Even after Mediaite retracted its claim that a link to a news story from The Drudge Report gives a story "credibility," it continued to claim that such a link conveys "significance" and makes the linked story worthy of further discussion. But many of the stories promoted by Drudge are entirely fabricated.
Media Matters has already done the work of demolishing Frances Martel's train wreck article for Mediaite this weekend, in which she forwarded old, evidence-free rumors about an alleged affair between President Obama and a former staffer that the National Enquirer borrowed from unhinged conservative blogger Bob Owens.
As Eric Boehlert detailed, Martel's bosses Colby Hall and Dan Abrams have defended Martel's piece on the grounds that Drudge linked to the Enquirer story, which supposedly made it newsworthy. Martel originally wrote that the Drudge link gave the story "credibility," but that wording was later changed to "significance and impact." Writing in the comments section of Martel's post, Abrams wrote: "when Drudge links to a story suggesting the President of the United States might be having an affair, that is at least a -media- story for a media website."
But this defense misses the point entirely.
Martel's story for Mediaite was not a "media story." It was merely forwarding -- and embellishing -- baseless gossip from the Enquirer. An actual "media story" might have been along the lines of "Matt Drudge Has No Standards and Traffics in Baseless Smears." But that story has been written before (who can forget the "credibility" he gave to the "backwards B" hoax, for example.)
In fact, based on what Martel wrote and tweeted about the story, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Martel wasn't as interested in writing a "media story" as she was in promoting a potentially damaging political scandal.
From The Drudge Report, accessed on April 28:
After President Obama released a video message highlighting 2010 efforts to turn out the vote among minorities, right-wing media responded with inflammatory rhetoric, including claims that Obama is playing the "race card." Those media figures have ignored that Republicans have issued similar appeals to minority voters.
The Bloomberg article to which Drudge links does not contain the photograph Drudge published.
The Drudge Report is hyping a report from a Chicago NBC affiliate that recklessly pushes completely speculative allegations about President Obama based on the disgraced and discredited former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich.
Drudge sees Socialism everywhere--even in the newly unveiled $100 bill. No, really:
"Even Obama's New $100 Bill Looks European." Of course, the Bloomberg article to which Drudge links makes no such claims, but rather reports on the security design of the new bill, which is "aimed at thwarting counterfeiters." The other link Drudge provides goes to Juli Weiner's tongue-in-cheeck Vanity Fair blog post on the new design, in which she asks Drudge, "Is this bill a Communist-style invasion of our civil liberties? A fascist and also very European-seeming prohibition of our Constitutional right to produce and distribute counterfeit currency?" Either Drudge didn't pick up on the sarcasm or he's just revealed to us all that he does have a sense of humor.
For the record, here's what a Euro looks like:
Media conservatives have levied the completely baseless allegation that the White House was "colluding" with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in filing a civil lawsuit accusing Goldman Sachs of fraud in order to create a "villain" to "bolster support for the crackdown on the banks from the White House." The media figures have offered no evidence to support the allegation, which the White House has strongly denied.
From the April 21 Drudge Report:
Following the announcement that the Security and Exchange Commission is investigating the investment firm Goldman Sachs for fraud, an April 19 FoxNews.com article reported that the "White House...strongly denied any involvement in the timing of the high-profile fraud case against Goldman Sachs," after Republicans and their media acolytes suggested the charges were timed to help pass financial reform. Fox News reported that "Republicans also accused the administration of biting the hand that fed it, since Goldman Sachs was President Obama's top Wall Street contributor during the 2008 campaign, with employees donating nearly $1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics," and went on to quote Rep. John Boehner as asking "just whose side is President Obama on?" Pause for reaction. First of all, the SEC is a non-partisan body that is operating independent of the White House. Secondly, the accusation that the President is "biting the hand that fed it" makes absolutely no sense. Wouldn't the real scandal be if Obama interfered with a SEC investigation because the subject of the investigation was a large campaign contributor of his?
After the Security and Exchange Commission accused Goldman Sachs of fraud, numerous right-wing media figures have accused the Obama administration of attempting "to destroy Goldman Sachs" in order to "shift public opinion" in favor of financial reform. Simultaneously, conservative media have also falsely claimed that the financial reform legislation creates a "permanent bailout fund," which is "the payoff" Wall Street "has been waiting for."
As my colleague Kate Conway noted on these pages yesterday, the Washington Times proved yesterday that they will miss no opportunity to attack President Obama, no matter how much of a stretch that attack may be. Today, The Drudge Report has proved the same. Drudge is currently hyping the completely false suggestion that President Obama skipped Polish President Lech Kaczynskis' funeral in favor of playing golf.
Of course, Obama was unable to attend the funeral due to the fact that a cloud of volcanic ash has wrecked havoc on air travel in Europe, a fact which Drudge is clearly aware of if he read his own site. Indeed, his suggestion that Obama "goes golfing instead of attending Kaczynskis' funeral" is directly below this:
Apparently, putting two and two together isn't Drudge's strong suit.
Right-wing media figures and outlets have revived their obsession with President Obama's supposed "bowing" by highlighting a photo of Obama greeting Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Nuclear Security Summit. Conservative media have previously attacked Obama's greetings of Saudi King Abdullah, Japanese Emperor Akihito, and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.
In advance of the April 15 tax deadline, the conservative media have complained that, according to a Tax Policy Center report, 47 percent of households pay no federal income taxes. These complaints come despite the fact that the vast majority of these households pay other taxes.
The Drudge Report is currently blaring the headline, "Obama Man: Raise Taxes, Start European-style VAT," in his signature red, scare font.
However, as per usual with Drudge, the article to which he links--a two-paragraph Reuters blurb on comments White House aide Paul Vockler made at a recent event-- isn't nearly as direct. Reuters reported that "Volcker, answering a question from the audience at a New York Historical Society event, said the value-added tax 'was not as toxic an idea' as it has been in the past." According to Reuters, he expressed an identical sentiment about "a carbon or other energy-related tax." The Reuters article also noted that though "both were still unpopular ideas, Volkler said getting entitlement costs and the U.S. budget deficit under control may require such moves. 'If at the end of the day we need to raise taxes, we should raise taxes,' he said." Notice the caveat: If the only way to get the deficit "under control" is to raise taxes, then we should raise taxes. Drudge sees the article and bam! An Obama adviser declared it is time to "raise taxes" and "start [a] European-style VAT."
But, given Drudge's history of false headlines, we shouldn't be surprised.