Published March 10, 2010
The top Republican on the Senate committee that received an e-mail warning staffers not to visit the Drudge Report said there is no evidence "whatsoever" of an embedded virus on the news site and suggested the warning was a ruse to steer people away from the sometimes-incendiary page.
"I suspect somebody was trying to make it look as if there's a virus there to discourage people from using Drudge," Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., told CNSNews.com. "Then, somehow, I guess someone in the Capitol got a hold of it and said, yes, we are advising you not to use it."
Inhofe said Drudge is a "great source" and encouraged people to continue using it.
His words of assurance came after the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, the chamber's official gatekeeper, said the Drudge Report, a news aggregator, and whitepages.com, a telephone directory site, "are responsible for the many viruses popping up throughout the Senate," according to an e-mail from the Environment and Public Works Committee obtained by FoxNews.com.
Another e-mail from a separate office warned that staffers who had visited the Drudge Report or White Pages had experienced viruses on their PCs.
"Please avoid using these sites until the Senate resolves this issue," the e-mail read. "The Senate has been swamped the last couples (sic) days with this issue."
But Inhofe suggested political motivations were behind the e-mails.
"The liberals, the extremists, they don't want the information that [Matt Drudge] has because he's a man of truth and most of them don't want the truth," Inhofe said.
The Drudge Report also suggested that politics might be behind the warning, noting in an original story that the e-mail came as the "health care drama in the Capitol reaches a grand finale."
The Drudge Report noted that it served more than 29 million pages Monday without an e-mail complaint about "'pop ups,' or the site serving 'viruses.'"
"The site was seen 149,967 times since March 1st from users at senate.gov and 244,347 times at house.gov. [10,825 visits from the White House, eop.gov]" the Drudge Report wrote.
"The Systems Administrator may want to continue taking her antibiotic until the prescription runs out."
A spokesman for the Environment and Public Works Committee said the Senate Help Desk cited the Drudge Report and whitepages.com only as possible examples of Web sites generating pop-up ads that might be the cause of a recent increase in virus infections.
"Our non-partisan systems administrator notified both Majority and Minority staff that this issue had been brought to her attention," the spokesman said in a written statement. "It is still not exactly clear where the increase in viruses is coming from, and staff have been advised to be cautious with outside Web sites at all times."
A Republican aide to the Environment and Public Works Committee told FoxNews.com that there has been "a flurry of activity in the last couple of days" and that a couple of people on the staff had had "computer problems."
According to CNSNews.com, a follow-up e-mail sent late Tuesday did not mention Drudge.
Brent Baker, the vice president for research and publications at the Media Research Center, wondered why the conservative Drudge was cited as an example instead of a liberal site like the Huffington Post.
"The Huffington Post is also a huge site visited by staff," Baker said. "It actually has far more links to outside sources, outside videos that could be seen as potentially dangerous for viruses and worms."
Baker said it appears that "somebody is a little eager to match a culture of hostility to alternative media," referring to Obama's chief diversity officer who, before joining the administration, laid out a battle plan for liberal activists to target conservative talk radio stations.