But Drudge went conspicuously rogue during Trump’s impeachment trial and subsequent acquittal. While most of the Trump-friendly media was all-in in Trump’s defense, Drudge took the case against the president seriously. His website ran all-caps headlines like “REPUBLICAN CRACKS EMERGE” and “AMERICA BRACES FOR IMPEACHMENT” that weren’t Trump’s preferred narrative.

Trump’s blast at Drudge may be both payback for that presumed betrayal and for questioning his handling of the coronavirus crisis, said Tom Rosenstiel, the executive director of the American Press Institute.

“Trump seems to be a bit frantic about the way the pandemic is being perceived,” Rosenstiel said. “He wants to separate his supporters from what Drudge readers are seeing and reading. . . . Clearly, Trump has to know that Drudge is important for him. But what’s bothering him more now is a situation that he doesn’t really control. Even some Republicans aren’t comfortable with some of his decisions.”