There are two new movies in the works about internet provocateur Matt Drudge, and with the mic dropping on Roe v. Wade, today, they couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.

Drudge has been dictating the national news conversation for decades, but he wasn’t always doing it out of the limelight. The tale of how a CBS Studios gift shop clerk came to inform the most powerful leader of the free world (Trump used to be a big fan) and the likes of the late Rush Limbaugh has been documented in articles, books, and a television...

There are two new movies in the works about internet provocateur Matt Drudge, and with the mic dropping on Roe v. Wade, today, they couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.

Drudge has been dictating the national news conversation for decades, but he wasn’t always doing it out of the limelight. The tale of how a CBS Studios gift shop clerk came to inform the most powerful leader of the free world (Trump used to be a big fan) and the likes of the late Rush Limbaugh has been documented in articles, books, and a television series. Drudge went dumpster diving, found a discarded contract, and was the first to report that Jerry Seinfeld was negotiating for $1 million an episode for his show. Drudgereport.com reported on numerous other exclusives and really took off when it broke the news of the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal.

What gets lost sometimes is all of Drudge’s other firsts. Matt Drudge was the first online “influencer.” He was working remotely before it was a thing. People also forget he was one of the first victims of cancel culture.

Before retreating to what I like to imagine is a secret Batman-style Batcave with excellent wi-fi somewhere in Miami, Drudge briefly had his own television show on the Fox News Channel. I was a kid when Drudge debuted in 1998, but my parents never missed it, and it stands out in my memory: theatrical lighting on Drudge’s old-timey, expressive face and the classic fedora made it feel more like he was recording a Dick Tracy story for radio than discussing Clinton’s impeachment.

The show didn’t last long. Drudge wanted to use a photo of a twenty-one-week-old fetus reaching out from its mother’s womb to grasp the surgeon’s hand on his show. (The famous photo is called the “Hand of Hope” and can be seen here.) Fox said no.

“Fox officials said the photo Drudge had insisted on showing was of an emergency surgical procedure to save the life of a fetus with spina bifida,” the Associated Press reported at the time. A Fox spokesman accused Drudge of trying to use the photo “as a jumping-off point to talk about partial-birth abortion,” labeling it “a blatant misrepresentation.”

“I was not going to depict it as a partial-birth abortion procedure,” Drudge countered. “I made that very clear; I was going to identify it as a spina bifida operation, but say, look at this hand coming out. We’ve never seen a photo this graphic showing what life there is at twenty-one weeks.”

Drudge took to his website and wrote the headline, “I WILL NOT BE CENSORED!” His show ended. He issued an apology to Fox for comments he made “in the heat of the moment.” The New York Post reported the separation was amicable and that Drudge had been looking to get out of his contract anyway. But then the Washington Post reported that Drudge, “an ardent opponent of abortion,” had changed his mind and “decided against quitting.”

We may never know exactly what happened with Drudge’s Fox show, but we do know that even without it — or maybe because it ended — Drudge went on to dedicate his time and energy toward transforming the social and political narrative of a nation. In an interview with Radar magazine in 2003, Drudge told Camille Paglia:

Oh, yeah. I’m a pro-life conservative who doesn’t want the government to tax me. There are issues that I’m so frightened of — 1.2 million abortions a year scares the hell out of me. Oftentimes when I see these superstorms forming, you know, sometimes — I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t think it was retribution. I also am opposed to big government. Now, you would argue: Well, how could you support a government interfering with the rights of a woman over her own body? But I would argue: No. That all life is sacred. Abortion is the issue that really motivates me.

The Drudge Report took a perplexing turn when Trump took office, but I’ve never seen anything to indicate that Drudge’s views on abortion have changed. And I can’t help but think the most important Supreme Court case of all time would not be where it is today if it weren’t for Drudge’s influential work and legacy.