October 4, 2006

Drudge links...

... to this chapter of Mark Halperin and John F. Harris's "The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008" that's reprinted in the Washington Post. I wonder what motivates him. Who can fathom it?
Deep thinkers might say Kerry was beaten by history, since Democrats for nearly forty years had been at a stark disadvantage when national security was the dominant issue in voters' minds. Here is another nominee for who beat John Forbes Kerry: Matthew Drudge.

If you are reading this book, you probably know who Matt Drudge is. It is a guarantee that most of the reporters, editors, producers, and talk show bookers who serve up the daily national buffet of news recently have checked out his eponymous website, and that www.drudgereport.com is bookmarked on their computers. That is one reason Drudge is the single most influential purveyor of information about American politics.

Drudge, with his droll Dickensian name, was not the only media or political agent whose actions led to John Kerry's defeat. But his role placed him at the center of the game -- a New Media World Order in which Drudge was the most potent player in the process and a personification of the dynamics that did Kerry in. Drudge and his ilk made Kerry toxic -- and unelectable.

Anger, prurience, invective, conspiracy theory -- all are native flowers on the American landscape. What is new is the greenhouse in which these blossoms are cultivated and sold. This greenhouse was built on two beams. The first was the disintegration of editorial filters in the Old Media, which in an earlier age prevented the most salacious tales and bitter accusations (though certainly not all) from entering the public arena. The New Media -- talk radio, cable television, Internet websites -- for the most part never had these editorial ¿lters.
(Gee, I wish I had some Old Media editorial ¿lters to clean up my writing!) [ADDED NOTE: The editing nightmare at the linked page has been cleaned up, so I've replaced the block text except the last one, which is needed to understand my wisecrack.]
Many of its leading voices, Drudge among them, are openly contemptuous of the very idea. The Old Media, faced with ¿lter-free [sic... this is getting tiresome] competition, responded by loosening or discarding its own....
I could go on, but I'd have to reprint too much. Suffice it to say, the Drudge name appears about 20 more times on the linked page. It was Drudge, you know, that got us all laughing at John Kerry's hair, "the thick mane atop Kerry's lean, craggy face [that] should have registered in the strengths column." Mean Drudge. Bad Drudge. Kerry's a looker, and you messed with our minds!

27 comments:

dicconzane said...

It's no big shock to find out about drudge. The media have always tainted or just plain lead public opinion. That's why politicians spend so very much on both positive and negative campaigns. The whole of politics is riddled with misrepresentation of the people, the facts and almost anything else you care to mention. Can we ship all politicians off to a distant island (I'm not keen on shooting, it's messy) and start again?

Diccon

yetanotherjohn said...

I have only visited Drudge two or three times over the last two years. He always seemed like the supermarket tabloid of blogs. Lets face it, the tabloids sell (hence their continued existence), they just don't sell to me.

Ann Althouse said...

I click on Drudge whenever I want to get a quick picture of how the world looks in a familiar, clear format. That is, many times a day.

Fenrisulven said...

I used to frequent Drudge, only because he had links to so many good writers. Then the blogosphere hit.

I wonder how neanderthals regarded species on the verge of extinction.

He needs to adapt too. Though I admit, if he hadn't run with the FR/LGF outing of Rather/Mapes, ABC never would have picked up the story.

SteveR said...

I'm with Ann, Drudge is a quick and easy place to see what's going on. His links are sometimes difficult to use (too much traffic) but I can get what I want in a few seconds.

Gerry said...

You know, one probably should not be ranting about conspiracy theories when one uses the phrase "New Media World Order", which harkens to that old conspiracy theory throwback, the "New World Order."

Sheesh.

altoids1306 said...

I think the chief indignation registered in the free chapter is the belief that "the right candidate win."

I think most people who consider themselves intelligent believe that intelligence, that is, competence, is the most important qualification for any job. The man who should be President is the man who has a deep understanding of the problems, has the best policies, has worked hard and thought hard and deserves the job. He is the right candidate.

But no. The person who becomes President is whoever gets the most electoral votes.

And that's the real problem for Gore and Kerry. It's not about who's right. It's about who you trust. Demosthenes was right about Macedon, but the Athenians didn't listen, and Athens was conquered anyways. Lincoln was spectacularly wrong in the early years of the Civil War, but he had the trust of the people, and the Union was saved.

By this measure, Bush is quite bad - he does not inspire much trust, and he is wrong more often than right. But the Dem alternatives are worse.

Jeff said...

I dont know that I would agree that Bush doesnt inspire must trust, or that he is wrong more than he is right, but I would agree that he won because the other guy was worse. By all rights, Bush should have lost that last election. Kerry has only Kerry to blame. Not Ohio, not the machines, not anyone else.

amba said...

I could go on, but I'd have to reprint too much.

And you'd have an awful case of the [sic]cups.

Bruce Hayden said...

Drudge is Drudge. And don't forget Monica Lewinsky, which put him on the map.

But the article is right, as it is harder and harder for the MSM to ignore stories, once Drudge has run with them.

DaveG said...

he does not inspire much trust,

That depends. Obviously, I can't always trust him to be right. Facile bumper sticker memes to the contrary, though, I never get the feeling that I'm being lied to.

Selective marketing of ideas? Yes, sure. I sensed the WMD manipulation in the run-up to the war and clearly remember all of the other various causus beli as they were market tested on us.

But outright "I did not have sex with that woman" lies? No, not from Bush.

Jim Hu said...

Most of the [sic]s are probably from the source trying to paste Word into HTML. "fi" and "fl" are often represented by ligatures.

Sometimes these things render better on some browsers than others. Safari is not very good at unusual characters that violate HTML standards.

Balfegor said...

Re: altoids
The man who should be President is the man who has a deep understanding of the problems, has the best policies, has worked hard and thought hard and deserves the job. He is the right candidate.

This may be the thought process. What's not clear to me is why the thought process would lead to "I should vote for Kerry." Because it's (a) not clear that Kerry had a deep understanding of the problems, (b) that Kerry had thought or was capable of thinking hard, or (c) that Kerry deserved the job. Wasn't Prof. Althouse even one of the people pointing out, during the 2004 election, that Kerry's academic/intellectual credentials appeared to be even more mediocre than Bush's? I certainly thought they were. The contrast was still more marked when one compared John Edwards and Dick Cheney.

I think that if you asked many people who voted against Bush in the last election, what you wrote is the kind of thing they would say. But I don't think it is actually satisfactorily explanatory here.

My view is that there's a much stronger cultural issue intervening -- that Bush disdains intellectuals, so they (or most of them) disdain him in turn, while Kerry (or Gore), though perhaps not particularly adept at intellectual pursuits, assigns a value to intellectual capability more closely aligned with intellectuals' own perceptions of their self-worth.

tjl said...

"Drudge and his ilk made Kerry toxic¿and [sic] unelectable...."

Kerry needed no help from Drudge in seeming toxic and unelectable. Kerry's own unique gift is for making people feel uncomfortable, for generating a sort of negative ion-field that was palpable even to those who felt compelled to vote for him.

Revenant said...

My view is that there's a much stronger cultural issue intervening -- that Bush disdains intellectuals, so they (or most of them) disdain him in turn, while Kerry (or Gore), though perhaps not particularly adept at intellectual pursuits, assigns a value to intellectual capability more closely aligned with intellectuals' own perceptions of their self-worth.

I think that's pretty much exactly it.

Personally, my impression from listening to Bush is that he does have ideas, and has indeed thought about them, but is atrocious at communicating them. That's hardly shocking to me -- my field has plenty of intelligent, thoughtful people who can't coherently communicate with their coworkers.

My impression from listening to Kerry, though, was that what Democrats saw as "nuance" was just an inability to form coherent thoughts about issues -- he came off like a poor man's Chauncy Gardner. The problem, I suspect, is that Kerry was trying to imitate something he really isn't -- he's a pacifist socialist trying to pass himself off as a war leader with Clintonian economic ideas. His inability to actually talk about what he believed reflected the fact that what he believed would earn him about 30% of the popular vote.

noah said...

Yeah, I guess, maybe so...whatever.

I read somewhere that Bush places great weight in crafting speeches...almost immediately after winning in 2004 he set his speechwriter to writing the inaugural speech. As I remember there were some very good parts (the almost dirge-like "You (they) should know..." about America's resolve, etc.) but for the most part Bush (and his speechwriter) are pretty tone deaf even with months of preparation.

But how many different ways can you say that we must win?

Richard Dolan said...

I suspect that Halperin and Harris have specific reasons for offering such a skewed, and basically silly, picture of the 2004 election, and that even they don't accept their own thesis that Drudge was a significant factor in Kerry's loss. It's certainly easier to blame Drudge rather than, say, the inherent limitations of the candidate or, worse, the candidate's message (assuming anyone was able to figure it out). If one adopts the latter view, then the solution lies in addressing the weaknesses in that message. Democrats don't want to go there, so they offer up a comforting boogieman instead.

I think the truth is much simpler. People, particularly folks for whom politics is a bit tiresome and artificial, don't pay attention to all the minutia in an election campaign. But that doesn't make them the kind of easily duped dummies, unable to see through a sound-bite, that Halperin and Harris imply. Instead, by the time election day comes around, the voters collectively know enough about the candidates and their positions to make an informed choice. So long as there is enough time to respond to an October surprise (think of the problem created for Bush by disclosure of his DUI conviction on the weekend before the election in 2000), Drudge (and, for that matter, the NYT) don't have the ability to impact on the outcome of a national election in the way Halperin and Harris suggest.

Like others on this string, I often skim Drudge's site to see what he is featuring as the lead stories of the day, before moving on to RCP to see what their take is on the same thing. Perhaps people in the MSM feel a need to check him out to make sure that they're not going to be scooped, or for some other reason. All of those guys, both on the Internet and in the MSM, have a professional interest in exaggerating their influence. That, plus the desire to avoid more painful explanations, seems to me to be what's going on in this piece by Halperin and Harris.

Mickey said...

I listened to drudge last sunday ~on the radio~ and all he could comment on was the foley folly. The whole three hours !
I know what motivates him.

I could almost hear him sweat...

Revenant said...

But how many different ways can you say that we must win?

Rather a lot, if you're a good public speaker. There's a lot of variety in the wartime speeches of FDR and Churchill, even though not much of it was devoted to musing about whether it was time to cut and run.

Bush is excellent speaking one-on-one with people. He stinks to high heaven at giving speeches and selling his ideas to a mass audience. Basically he's the opposite of Clinton, who is a fantastic public speaker but comes off as uncaring in person.

downtownlad said...

Drudge is practically my home page. He links to the BEST articles out there.

Seven Machos said...

Why is it that Republicans fail because of their inherent suckiness but Democrats always fail because of some external force? Fox News. Drudge. Swiftboating.

Also, where were The Note's guys and their thesis when they were predicting that Kerry would win throughout 2004? The caches are there.

Revenant said...

Why is it that Republicans fail because of their inherent suckiness but Democrats always fail because of some external force? Fox News. Drudge. Swiftboating.

Because the left-wing bias of pretty much the entire non-Fox media convinces them that everyone in the world agrees with them. So naturally when they run smack into the reality that most of the country *doesn't* agree with them, they're forced to desperately grope for some flimsy rationalization for their failure.

Cousin Don said...

At least in Taxaxhusetts John Kerry has been called John "the Hair" Kerry for quite a number of year.

The funny thing is he actually reduced the extent of his "mane" for the Presidential run.

Hayek said...

My simple view of the world,as I tell my son, is that it is made up of doers and talkers. In the last two presedential elections the doer prevailed over the talker.

Ann Althouse said...

Hayek: Kerry is a terrible speaker.

tjl said...

"Because the left-wing bias of pretty much the entire non-Fox media convinces them that everyone in the world agrees with them. So ...they're forced to desperately grope for some flimsy rationalization for their failure."

If you relied solely on the NYT or CBS for your political news and analysis, and never read between the lines or applied any filtering for bias, you'd develop the following:
1) a Manichean worldview in which all virtue belongs to Democrats; and
2) a presumption that in any fair election the Democrat will win.

If that doesn't happen, you would immediately assume corruption, undue influence by right-wing media, or outright fraud. That explains the left's obsession with Karl Rove, as well as absurd stories like this one about Drudge. It's not dementia, it's just the liberal cocoon.

Robert Burnham said...

I didn't need Drudge or any other web site to tell me Kerry wasn't going to win. One look at the guy's mournful face was enough.

Once TV became a major factor in presidental politics, Americans overwhelmingly began to chose presidents who look confident and upbeat about the future.

Kerry looked like neither and what's worse, frequently said as much.

I suspect the only reason Kerry didn't lose by a huge margin was the Democrats' utter loathing for Bush. That brought more Democrat voters out on election day than a dismal candidate such as Kerry would normally have gotten.