imageChris Cillizza of the Washington Post attempts to explain to us why Drudge is so influential.


Actually, what he first explains to us is why the great behatted one is stirring up the volcano on Media Island:

The increase in positive McCain stories featured on Drudge has coincided with more skeptical coverage of Obama's candidacy. In recent weeks, Drudge has featured in his center well spot: A picture of Obama shooting at a far off basketball hoop with a subtitle asking "Will he get his groove back?"; an image of Obama sweating on stage at the Democratic National Convention during the Illinois senator's acceptance speech; and heavy coverage of the "lipstick on a pig" comments.

What explains the change in tone? It's easy to lapse into the tired old logic that Drudge is nothing more than a conservative mouthpiece returning to his roots as election day nears.

But, those who follow the news choices that Drudge makes on a day in and day out basis -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- argue that the shift in focus by Drudge is in keeping with a long time strain of his site: a healthy disdain for the mainstream media and their perceived biases.

Okay, now, here's the problem with Cillizza's argument. It's a subtle distinction - see if you catch it:

(A quick note to preempt the inevitable argument that Drudge's influence is overblown. Tomorrow morning, take a minute to look at the stories Drudge is highlighting. Then, later in the day, watch a few cable channels to see what stories they are talking about. It will open your eyes.)

The argument, summed up:

Drudge dictates what the news media talks about. He then dictates other things based on counteracting the perceived biases of the news media, which don't matter, because they all do what he says anyway. Meaning, in the end, that Drudge counteracts a bias he has to know doesn't exist, because the media simply parrots everything he wrote about earlier in the day.

Matt Drudge is either the world's most media-savvy idiot savant, entirely incapable of connecting the thing he wrote about thirty minutes ago to the news story that he's reading about right now, or Chris Cillizza is so deeply in denial about what Drudge is and what he does that he's looking up at the molten core of Denial Earth. Brendan Fraser says hi.

We then delve into the second part of Cillizza's apologia for Drudge:

Palin -- and the mainstream media's coverage of her -- reminded us of another insight into Drudge: his strongest motivator is driving traffic to his site, not pushing some ideological agenda.

Which, again, I remind you of this:

(A quick note to preempt the inevitable argument that Drudge's influence is overblown. Tomorrow morning, take a minute to look at the stories Drudge is highlighting. Then, later in the day, watch a few cable channels to see what stories they are talking about. It will open your eyes.)

Drudge already gets all the traffic to his site he needs to get, because he's your assignment desk. This argument would, perhaps, make more sense if the way that Drudge drove traffic to his site wasn't by posting news items that continually and consistently hewed to the exact same ideological agenda every single time. So, why is Drudge focusing on Palin, and why is the media following his lead?

Couple Palin's natural appeal on the Web and the hint of media bias and it's easy to see the perfect storm of web traffic brewing and a smart explanation of the flood of more positive coverage for McCain and more negative coverage for Obama on Drudge of late.

Of course, Palin's coverage has dominated the media for weeks and been overwhelmingly positive until very recently...much like Drudge's! Coverage of McCain's campaign has been about its resurgence and Obama's about its struggles...just like Drudge's! It's almost like Drudge has an agenda that the media follows...and he knows it!

But what do I know? I'm not a professional Drudgologist. I never should've dropped out of night school. Damnation!