THE END OF DRUDGISM?
Eric Boehlert of Media Matters was already noting the waning influence of the Drudge Report in this election cycle a couple of days before Drudge made Ashley Todd's phony story of being mutilated by an Obama supporter a huge headline. Boehlert thinks Drudge has lost his influence because our problems are too serious right now:
... it's obvious that since Wall Street's meltdown commenced five weeks ago, and since America's economic crisis became a tsunami of a news story that's not only dominated the media landscape, but also irrevocably altered the course of the campaign, the Drudge Report has become largely irrelevant in terms of the setting the news agenda for the White House run.
That's because a story like the unfolding credit crisis -- sober and complicated -- knocks Drudge completely out of his element of frivolous, partisan gotcha links....
I think there's truth in that. But that's not the whole story.
I think what's happening is that, even in this serious moment, we're still enjoying stories that have a Drudge-like juiciness -- about Sarah Palin's clothing budget, say, or Joe the Plumber's tax lien -- but we're getting them from Politico and the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo and cable news and even the mainstream press, which means that these stories are all true. They're sourced. They're trustworthy. And that means Drudge has no choice but to pick over and highlight the leavings -- a dubious story about an attack on a campaign worker here, an outlier McCain-friendly poll with questionable methodology there.
The public, in other words, doesn't need Drudge for politicized zinginess -- it's available elsewhere, and the quality is much higher.
Moreover, when Drudge does grab hold of the news cycle with one of his more dubious "exclusives," the speed of the blogosphere/cable news insta-response blunts the impact within hours, if not minutes. It took a day for the Ashley Todd story to fall apart, but Wonkette and, surprisingly, Michelle Malkin were expressing skepticism almost instantly.
Drudge could still compete, but he'd have to try a new approach -- reliability.
I'm not sure he has it in him.