Matt Drudge: Drudge Manifesto

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Drudge, Matt. Drudge Manifesto (New York: New American Library, 2000)

Matt Drudge's Drudge Report website was revolutionary in the sense that Drudge's hyperlinked gossiping anticipated the era of blogs and RSS feeds, while Drudge himself was reactionary in his focus on libel and lasciviousness. Initially notorious for being sued by Sidney Blumenthal (after accusing him of spousal abuse), Drudge later broke both the Clinton/Lewinsky story (which Newsweek had--after internal discussion--declined to publish) and its notorious cigar incident.) As the US District Judge Paul Friedman noted in the Blumenthal v. Drudge lawsuit, "Drudge is not a reporter, a journalist or a newsgatherer. He is, as he himself admits, simply a purveyor of gossip."

Drudge's dedication of his book to Linda Tripp left a vomit-in-my-mouth taste that was, if anything, amplified by the book's contents. His writing style is annoyingly fragmented and disjointed; his salacious and braggadocio is easily mocked, as in the Sludge Report website. On paper, Drudge practically parodies himself:

I'm sought out--even venerated--by the very people who trash me. I have little ambition, but they make me famous. Which is interesting. And infamous. Not boring. Notorious. Even better. (p. 36)

There is as little actual content in this book as one might expect, and his scattershot style doesn't help. Neither does his poor scholarship. On page 141, Drudge recites a quotation--allegedly from Abraham Lincoln--that is widely known to be false:

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country... corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." (See this Snopes article for details.)

One might be tempted to hope--despite his myriad shortcomings--that Drudge would seek a broader series of targets in the post-Clinton era, but his assertion that "The person that sits in the Oval Office next will get my undivided attention." (p. 206, from a Q&A at the National Press Club, 2 June 1998) seems to have been disproved by the dearth of Bush-era bombshells. Drudge seems to prefer attacking Hillary--and even Gore--to helping salvage America from the ravages of Bushism. (In fact, Drudge is infamous enough to warrant his own section at the media bias site MediaMatters.)

Many lamentations have been written on the decline (and presaged demise) of traditional journalism, but one shudders to think that this sort of worthless tripe--bereft of erudition, shorn of context, lacking both style and substance--will be its replacement. This book is perhaps the saddest of many sad commentaries on American reportage, both online and off. Drudge does, however, provide a useful Quote of the Day:

"Sometimes, I think Matt Drudge and Don Imus have more influence than Bill Moyers and David Broder. And that's a pretty sad thing to say." (p. 97, Jay Harris, Chairman and Publisher of the San Jose Mercury News)

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on January 23, 2008 1:37 PM.

who's the fool? was the previous entry in this blog.

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