Famous for doing the GOP's bidding by launching smear offensives against Democrats (see the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth), Matt Drudge this week became completely unglued over the widening Mark Foley scandal, flailing around trying to help Republicans get back on the offensive.
First Drudge claimed Foley was the victim of underage teenage "beasts" who were "egging the congressman on" with their lurid communications. When that trial balloon went over like a lead zeppelin, Drudge posted a screaming headline about how one now-famous IM exchange was between Foley and an 18 year old page, as if that made everything okay. Strike three came Thursday when Drudge went into high alert "world exclusive" mode (would anybody else really want to claim it?) that "the now famous lurid AOL Instant Message exchanges that led to the resignation of Mark Foley were part of an online prank that by mistake got into the hands of enemy political operatives."
I'm laughing even harder than everyone else because I just got done reading The Way to Win, the brand new conventional wisdom Beltway blueprint to electoral riches by ABC's Mark Halperin and the Washington Post's John Harris. Wildly impressed by Drudge's acumen and--readers are assured--his nearly limitless media power, Halperin and Harris devote an entire chapter to Drudge, toasting his "visionary" "insights" and anointing him "the Walter Cronkite of his era." (ABC News repeated the claim in a report this week, simply cribbing off Halperin's book. How's that for synergy?)
I wonder, given Drudge's car-wreck week, when he had no effect on the news cycle other than to provide comic relief, whether Halperin and Harris would like to have their kinds words back. Then again, Drudge did plug their book....
Read my full take on "The Way to Win" at Media Matters.
UPDATE: Harris in today's Washington Post continues to sing Drudge's praise, while conveniently ignoring the fact the online hitman's made a fool of himself this week. Go read the very odd, page-one piece, which cobbles together portions of The Way to Win with random thoughts on the Foley story. Apparently ABC News and the Post have no reservations about turning over their news operations in order to help market books. I'm sure Halperin and Harris' colleagues have taken note.
UPDATE II: Halperin is also sticking close to Drudge. On NPR today, discussing the Foley scandal, Halperin announced "Matt Drudge is driving this story." [Emphasis added.]