DRUDGERY: A GOOD THING
January 20, 2003
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the word, but the unreasonable man tries to adapt to the world to him--therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man," -- George Bernard Shaw
Ambrose Bierce once observed, “Politics is the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” I have at times expressed the hope and prayer that journalism has not regressed to the point where it has been reduced to merely reporting selective facts for private advantage.
In January of 1998 I was working as a radio talk show host in San Francisco. KSFO was and is owned and operated by ABC/Disney. Although some may be reluctant to admit it today, I introduced Matt Drudge to San Francisco. I had been using his website as a resource since he first started and despite the cheesy hat, he was consistently a winner. I first started using him as a resource in 1995 when he was getting about 20,000 hits a day.
Critics still attempt to marginalize Drudge for poaching the grunt work and enterprising reportage of others. However, Matt Drudge has single-handedly done more to make the elitists media royalty do their job than anyone else.
Drudge told me, “To report what someone else is doing is work -- especially if it hasn't been published yet. The whole notion that I can get into the newsrooms and cover what people are working on before it's published -- that is some of the hardest work. The hardest evidence is that no one has even come close to anything like that.”
Call him a gadfly, a self-promoter, or weird if you like, but the incontrovertible reality is he HAS changed (for the good) how and what the huddled masses read.
January 1998 I wrote a column ‘Newsweek’s spiking of Clinton Scandal’ http://www.geoffmetcalf.com/200301190959.html, which ran online (and I discussed on KSFO) the Monday after Drudge had broken the story two days earlier.
Immediately I started getting ‘advise’ from friends and colleague in the building and around the country. “Geoff, are you NUTS?” was a common opener. “You can’t write and say stuff like that about the President.” That was Monday.
By Wednesday all those same organizations that were vilifying me and suggesting I had irreparably damaged my career were claiming ownership of THE story.
But it wasn’t NBC’s story, or Geoff Metcalf’s story, or even Michael Isikoff and Newsweek’s story. It had become (and will always be) Matt Drudge’s story.
THE story, the Drudge story, that was overshadowed and still ignored, wasn’t the Bill/Monica scandal. Oh that was the sizzle. But the steak, THE story, was (and is) that Newsweek made a management decision to spike the enterprising (and factual) Isikoff story of the scandal to apparently protect a political and philosophical friendly. http://www.drudgereportArchives.com/data/2003/01/16/
The story was solid when Isikoff filed it. Hell, it eventually resulted in the Impeachment of a President. However, Newsweek (and previous to Drudge, other mainstream institutions) could and would selectively choose what ‘they’ wanted (and didn’t want) the American people to know.
Katherine Graham of the Washington Post said, "Truth and News are not the same thing. ..." and please believe because THAT is true. In 1988 she was speaking to a group of CIA recruits and is reported to have said, "We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know, and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows."
However, the danger of the press deciding “whether to print what it knows” is that the editorial decision has not been mitigated by national security but by personal, professional, and ideological prejudice.
Maybe it’s the inevitability of ‘The Golden Rule”…the guy with the gold makes the rules. Reportedly, David Rockefeller told a 1991 Bilderberg meeting in Baden Baden Germany, “We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years." He went on to explain: "It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years.”
Right wing radical wackoism? Hey, one man’s “discretion” is another man’s duplicity.
John Ruskin said, “Without seeking, truth cannot be known at all. It can neither be declared from pulpits, nor set down in articles, nor in any wise prepared and sold in packages ready for use. Truth must be ground for every man by itself out of it such, with such help as he can get, indeed, but not without stern labor of his own."Despite any warts and blemishes…(and the cheesy hat) the American people and the entire fourth estate owe Matt Drudge. We owe him for doing what others lack the courage, honesty and stones to do. He is far from being the conscience of journalism but he sure contributes to keeping mainstream propagandists nervous (maybe even sometimes honest). And that’s a good thing.
© 2003 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved
Geoff is a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Metcalf has hosted his radio talk show on the ABC/Disney owned and operated KSFO and in worldwide syndication. www.geoffmetcalf.com