• Rachel Maddow beware

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The good news is your new show is a ratings smash; the highest rated-program on MSNBC right now.

    The bad news is Phil Donahue had the top-rated program on MSNBC when they fired him right before the Iraq war.

    For some reason, the television industry uses different standards to judge the success and failure of liberal hosts.

  • Why can't the press quit the Clintons?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This is rather unsightly, and not to mention media incestuous. It comes courtesy of Michael Crowley at The New Republic and it only highlights the media's need to end their utter fascination with picking apart Clinton phrases, or here, Clinton-related phrases. There's an historic campaign unfolding, why don't reporters and pundits just cover that?

    The topic was Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Crowley noted that the New York Times' Clinton-ologist Patrick Healy had posted this online during a rather goofy IM exchange published in NY mag:

    You know what I keep hearing privately from advisers to Hillary? They say, "Why is it our job to blunt Palin's impact? Hillary is not on the ticket. Obama didn't choose her." I don't think it's so much about resentment, it's an honest assessment that Hillary can only do so much in this regard. (And she doesn't want to be blamed if this vote doesn't go Obama's way.)

    Note the comments were not sourced and were made privately. Nonetheless, Crowley didn't like the gist and announced, "This really doesn't strike me as a line that Hillary's people should be promoting."

    Question: How are Hillary's people "promoting" it if they're discussing it privately? I'm pretty sure her aides are press savvy enough that if their intention was to actually promote that meme, they could do that in the press. To date, they specifically have not. (i.e. If Healy had real sources and real quotes from Clinton aides pushing that theme, he would have published it in the NYTimes.)

    Yet Crowley claims they are "promoting" it, based on a second-hand, unsourced IM exchange.

  • 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.