Drudge's latest bogus scoop

A week after promising a new scandal, Drudge has nothing -- but at least the media didn't take the bait this time

By Alex Seitz-Wald

Published May 28, 2013 3:12PM (EDT)

Matt Drudge    (AP/Brian K. Diggs)
Matt Drudge (AP/Brian K. Diggs)

A week ago Monday, Drudge Report editor Joseph Curl teased a tantalizing scoop: The scandal-wary White House was about to get hit with another one:




Rumors of an incoming fifth scandal spread across conservative blogs -- "You MUST Read The Tweet By Joseph Curl," Fox Nation commanded -- and was amplified by senior GOP operatives eager to see what "fifth shoe" would drop. But so far, eight days later, nothing. No new scandal.

Matt Drudge got his first big break when he scooped Newsweek on their own story about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, becoming the first outlet to break the news of the affair. But in the current millennium, there have been more overhyped "exclusives" that fail to materialize than real ones.

Take the 2012 campaign, for instance. In October, Drudge promised a bombshell that would "ignite accusations of racism -- in both directions!" It turned out to be a videotape that had already gotten plenty of media attention when it first emerged in 2007.

After that, Drudge and the Daily Caller hyped a late-breaking sex scandal that they said would fundamentally change the campaign. It turned out to be a bogus story about Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez hiring prostitutes in Puerto Rico.

Then there was Drudge's prediction in July that Mitt Romney was about to pick Condoleezza Rice as his vice-presidential nominee. Despite the fact that she had definitively ruled out the possibility for months, every news outlet in the country breathlessly repeated Drudge's "exclusive." Needless to say, Romney did not pick Rice and there's no evidence that she was even seriously considered. (Drudge has a history with bad V.P. picks, as the American Spectator noted: He reported that Barack Obama was going to pick Evan Bayh in 2008; that John Kerry would pick Hillary Clinton in 2004; and that George W. Bush would pick Frank Keating in 2000.)

On election night, Drudge also claimed to scoop exit polling data, which are tightly controlled by the coalition of news networks that conduct them. But Drudge's exit polls changed throughout the night, leading many to question their veracity. This too is a pattern repeated from previous presidential elections, GOP primaries and the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall.

At least with the "fifth shoe" rumor, only conservative media seemed to take the bait.

Perhaps after getting embarrassingly burned by Drudge so many times during the campaign, mainstream outlets are rightly being a bit more circumspect. Or maybe it's just that a vague rumor about "something" isn't salacious enough to run with. If Curl had flushed out the "something," one wonders if the reception would have been different, no matter how sketchy the sourcing or Drudge's record.

Alex Seitz-Wald

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