Spin Meister?

I’d like you to take a look at DrudgeReport.  There is an all-out war on Newt Gingrich, not merely by the left-wing media, but particularly on the right side of the political divide.  Drudge has run as many as nine negative articles about Gingrich simultaneously, but he is running few negative articles about Romney, and those he does run are only half-negative, so it’s becoming clear that Drudge is trying to manipulate the outcome in the direction of a result he prefers.  I surely hope conservatives realize that nobody in media is pure, because everybody has biases.  In the case of Drudge, his “developing” take-down story in the middle of last week over the ABC News Marianne Gingrich interview story was his first attempt to ruin Gingrich’s momentum.  When within hours, that attempt failed, making it clear nobody would buy the “big smear” story. Instead, Drudge backed off and began his “death by one-thousand cuts” strategy, and this is what you are now witnessing.

Drudge has learned the lesson well over his years as the prime link aggregation site on the Internet, and indeed, it could be said the term was invented to describe his page.  The problem with Drudge, and it has always been his problem, is that he editorializes in the way he places links to stories in order to manipulate his audience.  His all-out war on Gingrich is a perfect example.  He doesn’t need to write one negative word himself.  He merely decides which stories, where they are placed, and how long they will endure in that position on his page.  A week ago, on Thursday morning, you should have noticed if you visited his site that he was still pushing the Marianne Gingrich story despite the fact that it had already been debunked, and that story persisted as the lead on his page until Thursday night’s debate.  Ordinarily, top stories are not that long-lived on Drudge, but in the case of Gingrich, they go on and on and on.

It’s also the urgency he conveys to his audience.  As I pointed out during last week’s disgraceful episode, when the Gingrich daughters responded to the trash flooding the Drudge site in red letters accompanied by his flashing light symbol, I asked whether he would now treat the antithesis involving the Newt daughters with similar urgency.  Predictably, as was my point, he did not.  This unwillingness to give equal coverage of the debunking of a story indicates a bias, and while I’m accustomed to that coming from most media sources, to see it so openly on Drudge is a bit of a gut-punch.

It’s clear that this is a strategy to take down Newt, and whether he’s coordinating with others, or simply acting out his own political preferences is impossible to determine.  Thursday morning, he continues to run a story by Elliot Abrams from back in the 1980s when Newt was critical of Reagan’s State Department, primarily, but what Drudge fails to mention is that Abrams was the assistant Secretary of State who was under criticism by Gingrich at the time.  On the article itself, you need to flip to page two to learn this by reading the biographical note about Abrams if you didn’t already know it. Most people don’t, and most people don’t make it to page two.  Abrams is also a Council on Foreign Relations player, in case you didn’t know.

What all of this makes clear to me is what I’ve long suspected:  Drudge is part of the GOP’s establishment now.  I’ve had questions about some of the stories he’s placed on his site for years, but he’s the eight-hundred pound Internet gorilla, and there’s little a small voice can say about it.  Some of you will rightly note that he couldn’t run stories that don’t exist, but I will respond that he already has.  That was the meaning of the entire sad episode of last week with the ABC NEws/Marianne Gingrich story: There was no news there, but his placement and pushing of the theme made it a story.  Whether you prefer Gingrich, or any of the others, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Drudge is definitely displaying his bias, whatever the motive.  This is why I have a fundamental distrust of big media, left or right, and it’s also why you shouldn’t be a headlines surfer.  Headlines are frequently misleading, and until you know the guts of a story, it’s best not to form conclusions, because it is too easy to be misled.  We’re all news consumers, but as with any other outlet, be it the “mainstream media” or Drudge, or even this site, you are best always to bear in mind that well-worn but too frequently unobserved phrase: Caveat emptor.

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