The right sees an Obama Olympic conspiracy

Led by Matt Drudge, conservatives see an attempt to shut down media coverage that might hurt the president


Alex Koppelman
September 28, 2009 7:46PM (UTC)

President Obama is going to Denmark this week to lobby on behalf of his adopted hometown's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. That means Chicago's effort has become a target for the president's opponents, including Drudge Report editor Matt Drudge.

As of this post, Drudge's site is currently leading with one of his occasional exclusives. This one features a banner headine screaming, "Fox-TV Chicago ordered not to run anti-Olympics story."

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"A local TV station that reported on Chicagoans NOT wanting the Olympics has been told NOT to run the report again, insiders tell the DRUDGE REPORT!," Drudge says. "The Chicago Olympic Committee told FOX Chicago that its broadcast 'would harm Chicago's chances' to be awarded the games. The station's news director ordered staff to hold fire after the report aired once last Thursday morning, claims a source."

A report like this, exclusive or not, wouldn't normally merit prime placement on Drudge's site. But with Obama's involvement, it becomes a banner headline, because the newsman's implication is clear: The media's being told to back off from a story that could hurt the president, and because the press is in the White House's pocket, they're complying. Conservative bloggers are, of course, picking up the story and running with it in that direction.

In truth, of course, the real story's almost certainly much simpler than that. Executives and PR people try to wave reporters off stories all the time if those stories mean bad press. Drudge's report seems to indicate that's what happened here. And if the news director did order his staff not to run a story about anti-Olympic sentiment again, odds are it's because station management can do math -- while normal Chicagoans might hate the idea of hosting the Olympics, it'll turn out to be a financial windfall for local television. And in the interim, powerful advertisers are probably backing the city's bid; in this economy, the station won't want to risk losing that business.

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Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman


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