Salon has a piece up about how conservative Internet superhero Matt Drudge has been responsible for nearly half of the Washington Times’ web traffic over the last year. Lindsay Beyerstein writes:

For the past year, Drudge has provided the Washington Times with, on average, 46 percent of its monthly traffic. In November of 2011, the Drudge Report sent 4.7 million visitors to the Washington Times website, or 57 percent of all the Times’ traffic that month. By comparison, just 820,000 visitors actually accessed the Times through its homepage that November. (These numbers come from the Times’ internal Google Analytics statistics, which Salon obtained.)

Beyerstein says that the Drudge Report began linking to the Times when two of his staffers—Joseph Curl and Charlie Hurt—started working for the Times.

Are Hurt and Curl channeling traffic from one employer to another? And could the Times have hired Hurt and Curl with the expectation that the site would benefit from their jobs at Drudge? Hurt, Curl and Drudge, along with the Washington Times president, Tom McDevitt, all declined to comment. However, as editors at the Drudge Report, a famously small and close-knit shop, it seems unlikely that they are unaware of — or unconnected to — the sudden boom in Washington Times links. Both men have also personally benefited from their dual employment, as the Drudge Report has given their Washington Times’ columns coveted spots on the website’s blogroll. (Such a black box is the Drudge Report editorial apparatus that Curl and Hurt declined to comment on what their specific roles are at Drudge or whether, in fact, they even worked there still. A Washington Times insider says that both, however, continue to work for Drudge.)

Interesting! Obviously linking to friends and associates is fairly common on the Internet—but the cloak-and-dagger of it all is what makes this story such a fascinating one.

If you’re interested in the weird world of the Times, check out a City Paper cover story from November 2010. In it, Moe Tkacik considered its future after it was purchased back by the Unification Church’s Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the man who created it.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery