Media critics have recently postulated that while Matt Drudge may have once set the media's agenda, his influence has waned and his efforts to inject himself in the media's coverage of the presidential election have largely fallen flat. This election season, Drudge has posted a long series of items that were false on their face or turned out to be false, making the strong case that, if his influence is not in fact waning, it should be.
Joe Scarborough falsely claimed that, during a 2001 radio interview, Sen. Barack Obama said that "the Warren Court was not, quote, 'radical enough.' " In fact, Obama didn't say the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren was not "radical enough." Scarborough also falsely claimed that during the interview Obama said "the Warren Court did not go far enough, that actually one of the great tragedies was there was no redistribution of wealth." In fact, the "traged[y]" Obama identified during the interview was that the civil rights movement relied too much on the courts in its efforts to bring about political and economic justice.
On-screen text on Fox News echoed the Drudge Report in falsely claiming that Sen. Barack Obama said it is a "tragedy" that the Supreme Court has not addressed wealth redistribution. In fact, the "tragedy" Obama identified during the interview was in what he said was the civil rights movement's overreliance on the courts to pursue political and economic justice.
MSNBC's Morning Joe echoed the Drudge Report by displaying the on-screen text "Gallup shock" and selectively citing only one of three findings from an October 13-15 Gallup daily tracking poll of the presidential race -- the one that showed Sen. Barack Obama holding his smallest lead over Sen. John McCain.
The Drudge Report and the National Review's Rich Lowry falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama didn't vote to condemn MoveOn.org's 2007 newspaper advertisement critical of Gen. David Petraeus. In fact, Obama did vote for an amendment by Sen. Barbara Boxer that condemned the ad, as well as other attacks on past and present members of the armed forces, as the USA Today blog post to which the Drudge Report linked points out.
A Drudge Report headline linking to a 60 Minutes interview of Sen. Hillary Clinton read, "Hillary: Obama Not Muslim 'As Far As I Know' ...," falsely suggesting that Clinton characterized the issue of Sen. Barack Obama's religion as unresolved. In fact, she did the opposite.
While discussing the news that Sen. Hillary Clinton had replaced her campaign manager, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer asked Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: "[T]he Drudge Report has a headline that reads, quote, 'Adiós: Clinton's Top Latina Sidelined.' Are you concerned at all about the way Hispanic voters might interpret this shakeup heading into Texas?" Neither the Drudge Report nor MSNBC offered any reason why Solis Doyle's replacement as campaign manager might have anything to do with her being Latina or any reason why Latino voters might react in any way to the staff change.
In a blog post, ABC News' Jake Tapper wrote: "In a long, and interesting speech, [Bill Clinton] characterized what the U.S. and other industrialized nations need to do to combat global warming this way: 'We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.' " But Clinton did not say that is what has to be done to combat global warming.
A January 22 headline on the Drudge Report baselessly suggested that the children's psychiatric unit at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center closed because Sen. Hillary Clinton was "neglecting" New York. The Buffalo News article that the headline linked to contained no mention of Clinton; rather, it reported that hospital officials attributed the closure to problems surrounding the way Medicaid is administered by Niagara County.
In an article about a report from CNN's Out in the Open on Sen. John McCain's recent exchange with a supporter in Hilton Head, South Carolina, The Hill reported that McCain's "campaign laments that CNN portrayed the event as though McCain did not defend [Sen. Hillary] Clinton forcefully enough. The senator, in the short video clip, expressed his respect for the former first lady." But the article did not note that McCain described the question -- "How do we beat the bitch?" -- as "excellent."
Despite the Politico's correction of its claim that Democrats were "Zero for 40" on legislation "limiting President Bush's war policy" -- though the Politico did not acknowledge that it had made a mistake in the corrected article -- several in the media, including the Politico's own Mike Allen, Matt Drudge, and ABC's The Note, highlighted the false statistic without noting that it is inaccurate.
Several media outlets seized on an article in The Atlantic that mentioned that former President Bill and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton gave their family cat, Socks, to Betty Currie -- with one outlet questioning whether Currie's adoption of Socks reveals Hillary Clinton to be "cold and calculating." But these media outlets made no mention of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's reported treatment of his own family pet, Seamus, an Irish setter, whom Romney reportedly placed "in a dog carrier" that was "attached ... to the station wagon's roof rack" during the Romney family's "annual 12-hour family trek from Boston to Ontario."
Several media outlets -- following the lead of Internet gossip Matt Drudge -- have presented Obama's comments on not wearing an American flag pin as a recent decision made by the candidate, and not an explanation of something he chose to do several years ago. CNN, ABC, and Fox News have reported on the "controversy," providing a platform for several conservatives to attack Obama's patriotism. As NBC News' Chuck Todd put it, "this was the media getting a classic case of the Drudges."