What month is it... July? It's been weeks since someone wrote a story about how Matt Drudge is the King of All Information! Thanks, Washington Post political blogger Chris Cillizza, for stepping up to the plate. The populace must be periodically reminded that all the news they receive comes from a reclusive weather-obsessed weirdo in Florida, lest they get uppity. So this week The Original Blogger is responsible for that Jesse Jackson "cut Obama's nuts off" story that the kids are so into. Because yesterday evening he, uh... hyped the fact that it would be appearing on Fox later that night, after Sean Hannity announced it on the radio hours earlier and as Jackson himself released his apology to the wires. Follow? Matt Drudge is responsible for this story that was already everywhere by the time he picked it up. Of course, we're just being cynical—he's still ridiculously over-influential! But WHY?
First and foremost, is the depth — and the quality — of Drudge's readership. Drudge's number of unique visitors is regularly touted but what is more important, in terms of his ability to drives news cycles, is that every reporter and editor who covers politics is checking the site multiple times a day.
Phil Singer, former deputy communications director for Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign and now a Democratic consultant, called Drudge's "elite readership" a key to his influence. Singer added that a walk through any press filing center at a debate reveals every other laptop, at least, has Drudge's website up on its screen.
In other words, Drudge is still massively influential because all the reporters and editors who cal him influential still assume he's influential, so they refresh him every 20 seconds. See how that works? That's called "gatekeeping."
The funny thing is that if all of these people magically decided to switch their homepages to, say, the Huffington Post or Yahoo News (or maybe just a well-curated RSS feed!) tomorrow, the tenor of your "news" would change immeasurably but you would not be any less informed!
But everyone appointed Matt our "national political assignment editor" (to quote GOP op Kevin Madden) back in 1996 or something and they're all too lazy to find a different website. Even though Matt has definitely fallen off of late! He barely touched Reverend Wright at all, for instance, and that certainly didn't stop that story from dominating for two weeks.
Still, we love and admire the man, because nobody does anything like this better:
See, the stock market is collapsing. So here is a bear eating a fruit salad.