Was the Drudge Report hacked?

Links to pro-Clinton stories confuse loyal Drudge haters.

Published January 11, 2002 6:52PM (EST)

For those of you who clicked on the Drudge Report Wednesday morning, a couple of headlines in the left-hand column may have caught your eye.

"FLASHBACK: President Clinton wants Senate to hurry with new anti-terrorism laws ... "

"Decries Congress' response to proposals ... "

The links went to an old CNN story, and the text of a speech by President Clinton, both from 1996, which showed that Clinton urged the quick passage of anti-terrorism legislation, while Republican leaders, including then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, dragged their feet.

"President Clinton urged Congress Tuesday to act swiftly in developing anti-terrorism legislation before its August recess," reads the July 20, 1996, CNN story.

"'We need to keep this country together right now. We need to focus on this terrorism issue,' Clinton said during a White House news conference.

"But while the president pushed for quick legislation, Republican lawmakers hardened their stance against some of the proposed anti-terrorism measures," CNN reported.

The debate has raged on ever since Sept 11. Conservatives such as Andrew Sullivan have placed the blame at the feet of the former president, while others blame the Republican Congress.

"Yeah, the record doesn't lie, and Bartcop.com has it!" writes Salon reader William Kirk. "In fact, Drudge had it up yesterday because one of us hacked into his stupid site. And I think you should be next, Salon. Fuck you very much for [Sullivan's] stupid commentary."

Well, gentle reader, this column will leave the Clinton legacy battle to the experts. Red vs. Blue is far more interested in the allegation that Drudge was hacked.

Drudge himself was uncharacteristically silent when contacted about the hacking allegations and did not immediately respond to Red vs. Blue's e-mails. As for the "us" referenced in Kirk's letter, that also remains unclear. But we did hear back from some of the folks at the lefty bulletin board sites, who would be near the top of any suspects list for Drudge mischief, and not one of them is taking credit for the alleged tampering.

"The odd thing is that the pro-Clinton pieces he picked up seemed to have been on buzzflash.com first," says BuzzFlash editor Mark Karlin. "As far as BuzzFlash is concerned, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and he is free to grab from our headlines."

It seems unlikely that Drudge was indeed hacked. The headlines were posted on Tuesday and were up until at least the early afternoon on Wednesday. Drudge diligently polices his site, and if it were actually hacked, he could have simply taken those headlines down immediately. And if Clintonites were to hack the Drudge Report, you'd think they'd wreak a little more havoc than posting a couple of headlines on the bottom third of the screen.

Karlin says he has no knowledge of any hacking of the Drudge Report, but the folks at Media Whores Online were so taken aback by the links that they actually ran with the "Drudge Hacked" headline. But now MWO editors say they may have jumped the gun.

"Well, we leapt to the conclusion that he was hacked, so presented our headline as 'DRUDGE HACKED.' But actually I don't know what explains it," they write in an e-mail. "I think he has some kind of condition that makes him tell the truth on occasion. He was the only one who reported the media consortium recount results accurately, something that equally freaked us out."

Developing HARD ...

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By Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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