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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

How To Know When Drudge Is Lying

Matt Drudge, author of the famous Drudge Report, is the blogger who broke the Lewinsky scandal during the Clinton presidency. Drudge's gossip/news site is often ground zero for news leaked to the press by the administration.

The blogosphere has become the de facto test market for media spin; they try it out here before attempting it in the major media outlets. This naturally has made Drudge quite powerful; a powerful, ridiculous tool of the administration feigning objectivity with the best of 'em. Reading the drudge report today is a great way to find out what will be on Fox, MSNBC, and CNN tomorrow.

Here's how you can tell when this pseudo-journalist is full of it:

Pay attention to the sources. When Druge is telling the truth,(a rarity), or feigning objectivity, he links to an actual article. When he's lying or spinning, he omits hyperlinks and instead summarizes in his officious "exclusive reports".

For example, he reported today on the missing stockpiles of weapons:

But tonight, NBCNEWS reported: The 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives were already missing back in April 10, 2003 -- when U.S. troops arrived at the installation south of Baghdad!

An NBCNEWS crew embedded with troops moved in to secure the Al-Qaqaa weapons facility on April 10, 2003, one day after the liberation of Iraq.

According to NBCNEWS, the HMX and RDX explosives were already missing when the American troops arrived.

"The U.S. Army was at the site one day after the liberation and the weapons were already gone," a top Republican blasted from Washington late Monday.

Here's the Druge account

Most of the article is devoted to painting a picture of the Kerry campaign using this report as a cynical campaign strategy. The Drudge Report would like you to think that this is an October Surprise coordinated by Kerry and UNSCOM.

What Drudge omits is that there is substantial proof that the opposite is occurring. NBC and the Bush Administration are teaming up to discredit the UNSCOM officials, including Charles Duelfer.

Consider this from the Washington Post:

In satellite photos of the Qaqaa site taken in November 2003 and shown to The Washington Post on Monday by senior U.N. officials, signs of damage from previous U.S. bombing campaigns and looting were evident. But the facilities that stored HMX and RDX were still largely intact, according to the officials.

Here is the full WP Article:

So the question comes down to credible sources. Drudge's approach to this story reveals the obfuscatory tactic. Summarize, paraphrase, omit crucial facts, quote the administration as if they were authorative rather than political, and above all, avoid hyperlinking so that people don't read the full articles and make up their own minds.

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