- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Drudge Report is still the king of conservative aggregator websites, but its rivals are gaining ground.

Five right-tilting upstarts — Whatfinger News, Liberty Daily, Rantingly, NewsAmmo and Gab Trends — increased their average monthly traffic and engagement, as measured by average visit duration and average pages per visit, from September-October 2018 to 2019, according to SimilarWeb, which shared its data with The Washington Times.

Another Drudge competitor, the no-frills Citizen Free Press, is also going gangbusters, drawing 2.5 million views in October after launching two years ago.

At the same time, the marketing-intelligence company found traffic to the Drudge Report during that period declined by 15%. From July to October, Drudge dropped from 96 million total visits to 77 million, prompting recent headlines such as True Pundit’s “Drudge Bleeds Out as Conservatives Flee.”

The Drudge Report has stoked alarm on the right for appearing to pivot on its support for President Trump, increasingly linking to stories that are critical of the administration and to media websites that are accused of having an anti-Trump bias such as CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The same cannot be said of Whatfinger, the largest of the Drudge rivals, which favors links to conservative news and opinion websites such as Fox News, Breitbart, Daily Signal, Daily Wire, Western Journal and WorldNet Daily.

Whatfinger grew by 40.8% year-over-year, increasing its traffic from 2.23 million to 3.2 million. The next largest site, the Liberty Daily, grew by 72% as its average monthly visits grew to 1.72 million, according to SimilarWeb.

The Liberty Daily makes no bones about its rivalry, cheekily billing itself as “The Conservative Alternative to the Drudge Report.”

B.J. Rudell, associate director of the Center for Political Leadership, Innovation and Service at Duke University, said the growth of Drudge rivals reflects a polarized climate in which news-seekers “want to read what they already believe.”

“Trump’s approval numbers haven’t changed much in the past year,” Mr. Rudell said. “But Drudge’s editorializing of Trump has. So it’s reasonable to expect that some conservative Drudge readers — those who have stuck by Trump — would look elsewhere.”

At Rantingly, the banner headline Tuesday was “Bloomberg Hopelessly Compromises His Media Company” and linked to a New York Post article. The website grew year-over-year by 316%, increasing from 61,000 monthly visits to 255,000.

NewsAmmo, founded last year by a “few friends who live in Texas and Nebraska,” had the lowest traffic numbers but the highest growth, logging 12,700 monthly visits in September-October.

The youngest site, Gab Trends, part of the right-wing social-media network Gab, launched last month and has already built its average monthly traffic 67,400,” said SimilarWeb.

Drudge Report founder Matt Drudge did not respond to a request for comment.

He has yet to comment publicly on reports of his shift, but theories for the pivot include his friendship with anti-Trump conservative Ann Coulter or a possible loss of confidence in Mr. Trump’s ability to execute a conservative agenda.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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