About how his influence has cratered during his campaign cycle? And how, since the Wall Street meltdown began six weeks ago, his brand of shallow, partisan, GOP gotcha attacks have been completely ineffective?
Well, yesterday he went all in on the very hard-to-believe tale from Pittsburgh about the McCain supporter who was mugged and whose assailant carved a "B" in her face after becoming enraged about her GOP loyalties.
It was The Drudge Report that posted blaring headlines about the story, and it was The Drudge Report that tried to push the story into the mainstream media, perhaps in one last attempt to leave its mark on the campaign.
Well, Drudge did leave a mark. Just not the one he wanted.
The Pittsburgh story has now officially been declared a hoax by the police, leaving Drudge right where he was at the beginning of the week; an irrelevant bystander in the campaign season.
Mary Mapes, of CBS' Memogate fame, delights in the demise of the right-wing bloggers' influence this election cycle:
Nothing makes me happier than seeing once swaggering players like Powerline, Free Republic and Little Green Footballs forced onto the sidelines, left to limply watch this campaign pass by like a parade in which they play no meaningful part.
They just don't matter anymore.
And don't forget about Drudge!
And fyi, from Portfolio [emphasis added]:
The Huffington Post drew more than 4.5 million unique visitors in September, making it the most-trafficked stand-alone political website or blog, according to figures just released by ComScore. Huffpo's traffic increased by 474 percent versus September 2007. In comparison, the Drudge Report drew a little over 2 million uniques, up 70 percent year-over-year.
Specifically, NYT editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal recently told students at Columbia's School of Journalism that one of the journalists he admires is the National Review's Byron York. And yes, York is on the starting lineup of conservative's there's-a-liberal-media-bias team.
The other journalist Rosenthal praised was The Atlantic's conservative-leaning economics writer Megan McArdle who earlier this year wrote:
Will the economy decline in 2008?
Paul Krugman is voting for doom. It's worth keeping in mind, however, that Paul Krugman has predicted eight of the last none recessions under the Bush administration.
I think it's obvious we're in a slowdown, and a recession seems likely-ish, but Britain's skirted recession for over a decade now, so I can't be too fatalistic.
Given the history of the past fifteen years, the idea that Matthews could run as a Democrat ought to be deeply astounding...Why is it astounding to think that Matthews could run as a Democrat? No one on cable devoted more effort to the wars against both Clintons and Gore-the wars which sent George Bush to the White House, the wars which produced the war in Iraq.
In its Correction Box today the Washington Post writes:
A photo caption in the Oct. 22 Style section incorrectly referred to Bill O'Reilly as a "right-wing pundit." The Fox News host presents himself as an independent.
We assume that came via pushback from Fox News, which is notorious for hounding news outlets that suggest the channel has a conservative tilt.
Couple things are curious here. First, in the past, Fox News execs have stressed that while its primetime hosts might be opinionated and lean right, its overall news organization plays it straight. That's their argument. So why the rush to claim one of its most opinionated primetime hosts, O'Reilly, doesn't have a conservative tilt?
Second, stressing that O'Reilly "presents himself as an independent" is odd, not only for the obvious reason that he doesn't really. But it's strange because it's not like the Post identified him as a Republican and O'Reilly doesn't want to be associated with a particular party, which would be understandable. The Post identified him as a conservative, as "right-wing," and still O'Reilly objected.
When somebody like Bill O'Reilly doesn't even want to be associated with the conservative movement, you know it's in trouble. Who's next, Sean Hannity?
The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder writes:
Military ballots are being tossed in Fairfax Co, VA because of a "technicality." Not a lot of them compared to the size of the electorate, but more than a few.
Democrats insist they're biased towards access... so will they try to intervene on behalf of these voters?
Of course, another way to look at it would be: "Republicans insist they're biased towards the rule of law ... so will they support the rejection of these ballots?"
But Ambinder didn't raise that question.
It probably doesn't surprise anyone to see either party take whichever position on "technicalities" they think will help them win. After all, they're trying to win. But what is Marc Ambinder trying to do in suggesting only the Democrats are guilty of such inconsistency?
Wolf Blitzer, against his better judgment, was quoting right-wing radio talker Hugh Hewitt at length during "The Situation Room" today about how McCain could still win the election if he stressed the topic of abortion during the final days of the campaign.
Blitzer asked GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, was Hugh Hewitt being realistic?
Lots of folks are talking about the broad, new Project for Excellence in Journalism study about the fall's campaign coverage that concludes coverage of John McCain had been decidedly more negative than the Barack Obama coverage in the last six weeks.
According to the study of mainstream media, 57% of print and broadcast stories about the GOP nominee were negative, compared to 14 that were positive.
As Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post notes, that imbalance likely reflects the fact that McCain's campaign has suffered drastically this fall, falling behind by double digits in some major polls. In other words, when a campaign craters, the corresponding coverage is not going to be pretty.
"Winning in politics begets winning coverage," the study concluded. Makes sense, right?
Than how do we explain this additional conclusion from the study: "McCain's numbers are almost identical to what we saw eight years ago for Democrat Al Gore." [Emphasis added.]
Somebody alert Bob Somerby, because this is just amazing. John's McCain campaign has, according to the polls and even conservative pundits, been going through a slow-motion wreck for the last month. (i.e. Free fall?) And yet his press coverage is "almost identical" that of Al Gore in 2000.
It's amazing because what was Gore doing at this point in 2000? He was basically running dead even with George Bush, and in the process of winning virtually every toss-up state come Election Day.
See how that correlation between performance and coverage disappeared for Gore? He was performing just as well as his opponent (and light-years better than McCain today), yet Gore got saddled with kind of coverage usually assigned to the pronounced loser.