This article could be done in nine words if I wasn’t so self-centered. However, like a dish of macaroni (I can’t stand the misuse of the word “pasta”), less may be better if you’re watching your weight, but more is always best because it’s so good.
The Drudge Report is important, and here’s the nine words: because he publishes the stories the old media won’t. But that’s only a small part of a much larger story.
Note I said, the “old media,” not the leftist or liberal or mainstream or lamestream or traditional etc. etc. media, just the old media because that’s what it is, old.
There’s a great little movie out there in the rarely seen world called, “The In Crowd.” It’s an eighties flick starring Joe Pantoliano, Donovan Leitch and Jennifer Runyon. It takes place in mid-sixties Philadelphia just as the world is turning on its ears. Music is the harbinger of a social upheaval the likes of which humanity has rarely seen. Pantoliano, in one of his finest performances, plays Perry Parker, a host on one of those local after-school American Bandstand knock-offs. Stuck in a mindset, he publicly laments Dick Clark’s traitorous departure from Philly for LA while secretly hoping he fails so as to follow right in Clark’s footsteps. The music is fantastic, purely American, Motown dance music of the era, nothing better, but it’s old. The change is here ushered in by the British, specifically the Beatles though they are never mentioned, and it’s beginning to affect Perry Parker’s ratings. His director says something like, “the afternoon news gets better ratings,” but Parker, an arrogant, self-centered egotist refuses to change the format of his program. In frustration, the director throws up his hands and says, “You better get with it!” Parker doesn’t. And neither does the old media. They just don’t get it, and they never will because it’s too late. The revolution is upon us.
Enter Matt Drudge and literally thousands like him, me included. It’s not “the news” anymore, anyone can see that. It’s information, and like all information, some of it is good, some of it is bad, some of it is true and some of it is false…and to make matters worse, there are millions of bits of information that fall in-between.
The term, “citizen journalism” is a misnomer as well for several reasons, chief among them that there is no such thing as “journalism” anymore. It is folly and fantasy to call people like Chris Matthews and Sean Hannity journalists. And while on a personal level I have loathing for the former but respect for the values of the latter, to call them “reporters” would be closer to the truth. Then again, anyone who provides information to others is reporting news, ergo, we are all reporters, not just those of us in the blogosphere, but everyone with a cell phone.
“Get with it!” takes on a whole new meaning when one considers there is no such thing as privacy on a public level any longer. Worse or better yet, depending on your motives, the real you is always there and there is no place to hide unless you want to live in a vacuum. Take the infamous statement by Michelle Obama as reported by the Washington Times: “As police and firefighters fold the flag to the sound of marching bagpipers, a skeptical looking Mrs. Obama leans to her husband and appears to say, ‘all this just for a flag.’ She then purses her lips and shakes her head slightly as Mr. Obama nods.”
Then there are those caught-on-tape moments which speak to extremely serious issues, like the character and loyalty of the President of the United States himself when Obama was hot-miked and heard to inform Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility” in reference to giving away our national defense.
Granted, the above are examples of the old media still being useful, but they were mistakes brought to light by the new media, us. If not for us, neither incident would have seen the light of day. The mere fact that any one of us can get hold of not only the wording, but the actuality in a split second without the aid of the old media is in itself a death knell for it.
Drudge is important as a meeting place for the largely unobserved. Take for example a piece in what looks like The Russian Times (it goes by the name rt.com) regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s plans to prepare for civil unrest just prior to the November elections. Drudge links to the story which says DHS will be using drones to spy on us while we vote. He points to another story which while seemingly unconnected to the previous one is uncomfortably coincidental. It’s from the Air Force Times, a source one would consider reliable, and it states, “North Dakota’s Air National Guard this fall will begin operating a practice range for drone aircraft, which will give pilots more practical training than they can get from simulators…”
Where else would you get that kind of information? If not for the new media you wouldn’t know such information existed.
On any one day, Drudge gives its visitors direct access to fifty or so pieces of information, thirty-four old news services, three radio stations, five miscellaneous web sites, e.g. Politico, something called Mike Allen Playbook and links to a plethora of pundits, proselytizers and purveyors of political and public policy pap we may otherwise happily do without, but nonetheless provide us with information we otherwise wouldn’t know is out there. From the 3 AM Girls (?) to someone named Bill Zwecker, a Drudge visitor can fill his or her head with enough presumably salubrious information to keep them informed for at least twenty-four hours.
Like some slaughtered dragon in its death throes, the old media writhes in a pool of its own blood paying at last for the devastation it has wreaked on a public it purposely kept in ignorance and made stupid by distortions, fabrications and outright lies. It would be too easy and inaccurate to feature a diminutive Matt Drudge in a suit of armor and his trademark fedora standing over the beast with sword raised in victory. A truer vision would include an army of us backslapping each other in congratulations for having beaten our enemy while making sure we all know this was one battle in a war.