The Drudge Effect

By Jesse Taylor
Thursday, July 10, 2008 20:56 EDT
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imageMatt Drudge has always reminded me of that inexplicably popular kid in grade school, the one who wasn’t particularly clever or witty or rich or anything, but who could get a tooth knocked out riding a bike and send half the class to the nurse’s office because of the fumes they inhaled while coloring in their teeth with Magic Marker in solidarity.

Chris Cilizza describes the magic power of Drudge to drive stories:

The second major reason for Drudge’s influence, according to the Fix’s informal poll of Drudge-ologists is his ability to sniff out a potentially big story when others — including reporters — miss it at first glance.

“He can identify what’s a big deal even when the reporters who actually cover and report on an event don’t realize what they have,” said one GOP strategist granted anonymity to speak candidly. “He scoops reporters’ scoops.”

The way that the media seems to think of it is this: Drudge promotes something, they read Drudge’s promotion, look at and realize he’s on to a big story that deserves further coverage.

The way that it actually works: Drudge promotes something, they read Drudge’s promotion, assume that he wouldn’t be following it unless it was a big story, and proceed to flock to it and make it the big story, thereby growing Drudge’s reputation.

The first way allows them to use Drudge as a casus belli for whatever bizarre uproar they decide to toddle after today. It made Drudge, after all, and look at his instincts! The second way, what actually happens, is far more problematic for them, because they’ve all bought into a collective lie that lets them excuse virtually any transgression as long as it passes through his poorly formatted filter. The best part about it is that every time they do it, it gives them more credibility to do it next time.

Marker teeth and all.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
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