For at least eight years, I have read the Drudge Report on a daily basis. Despite his reputation as an extreme right-winger, Matt Drudge has often done the best job at catching the stories that fall between the cracks or at predicting tomorrow's news today. Drudge, so goes the conventional wisdom, drives the mainstream ("liberal elite") media. More often than not it has been the case that if you read it on Drudge, you'll see it in the MSM a few hours later.
I started reading Drudge back in 2000 because his site used to be the only place to find news from all over the world and from multiple media sources. These days, however, I rely on sites like Newsvine to do that work for me. Thanks to Newsvine, in fact, I have found myself visiting Drudge far less frequently and usually only to give a cursory glance at the headlines. This amount of attention I have continued to dedicate under the assumption that Drudge is still the guiding force behind most of today's news coverage. Eric Boehlert, writing for Media Matters, however, has argued forcefully that this is no longer the case. Writes Boehlert:
The race is unrecognizable in terms of where the players are situated now and where they were five weeks ago. (Between September 15 and October 19, there was a 12-point swing in the Gallup daily tracking poll.) Now ask yourself: What role has the Drudge Report played in that burst of campaign movement? The answer, of course, is zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. His trademark flashing red lights have gone missing.Is it possible that with the explosion of new web resources for news, the Drudge Report has outlived its usefulness (or at least its relevance)? During the primary season I was often surprised by Drudge's even-handedness, even defending Obama from the Obama-as-Muslim web smears. Unfortunately, however, it has been all too easy to see Drudge's right-wing agenda in his general election coverage. Drudge isn't just covering the news, he's pushing a narrative agenda. Particularly disturbing has been his selective coverage of McCain-favorable polling data and his twisting of Obama's ties to ACORN. None of this, however, has had an impact on the real world. Even FOX News is reporting a 9-point lead for Obama, but Drudge's top polling story is an AP outlier reporting the race as a tie.
Drudge is still occasionally interesting, but more and more often I find the most interesting stories elsewhere (like the Daily Beast, which led me to the Media Matters report on Drudge's decline in influence). I won't remove Drudge from my bookmarks, but I don't think I need him in my Morning Coffee anymore.