“I just report the news.”
That phrase may not have the currency of “The check’s in the mail,” but it’s all too familiar as every journalist’s favorite alibi. They always trot it out after printing photos of one man’s last seconds alive or after swarming churchgoers at memorials to slaughtered children. (Although I doubt they’d have pulled this stunt at a mosque.)
One media maven who can actually make that claim with a straight face is Matt Drudge.
On paper, the Drudge Report has no business being as popular and lucrative as it is. The website is as ugly today as it was when it launched in 1997. Sometimes it posts insider tips, such as the Monica Lewinsky story that made the site a household name. Mostly though, Matt Drudge and two staffers simply scan wire services and “real” newspapers, cook up irresistible headlines, then post links back to those same articles.
In other words, he intentionally sends his readers to other news websites in droves. Drudge has been called a parasite, except parasites tend to drain their hosts, not help keep them alive.
“Getting your story linked at The Drudge Report,” one journalist noted, “is more important to a reporter’s reputation nowadays than getting a Pulitzer Prize.”
Other ironies abound. Anecdotal received wisdom has it that most North American reporters use the Drudge Report as their default browser home page and check it multiple times a day, even if many deny it.
Matt Drudge’s critics dismiss his site as a knee-jerk right-wing bullhorn, which makes little sense since: A) he’s been accused of burying stories critical of Obama; and B) as previously explained, Drudge lifts most of his “news” from liberal papers anyhow.
Bizarre left-wing attempts to “out” Matt Drudge as “gay” and therefore discredit him (?!) have fallen flat again and again.
Which brings us to the latest charge against Drudge. You’ll never guess: He’s a racist.
“Dear Matt Drudge: Stop the race stories,,” Brent Budowsky pleaded recently at TheHill.com.
Budowsky scolds Drudge for “the sheer number of race-related and often race-baiting stories that you regularly banner on the Drudge Report.”
The obvious weakness with these self-righteous complaints about Drudge’s editorial judgment is that he doesn’t invent these stories of mayhem, most of which (again) he lifts from liberal newspapers. And these reports happen to reflect the depressing fact that “blacks, who represent about 12 percent of the population, commit about 40 percent of the crime.”
Then last week, lefties could barely contain their delight when Drudge posted a large photo of director Quentin Tarantino along with the following “headline” in the site’s famous bulging ultra-bold type:
N*GGER. N*GGER. N*GGER. N*GGER. N*GGER. N*GGER. N*GGER.
You see, Tarantino’s new movie, Django Unchained, is a period piece about a former slave on a vengeful murder spree. Its star, Jamie Foxx, had just hosted Saturday Night Live and boasted about killing “all the white people in the movie,” adding, “How great is that?”
So Drudge lifted a story from the Hollywood Reporter, which reported that Django Unchained “features no fewer than 109 instances to the ‘N word.’”
Lefties across the Internet exploded in a mass hysterical outbreak of moral posturing and denounced…Matt Drudge. As a “race baiter.” For quoting someone. Who was, in turn, quoting make-believe characters in a fictional movie directed by one of hipsterdom’s (white) cultural icons.
This sorry spectacle of messenger-shooting resembled nothing so much as a herd of stupid naked fat people trying to play Twister.
These rituals of Two Minutes Hate occur throughout cyberspace almost daily. (See “Derbyshire, John.”) I feel like a nerd is trying to pick me up with a line from Star Trek: “Sonny, does this kind of thing actually work?”
It certainly used to. According to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Hannah Arendt once reportedly said something along the lines of, “One of the greatest advantages of the totalitarian elites of the twenties and thirties was to turn any statement of fact into a question of motive.”
Today, these kinds of bad-faith drive-by smears are easier to spread but also easier to counter, due in part—another paradox—by the very citizen-journalist revolution Drudge personifies.
The trouble is, the truth never filters down to everybody. Worse, even if it did, “everybody” is getting dumber and more literal-minded all the time. Boring old-fashioned concepts such as “irony” and “sarcasm” and “correctly using funny-sounding words such as ‘niggardly’” and even “quoting other people, accurately and in context, to make a point” can get you fired or hauled into court.
And it’s so exhausting having to patiently explain that when Rush Limbaugh called Barack Obama “a Magic Negro,” he was simply quoting a black cultural theorist who’d used the expression (one with some provenance) to describe…Barack Obama. I’m nodding off just having to type all that. Again.
No doubt almost every one of Drudge’s accusers immediately surfed over to his site when a story broke on Friday about a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. I’ll bet they continued to revisit the site all weekend, too.
I’d also bet fewer of them noticed a headline, lower down the page, but there just the same:
It turns out that the same day dozens of white women and children were murdered at Sandy Hook, ten African Americans had been wounded by assailants with firearms in one of the strictest gun-control cities in the nation.
Chicago could be said to experience a slow-mo Sandy Hook all year long, year in and year out, except the victims and the assailants tend to be black.
Neither the mainstream media nor Drudge’s excitable foes have expressed much outrage about this ongoing loss of life. Doing so might spoil their gun-control narrative.
If I was Matt Drudge, I’d be tempted to wonder who the real racists really were.
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