the Drudge Report's coverage of the Dallas attack.

Since its inception in 1996, the Drudge Report has been a home to conservatives who feel disenfranchised by traditional media. Drudge has marketed his website as a news destination not controlled by corporate interests or politicians.

But that's a narrative that was heavily challenged during the 2016 Republican Primary, when it became clear the news aggregator was pushing a pro-Trump agenda.

Many conservatives who frequent the right-wing link aggregator had grown upset over how founder Matt Drudge had covered the 2016 election. The Drudge Report, they say, trashed true-bred conservatives like Ted Cruz in favor of promoting a squishy moderate in Donald Trump.

"I don't know what the hell happened to Matt Drudge," Glenn Beck, the prominent conservative talk-show host and founder of The Blaze, said in March.

The Drudge Report, operating from the same playbook as Trump, has used the racial tension in the country to generate page views, its critics say. And the website's controversial three-word headline in the aftermath of the Dallas attack was the final straw.

"Matt Drudge, for whom my late friend Andrew Breitbart used to work closely and for whom I used to fill in on his old national radio show, is not a conservative," conservative talk-radio host John Ziegler told Business Insider. "He is a brilliant businessman who doesn't care at all about the conservative cause."

The operator of the anti-Trump Stop Trump PAC, a Republican operative who asked not to be named to preserve his anonymity, told Business Insider he agreed with Ziegler's analysis.

"It has nothing to do with conservatism. It has to do with ratings," he said.

He added: "When it comes to Drudge, he has chosen to go down a path of racism. Embracing racism, inciting hate — all to gain followers. He doesn't care about conservative principles or ideas. It's all about ratings. It's a ratings game."

And Steve Deace, a popular Iowa radio host, slammed the Drudge Report as a "fraud."

"Drudge isn't a conservative. He's a sensationalist. And right now, the sensation is white grievance politics/populism, so he's parked there," Deace told Business Insider. "Drudge, like too many other people in our industry, is a master at capitalizing on being conservative media without actually demonstrating a shred of conservatism."

Yet, despite a growing group of critics, Drudge still has fierce backers.

When asked to respond to the onslaught of attacks on his friend, Ann Coulter, the best-selling conservative author, replied in a Trump-esqe manner: "SAD!"

Matthew Boyle, Washington editor for Breitbart News, a website often linked to by Drudge, told Business Insider that the criticism stemmed from a "handful of losers."

"Clearly, a handful of losers like David French have a problem with truth and accuracy," he said. "The reason they don't like Drudge is because Drudge gets it right."

Boyle added: "He got it right in the Republican primaries, and he has it right in Dallas. Maybe David French's time would be better spent floating an irrelevant potential presidential campaign again, while Drudge tells America what's really going on."

Others told Business Insider that the latest controversy surrounding Drudge was nothing unexpected.

"I think Drudge is just being Drudge," radio host Erick Erickson said. "I think Drudge sensationalizes things, but he also knows what his readers want. I'm not one to call for a boycott of anyone, but I personally find I go to the site less and less this political season."

Overall, the divide over the Drudge Report appears to reflect the current rift in the Republican Party caused by the bombastic Trump.

The website's loudest supporters are largely backers of Trump, and the Manhattan billionaire has repeatedly lavished praise on it throughout the 2016 cycle. On the other side of the spectrum, members of the "Never Trump" movement have been the most critical, accusing Drudge of being a sellout.

Drudge, for his part, has appeared to bask in the limelight, seemingly enjoying the attention from both fans and critics. He did not respond to an emailed request for comment, but took to Twitter earlier this month to pen a short note to the "lovers and haters."

The Internet-news mogul wrote: "Thank you for your continued readership! The lovers and the haters. Such extraordinary times. Thrilling, actually."

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