• Not like the old days

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Remember when being a White House correspondent was the ultimate assignment for D.C. reporters, and then it became not so great because reporters ended up trapped inside a controlled bubble with little or no access? Well, time to add campaign trail reporters to that used-to-be-great mix. Now the assignment's like a career trip to purgatory.

    Mike Allen and Carrie Budoff Brown at Politico detail how following prez candidates from town to town is pretty much a worthless occupation for journalists these days.

  • How many?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Mickey Kaus:

    Can the $9 million raised tonight by Obama at that Beverly Hills Barbra Streisand celebrity fundraiser possibly win him as many votes as the bad publicity from the fundraiser is losing him? I don't think so.

    How many people does Mickey Kaus think would have otherwise voted for Barack Obama, but will either stay home or vote for John McCain because Barbra Streisand sang at a fundraiser for Obama?

    We're a nation at war, with a collapsing economy and a President who views the Constitution as little more than a set of recommendations -- and Mickey Kaus thinks voters are going to vote against a candidate because Barbra Streisand had a fundraiser for him? Why would Slate publish someone who has such obvious contempt for his readers?

  • Michelle Malkin vs. Gawker

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Malkin's P.O.'d that Gawker published some of the hacked contents from Palin's email account. Gawker notes that Malkin's pretty much an expert on publishing personal info about her foes.

  • Why Drudge can't be trusted

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Example No. 74.

    For the unfolding, Palin's-emails-got-hacked-story, Drudge posted a screaming red headline, "Secret Service movies in." But the linked story does not report that the Secret Service is investigating. It speculates what the Secret Service should do if it gets involved.

    Daily Kos diarist "nailbiter" has more.

  • Scapegoating Matt Drudge

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    It's apparently Matt Drudge Day in the progressive blogosphere, jumping off WaPo reporter Chris Cillizza's post about the right-wing Internet gossip.

    Cillizza argues that The Drudge Report has become more pro-McCain and anti-Obama, though Cillizza is quick to dismiss those who would offer the obvious explanation:

    What explains the change in tone? It's easy to lapse into the tired old logic that Drudge is nothing more than a conservative mouthpiece returning to his roots as election day nears.

    I don't believe any serious observer actually doubts that the content of The Drudge Report is skewed in favor of conservatives. Of course it is. But because that's so obvious, reporters think it's dull, so they insist on trying to find some other explanation for the fact that -- yet again -- Drudge seems to be favoring the GOP.

    There are certain basic facts about The Drudge Report that are all but undeniable:

    1) Drudge's site leans right

    2) Drudge often gets things wrong and peddles absurd and false claims

    3) Despite 1 & 2, "real" reporters frequently take their cues from Drudge

    Everybody who has been paying attention for the past decade knows those three things. More often than not, when reporters write a story about Drudge, they include at least one of those three points -- and sometimes all three. They're such common knowledge that reporters who want to write about Drudge are bored with them, as Cillizza apparently is, and desperately flail about trying to find some new angle.

    They never succeed, though, in part because they avoid the elephant in the room raised by those three facts -- the fourth all-but-undeniable fact about Matt Drudge:

    4) Reporters know 1-3 above, but don't change their behavior

    That's what's interesting about The Drudge Report -- what it tells us about the rest of the media. Exploring the reasons why that is true -- and what it says about political journalism, and how to change it -- might make for an interesting article.

    Certainly more interesting than yet another pointless effort to read the mind of the mysterious Matt Drudge.

    And when you start thinking about what The Drudge Report tells us about the rest of the media, you have to wonder if Drudge is really their leader -- or just their scapegoat, as I argued last December. Think of it this way: If Matt Drudge didn't exist, would Mark Halperin spend his time writing detailed, substantive comparisons of the candidates' positions on executive power, health care, and financial services deregulation?

    Seems pretty unlikely.

    UPDATE: Greg Sargent:

    What's more, another topic that Drudge-ologists will never dare to broach is the question of whether reporters and editors should take their cues from a confirmed serial fact-inventor. Is this, you know, a bad thing? What does it say about the business? Don't the same reporters and editors who proclaim Drudge's influence make editorial decisions to follow him when they do? Isn't one of the dirty secrets of the profession that reporters and editors on occasion actually tailor their stories to get Drudge links?

    If Drudge is going to consume our attention, how about a real discussion of Drudge and what the Drudge phenomenon says about the journalism profession -- one that goes beyond the narrow question of how influential he is? The last thing we need is yet more auto-pilot Drudge-worship.

  • Comedy as political media

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Naomi Foner at Huffington Post offers up some advice to SNL:

    In a time of great political turmoil it seems almost essential that these creative, funny people step up to their responsibility to make people think. They can still be funny. Jon Stewart is funny. Stephen Colbert is funny. That Was The Week That Was was funny. But also relevant. Choose your style. Entertain. SIng. Dance. But stir the pot.

    Note that SNL writers said they included Hillary Clinton in last week's Sarah Palin skit because they were more comfortable making fun of both political parties. Cutting edge, eh?

  • Focus

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Brian Beutler argues that, despite the focus by some media on how the present dire economic situation will "affect the electoral prospects of the presidential candidates," actual voters probably want more useful information:

    From where I sit, though, we're witnessing a series of events that might lead to a fundamental restructuring of the financial sector--risk tolerance, jurisdictions of federal agencies, closing loopholes in existing regulations, etc--and voters might also want to know how these guys have voted on related issues, which one was best buds with Charles Keating, and so on.

  • Drudge hates Democrats. This is news?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Apparently it is for Chris Cilliazza at, who seems genuinely puzzled why the Drudge Report is pushing anti-Obama stories and not posting ones that hurt McCain. What's next, a look at how the sun rises in the east?

    Josh Orton at MyDD has more on Cillizza's woes.