By far the biggest coup in the media opposition game for Republicans is a banner headline on the Drudge Report. Currently based in Miami, Matt Drudge’s website first gained notoriety a decade ago with two big scoops from Republican leaks, the identity of Bob Dole’s running mate in 1996 and the existence of a certain stained blue dress less than two years later. Drudge played a major role in the 2004 campaign by peddling opposition claims, very often false, about Democratic candidate John Kerry.
Currently, almost every day Drudge plants at least one viciously negative item about Barack Obama on his site, along with items that attempt to divide Democratic political support by painting a more favorable picture of Hillary Clinton than of Obama. Of course, once having used Clinton to denigrate Obama, Drudge soon follows up with an item that puts the knife into Hillary’s back, all to the advantage of the GOP cause. For example, just today, Drudge is running “Audience member’s sleep during Obama’s speech ” and “Obama praises Japanese carmakers…to Detroit execs.” It doesn’t take too much thought to figure out Drudge’s intention from just those planted items (which goes on day after day).
Today’s issue of Salon Magazine leads with an article that clearly details how the Drudge Report’s unapologetic lies and twisting of political facts continues its mission to brainwash the mind of the American public in the service of the Republican political agenda:
“This year, with no clear GOP leader on the presidential campaign trail, most of the the major Republican campaigns have spent considerable energy trying to invent a close relationship to Drudge. “The mainstream media prides itself on being objective, yet they often run like lemmings to whatever is up on Drudge,” said one senior Republican campaign official, who asked to remain anonymous.
In addition to the “Bomb Iran” video, Drudge was one of the first to post links to a 1989 video clip of Giuliani declaring “there must be public funding for abortions for poor women.” In April, he posted a story suggesting that a blotch on McCain’s head (caused from a bump) was in fact a new case of skin cancer, a false rumor apparently intended to fan concern over McCain’s age. Drudge has also posted embargoed text of Romney’s presidential announcement speech in February. On May 10, he posted the first excerpts of Romney’s May 13 interview on “60 Minutes.”
Some campaign aides have suggested that Drudge’s personal relationships have played a role in what oppo leaks he posts on the site. “I think it’s clear that Romney has gotten fairer treatment from Matt Drudge than any other candidate. There is a lot less negative Romney stuff,” said the senior Republican campaign aide. “It stems back to what many people believe is a very good relationship between the Romney team and Matt Drudge.”
In particular, Matt Rhoades, Romney’s communications director, has a long history as the source for Drudge headlines, having previously served as the research director for the Republican National Committee during the 2006 campaign. In their book “The Way to Win,” Time’s Mark Halperin and the Politico’s John Harris recount that Rhoades traveled to Florida for a friendly steakhouse dinner with Drudge when he took the research director job in 2005. Attempts by e-mail and telephone to ask Drudge about the allegations of favoritism were not successful.
According to Alexa, a Google ranking of Web traffic, the Drudge Report is the 86th most trafficked site in the United States and the seventh most popular site for news. Just by linking to a news story or blog item, Drudge can drive more than 100,000 unique visitors to a Web site. For small news organizations or independent bloggers, which sustain themselves on advertising revenue, a link on Drudge can mean money in the bank, upping the incentive for reporters to post opposition research.
Sometimes in the rush to make a splash, the truth can be lost along the way. Drudge’s April headline “McCain Sings: ‘Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran'” was a quote taken from Harper’s Georgetown Times news story. But as the accompanying video showed, McCain never uttered those exact words. As the Associated Press correctly reported, he said the following, before declining to directly answer a question about whether he would attack Iran: “That old, eh, that old Beach Boys song, ‘Bomb Iran.'” Then he sang, “Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb, anyway, ah …” And he trailed off.”
It didn’t matter, of course. The opposition had done its job. The world believed what the Drudge headline declared. It was just another day in the 2008 campaign.
You can read more Salon’s report here: Link
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