• 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.

  • Does Bill Keller read the NYT?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The only reason we ask is that in a New York Observer article about the quickening news cycles and how the more serious work of newspapers no longer drives the debate, Keller mocks the media attention showered all over the McCain camp's phony "lipstick on a pig" attack last week. The Times' executive editor laments how, "The simple-minded silliness of lipstick-on-a-pig filled at least one cable news cycle."

    The thing is, according to Nexis, the transparent lipstick controversy was mentioned in at least twelve different Times articles or columns during the last week.

    Maybe the Times isn't quite as serious as Keller would like us to believe.

  • Bernie Goldberg plays dumb on Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Just said the press turned on McCain because he's no longer bashing conservatives. The far-right press critic dismissed the idea that it's because the press has been turned off by the falsehoods being churned out by the McCain campaign. And Goldberg said the fact that McCain has completely eliminated his interaction with the campaign press has played no role in the tone of the media coverage.

    Best line: Goldberg claimed McCain would be getting much better press if he'd picked "liberal Democrat" Joe Lieberman as his running mate.

  • What am I going to read while I eat my Cheerios?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    I kid, but this actually scares me to death. The Newark Star-Ledger, the largest newspaper in NJ, and one of the best second-tier dailies in the country, might be shut down in January? I realize there are union negotiations going on and the new note from the publisher might just be an attempt to new huge concessions. But as a loyal reader I can attest that the newspaper is getting thinner by the day.