Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Smearing Matt Drudge

When Matt Drudge reported that CNN reporter Michael Ware heckled Senator John McCain at his press conference after taking a leisurely, uneventful stroll in the streets of Baghdad, a number of blogs and even newspapers picked up the story. But now some people are backing off the report, leaving the damaging impression that Drudge just made it up. Even if it turns out that Drudge was right, no matter how many corrections are run it will still be impossible for Drudge to completely regain his reputation. I think it's incredibly irresponsible to let this smear against Matt Drudge fester before all the evidence is in. No one has unequivocally disproved Drudge's story and to imply otherwise is unfair to Drudge.

When Drudge ran his story about Ware (which seems to have disappeared from his server for some reason but can be seen in the picture above), there didn't seem to be any reason to doubt it. Drudge based his story on a very reliable anonymous source whose credentials no one had questioned and who didn't appear to have an axe to grind. "An official at the press conference called Ware's conduct 'outrageous,' saying, 'here you have two United States Senators in Bagdad giving first-hand reports while Ware is laughing and mocking their comments. I've never witnessed such disrespect. This guy is an activist not a reporter,'" Drudge wrote.

And the story certainly sounded true. Ware was the reporter who said, "I don't know what part of Neverland Senator McCain is talking about" when McCain said there were many safe neighborhoods in Iraq, and Drudge's report, based on an impeccable anonymous source, seemed to confirm the impression many people already had that Ware's reporting was biased. "Ah, professionalism," commented Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit about Ware's biased, unsourced reporting. "Maybe it is time for CNN to find a reporter that can function sober," Lorie Bird at Wizbang wrote. "Maybe Ware was drunk; that would be consistent with his own description of how he spends his time in Baghdad," John Hinderaker at Powerline said charitably. "But he is an extreme manifestation of an all too common phenomenon--the journalist as advocate rather than neutral observer." Blackfive commented, "I don't have any evidence that Michael Ware was ever hinged, but he is certainly Unhinged now," adding that Ware has spent "four years lying drunk under his bed in his Green Zone." Rodger Morrow called Ware "a useful idiot" and Ace of Spades, writing from his parents' basement, said that Ware has "trouble seeing" that the surge is working "from the lounge at the Intercontinental Hotel."

Then the left-wing smear machine kicked in. Ware unsurprisingly denied that he had heckled anyone. Inconclusive video seemed to show that Ware was silent throughout the press conference, which abruptly ended when Ware raised his hand to ask a question. Of course, it's very possible that Ware heckled McCain very quietly when the camera wasn't on him and everyone knows from the Rodney King case that videos can give false impressions. As Say Anything points out the video doesn't prove Ware didn't heckle McCain beyond a reasonable doubt and the burden of proof is on Ware to show that Drudge's anonymous, unimpeached source was lying.

Some liberals even claimed Drudge's anonymous source had an agenda even though no one could know for sure whether he had an agenda or not since no one knew who the source was! Many attacked the messenger, claiming that Drudge had gotten so many stories wrong before, ignoring the fact that the vast majority of his stories have turned out to be true.

Although Paul Meringoff at Powerline bravely said that Ware's denial was itself "enough to condemn him as unfit to cover the war," other conservative bloggers began to cut and run from Drudge caving in to fierce left-wing pressure. Some of those who originally reported story appended one-sentence updates all the way down at the ends of their pieces casting doubt on the story and Matt Drudge's reporting. They gave the false impression that Ware's denials were somehow equivalent to Drudge's impeccably researched article based on an unassailable anonymous source, reducing the story to a he said/she said argument.

Although Hinderaker at Powerline stuck to his guns about Ware being a drunk, he said, "Drudge owes his readers an explanation regarding his stance on the story," leaving the unfortunate impression that he was beginning to doubt the veracity of Drudge's reporting. Hot Air said the video "sort of" supports Ware, but pointed out it came from a Michael Ware fan site. Still, they pointedly refused to defend Drudge. Jules Crittenden said that even if this particular story was not true that doesn't mean the press isn't "pro-Al Qaeda" and reiterated that Ware is a "consort of terrorists," but unconscionably left Drudge out to dry. Lorie Bird at Wizbang also left the impression that Drudge's story was not technically true even though Ware is still a drunk. Rick Moran wrote, "One would have to say at this point that [Ware] is telling the truth - at least the truth as he perceives it to be," and added, "Perhaps he was drunk at the press conference," yet not only did he refuse to defend Drudge, he doesn't even mention Drudge at all in the post. (Correction: In the comments Mr. Moran points out this sentence in his post, which I somehow missed, although it just serves to confirm my main point about the unfair smearing of Drudge: "So it appears that Drudge doesn’t know what the word [heckling] means -- not surprising since it isn’t the first time his headlines have failed to jive with the story being reported." My apologies to Mr. Moran for the error.)

Reynolds appended an update to his original post that seemed to criticize Drudge and at the same time reduce his own responsibility for leaving any false impressions no matter how the story eventually turns out: "Looks like Drudge got burned, as, to a lesser degree, did those of us who relied on him." Then Reynolds went even further, writing a rather defensive post claiming that he doesn't "promise never to link to things that turn out not to be wrong," trying to wash his hands of all responsibility for casting doubt on Matt Drudge's reputation in case Drudge is vindicated. "I can't find where Drudge has retracted, but on this evidence I'm going with Ware over Drudge," was his weak conclusion. Don Surber also agreed that he was now going to believe Ware over Drudge, based apparently on the flip of a coin: "I'm going with Ware over Drudge. Them's the odds -- great editor, lousy reporter." Is that what the reputation of a fine reporter like Drudge hinges on--the odds?

It should be obvious that the people attacking Drudge are biased. And even if it turns out that Drudge made a mistake on this one story, is it fair to cast doubt on all the good reporting he has done and trash his reputation? Once a reputation is damaged, it can never be fully repaired. Some people will now always believe that Matt Drudge is a liar no matter how many times conservative bloggers unquestioningly link to him in the future. These bloggers should be embarrassed that they are perpetuating these smears of Drudge even as they cast doubt on Ware's veracity. They act as if they have no responsibility for smearing Drudge's good name, claiming that they are merely linking to stories attacking Drudge or posing questions as if they can't be bothered to do some cursory research on the answers to those questions or at least apply a smell test to allegations before they publish them. If these bloggers who are now sowing the seeds of doubt about Drudge's reporting abilities are not responsible for smearing him, then who is?

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Anonymous said...

"Rick Moran wrote, "One would have to say at this point that [Ware] is telling the truth - at least the truth as he perceives it to be," and added, "Perhaps he was drunk at the press conference," yet not only did he refuse to defend Drudge, he doesn't even mention Drudge at all in the post."


From my post linked above:

"If he had shouted out from the audience and interrupted the press conference, that would have been considered “heckling.” So it appears that Drudge doesn’t know what the word means – not surprising since it isn’t the first time his headlines have failed to jive with the story being reported."

I don't mind the snark. But the towering ignorance displayed by you and others who make it so painfully obvious that you failed to read and digest what I have written - preferring instead your own knee jerk reactions to anything you disagree with - is illustrative of an intellectual laziness that is almost beyond belief.

Ron Beasley said...

You are at your snarky best with this one Jon, good job.

darrelplant said...

"Failed to jive"?

What depths of language conservatives have fallen to under the Bush presidencies. Once the home of the proudly polysyllabalic William Buckley, now the leader of their cause sounds like a sixth-grade class cutup who gets called on to deliver a book report he hasn't prepared for. And his supporters follow him down the hole. They're freaking out about bilingual education degrading the national language and they don't even know their own single language. Doomed, I tell ya!

It's "jibe", Moran. Jibe. As in "the smear story Drudge tried to present failed to jibe with reality." I know the "v" and "b" keys are right next to each other, but they are, in fact, different keys. "Jibe" (as an verb) means to agree with. "Jive" (as a verb) means to play with. Different words, different meanings.

Anonymous said...

it was disproven, with video to prove it, dummy

OutOfContext said...

Jon Swift, to quote Anthony Quinn in Lawrence of Arabia, "you are a river to your people." I have never read Mr. Moran's blog, but I went over there as a result and was very pleased at what I saw. I very much enjoyed his summary and analysis of the latest episode of 24. I have never seen the show, but now I feel I have seen every episode in real time. I particularly like this quote: "Jack needs the hacksaw so that he can cut off the snitch’s head and deliver it to the crime ring boss, once more proving that Jack will do anything to get the job done and protect the country." Now, I've read that and I think I've digested it and it filled my stomach with the righteous satisfaction of kick ass!!!

I can see why he's a little angry at you for missing part of his argument, but at least he finished with a compliment--you are beyond belief!

Kel said...

Hysterical as always, Jon. I love the guilty until proven innocent theme displayed by some of the nutbags.

Anonymous said...

There is no proof that Ware heckled McCain. So are we to assume that Ware did heckle McCain? With logic like this, no wonder people are running away from the GOP.


liquiddaddy said...

Mr. Jon,

How could anybody doubt Mr. Drudge's veracity. He wears a fedora! With a press pass! Hello?

They hate him so much. I remember when Matt was smeared as a self-loathing closeted homosexual! I'm sure glad that got cleared up.

This affair concerning members of the press heckling brave patriots like Sen. McCain should be immediately nipped in the bud. Could you imagine if reporters started laughing at President Bush derisively? As if he were some kind of preposterous ass-clown?

Also, having never read this Reynolds fellow I wonder. Does he always write like a 6th grader?


Tom Hilton said...

Well said, Mr. Swift. I am more optimistic than you, however; I believe that this smear campaign will not damage Drudge's credibility, and that when his heroic reporting uncovers scoops about (say) Hillary's lesbian affairs or Barack Obama's membership in Hezbollah, they will receive the kind of unquestioning acceptance from conservatives that they deserve.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about Rick! He's doing just fine with his family of Morans...

And as for you, Jon, I'm silently heckling you right now! So there!

jurassicpork said...

After the way he'd smeared McCain last week, just Ware's very physical presence qualified as a heckle. I mean, if McCain can freely walk the streets of Baghdad with a mere 100 soldiers surrounding him, and being guarded by snipers, attack helicopters, armored Humvees and Gen. Petraeus's tough guy look and Bush-bolsterd credibility, then, by God, that qualifies as a safe stroll. As for the six soldiers who were killed just a mile away during McCain's and Graham's rug safari, it's their fault for not having a company of men to flank them.

And damn those Iraqis for disagreeing with the Senator. McCain's been there for, what, a dozen brief times? They've been living in Bagdad all their lives. You lose your objectivity, after a while.

So Hooray for Matt Drudge, the organic hatrack, and Hooray for drudgery everywhere!

jurassicpork said...

Btw, Jonny, are you aware that good ole Jules linked to you? I'm kind of amazed that he seems to have taken your side on this, considering how moderate a conservative he is.

Indeed, he wasn't about to let Ware get away, as he astutely pointed out that, while Drudge got it completely wrong and probably used April Fool's day to its fullest potential, Ware saved his nasty comments for when McCain wasn't there to defend his Neverland assertions.

So, you see, Ware is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. If he heckles the Senator to his face, he's wrong. If he waits until after the Senator leaves to make his snide remarks, he's a coward and still wrong.

Proof positive that liberals will always, always, lose (except last November).

Go thou to Jules and be thou edified and awestricken.

Anonymous said...

Good Ole Jules probably thinks that Jon is serious. He ain't too bright. As for Rick MorOn, he was probably just recovering from a drinking binge.

Rodger Morrow said...

I was wrong about Mick Ware being a heckler. But I stand by my earlier assertion that he's a useful idiot

Anonymous said...

A former ambassador has disputed the claim that Ware sought large quantities of heckling in Africa. But as the hunt continues, intelligence pundits now say Ware may have secretly moved his stockpiles of heckling across the border into Syria. And while Pundit administration officials admit that the failure to find any heckling is embarrassing, they insist that even if the intelligence proves wrong, Ware was simply waiting for the inspectors to leave and planned to reconstitute his heckling programs. Meanwhile, Vice-pundit Rodger the Dodger, said there was direct evidence linking Ware to 7-Eleven. And Dodger insisted that Ware's discouraging truthism was a threat to democracy.

interrupted said...

Roger Morrow, for crying out loud, do a little research before you embarrass yourself again. Michael Ware supports the conservative vision for the war. The reason he's being attacked is because he won't propagate NeoCon fantasy when he reports the situation on the ground. Read his actual remarks (instead of the spoon-fed propaganda you're currently regurgitating):

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what I can tell you from the outset, Suzanne, is that, say, for example, by some bizarre political miracle, Congress was able to impose a real time line, a real deadline on the U.S. presence here or on the funding for the war here. Now that absolutely would play completely into the hands of America's identified enemies, al Qaeda in Iran. That would be handing the entire advantage to them. That's why that can never really happen.

But in terms of the broader debate, in terms of, you know, taking the temperature of the American mood, of the American public, adhering to what's going on in Congress, looking at the Congressional elections, absolutely do the insurgents, do al Qaeda and does Iran and its proxy organizations in Iraq pay attention?

Yes, for sure. I mean they know that the most certain way to strike at their enemy is to strike at his support back home. And, indeed, they monitor these things. They know that, you know, what's happening in D.C. doesn't really relate to the ground. This is just political artifice.

Nonetheless, it does tell them about the pressure points to apply. And we saw from 2003 the Baathist insurgents saying from the beginning this war will not be won on the battlefield, it will be won on that -- pointing to a TV screen.

That's where this war will be won -- Suzanne.

click here for more (if you've got the cojones to step outside your limbaugh-approved talking points)

Anonymous said...

Rick Moran accusing Jon Swift of "towering ignorance" is like someone from the band Ratt accusing Bob Dylan of not knowing how to write a good song.

Anonymous said...

Matt Drudge is a friend of mine and Matt Drudge loved the article, but Matt Drudge did have one nit to pick that would have made the story about Matt Drudge even more compelling. And that nit has to do with how many sentences were committed to print that did not mention Matt Drudge by name. Matt Drudge estimated nearly half did not clearly identify Matt Drudge by name. I have assured Matt Drudge that his concerns will be relayed to you and that Matt Drudge will not have to suffer this sort of shabby treatment in the future. Matt Drudge enjoyed the article and looks forward to a more balanced treatment in your next installment.

Anonymous said...

Smearing Drudge, with - Peanut butter? Dippity-do? Saliva? Words are just so confusilating and open to misintrepidation...

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

Speaking of misintrepidation, I completely missed the retracted post of April 1. It must have been really something.

Anonymous said...

Another in a long series of rapier thrusts!

Unknown said...

That Matt Drudge accusation was discredited, which is your explanation of why you can't find the report on the Web anymore. Hard for me to take anyone serious who thinks Matt Drudge can do no wrong. Maybe Machael Ware was laughing during McCain's highly fortified propaganda stroll, hard to say. What I find hard to believe about the accusation of Michael Ware laughing is that he couldn't have been the only one laughing at McCain's ridiculous attempt to paint Baghdad as a peaceful walk in the park. That's just good comedy.

Anonymous said...


You missed the April 1st post? I just assumed you were the one threatening to bring charges. I mean, gosh, the things he had to say about you.

I guess it's just as well you missed it...the scars may never have healed.

Anonymous said...

McCain is capable of self destruct without help but I think heckling should be encouraged.

Sam Jasper said...

As always, Jon, fabulous. This truly is one of your best. One line stuck out to me though:

"Looks like Drudge got burned, as, to a lesser degree, did those of us who relied on him."

I can only say, if they rely on MATT DRUDGE (note the full use of his name) then they must be drunk, for four years, under their beds, in the twilight zone.

Thanks for the great post.

Anonymous said...

Ahh...yes. When things aren't going right - when the wheels start falling off- who do they pick on? THE DRUNKS, THAT'S WHO!! It's getting so you can't even loll in the corner with a big pee-stain on the front of your corduroys anymore, without attracting the attention of some self-righteous prick who impugns the quality of your reporting just because your hair is crusted with vomit. Everyone knows alcoholics stand out like a cockroach on a wedding cake in a Muslim country - doesn't Ware have enough problems already without calling attention to them? Besides, it's John McCain's fault anyway - what kind of retard gives a press conference without first positioning a goon squad outside to weed out everyone who might speak their mind? Last, but by no means least, the PRESIDENT is an alcoholic!! Grab a six-pack of sensitivity, will you? Do you think he wants to be reminded about all the times he woke up with his underwear on his head and his hand duct-taped to his crank?

Robert Green said...

something something blah blah MATT DRUDGE. blah blah MATT DRUDGE blahdy blah.

"he rules our world"

M. Halperin, useful idiot

Anonymous said...

Generally speaking, when an accusation is made, the burden of proof is on the abuser. If you're going to make a claim, you have to be able to substantiate that claim.

If Drudge is going to accuse ANYONE of heckling, he needs to back it up with some evidence.

Anonymous said...

abuser = accuser, obv. whoops!

Anonymous said...

I want to smear something all over drudge's face, if you know what I mean...

Daily drudgers, drudge on: drudgetracker.com

Anonymous said...

How, exactly, can you describe someone as "a very reliable anonymous source whose credentials no one had questioned and who didn't appear to have an axe to grind" and then go on to term the source as "unassailable" and "unimpeached"?

How would one go about testing the creditibility and reliability of an anonymous source? Or impeaching that source? Wouldn't one need to know who the source was in order to do that? Should we simply take Drudge's word for this? Or Swift's?

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