A tweet from conservative media icon Matt Drudge's verified Twitter account Thursday night appeared to accuse the government of interfering with his website, DrudgeReport.com, just hours after the Barack Obama administration announced new sanctions against Russia over election hacking.
"Is the US government attacking DRUDGE REPORT? Biggest DDoS since site's inception. VERY suspicious routing [and timing]," the tweet to Drudge's 457,000 followers read. There were no other tweets from the account at the time.
A large-scale distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS, can cause major Internet disruptions. In the past, such attacks have shut down major websites such as Twitter, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, Tumblr, and Reddit. The attack sends a server many illegitimate requests to make it hard for real requests to get through, effectively shutting down the site.
Drudge Report was down briefly around 7 p.m. EST, but working hours later. The top headline read: "MOSCOW MOCKS OBAMA 'LAME DUCK'" Meanwhile, the conservative Washington Times wrote: "Matt Drudge suggests U.S. government cyberattack on Drudge Report website. DDoS attack comes same day Obama announced countermeasures against Russia for hacking of Democrats."
Conservatives on Twitter also accused the government of shutting down the Russian news website, RT. "Numerous reports of Russian state-run Network RT being unavailable. Drudge Report also under 'Biggest DDoS attack since site's inception,'" wrote one user.
President Barack Obama announced Thursday sanctions against several Russian agencies and individuals after cyberattacks during the 2016 presidential election against Democratic Party institutions that appeared to help Donald Trump win over Hillary Clinton.
"All Americans should be alarmed by Russia's actions. In October, my administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process," Obama said. "These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year. Such activities have consequences."
Government officials have wrangled with Drudge before over his alleged false claims. With 2 million daily unique visitors and around 700 million monthly page views, DrudgeReport.com was the top site for referral traffic in 2014 to the Daily Mail, CNN, Fox News, Roll Call, Breitbart, The New York Times, USA Today, Associated Press and other news sites. Its readers were loyal, staying on the site for an average of 30 minutes, Politico reported.
"People are religious in how they come to Drudge," Vipul Mistry, Intermarket's Business Development manager, told Politico's On Media blog. "When we analyzed all our audience that's what it is, people are on there not only in morning, they tend to leave it open as it refreshes."