Farewell to Matt Drudge

Even he’s been co-opted

by , May 10, 2017

I’ve always been a big Matt Drudge fan. That’s because I was there at the beginning, when the Drudge Report was just another web site and the Legacy Media was still the main focus of the journalism business. I remember when he was an habitué of Freerepublic.com, one of the earliest gathering places for all sorts of dissidents in the Age of Clinton. I remember how his breaking of the Monica Lewinsky story propelled him into the spotlight, and I distinctly recall the vicious attacks on him by the “mainstream” media, which resented the by-his-bootstraps way he achieved what is essentially a hegemonic position in the journalistic universe. I particularly appreciated his famous 1998 speech at the National Press Club, in which the notoriously reclusive Drudge delivered a manifesto that all us bootstrappers cheered and took to heart:

“We have entered an era vibrating with the din of small voices. Every citizen can be a reporter, can take on the powers that be. The difference between the Internet, television and radio, magazines, newspapers is the two-way communication. The Net gives as much voice to a 13-year-old computer geek like me as to a CEO or speaker of the House. We all become equal. And you would be amazed what the ordinary guy knows.

“From a little corner in my Hollywood apartment, in the company of nothing more than my 486 computer and my six – six-toed cat, I have consistently been able to break big stories, thanks to this network of ordinary guys.”

Drudge broke the monopoly of the Legacy Media, and he did it in a spectacular way. If the inventors of the Internet are the equivalent of Gutenberg, then Drudge was a modern day Peter Zenger – whom he alludes to in his speech. He took on the naysayers, the kind who resist any innovation because they think it threatens their perks and privileges. Drudge pointed out that the movie moguls and the radio networks tried to get the government to suppress television when it came out, but something else happened instead:

“No, television saved the movies. The Internet is going to save the news business. I – I envision a – a future where there’ll be 300 million reporters, where anyone from anywhere can report for any reason. It’s freedom of – freedom of participation, absolutely realized.”

The naysayers are eternal, however: they just keep popping up. One of them was – is – Hillary Clinton, who just missed becoming President of these United States. She was an early naysayer when it came to the Internet, in part, perhaps, because Drudge broke the Lewinsky story, but on a deeper level because she’s a control freak, as are all too many “progressives,” who aren’t really progressive in any meaningful sense of the term. And Drudge called her out:

“The First Lady of the United States recently addressed concerns about Internet during a Cyberspatial Millennium Project press conference just weeks after Lewinsky broke. She said,

“’We’re all going to have to rethink how we deal with the Internet. As exciting as these new developments are, there are a number of serious issues without any kind of editing function or gatekeeping function.’

“I wonder who she was referring to.

“Mrs. Clinton continued,

“’Any time an individual leaps so far ahead of that balance and throws a system, whatever it might be – political, economic, technological – out of balance, you’ve got a problem. It can lead to all kinds of bad outcomes which we have seen historically.”

“Would she have said the same thing about Ben Franklin or Thomas Edison or Henry Ford or Einstein? They all leapt so far ahead out that they shook the balance. No, I say to these people, faster, not slower. Create. Let your mind flow. Let the imagination take over. And if technology has finally caught up with individual liberty, why would anyone who loves freedom want to rethink that?”

As I pointed out in my last column, there is a major campaign afoot to stifle the freedom that Drudge celebrated. That’s what this whole campaign against “fake news” – and the hysteria over alleged Russian attempts to “influence” our politics – is all about. Under the rubric of fighting “foreign” influences, and in the name of “national security,” the Clintonian “liberals” are pressuring their corporate and governmental allies to regulate the Internet. And the political momentum to narrow the range of acceptable opinion is tremendous – which even Matt Drudge is susceptible to.

Yes, I’ve always been a big Drudge fan, which is why I was so thrilled to see him give Antiwar.com a permanent link, right between Adweek and The Atlantic – except, as it turned out, it wasn’t permanent.

About a week before President Trump bombed Syria, the Antiwar.com link on the Drudge Report disappeared.

What a coincidence!

As a conservative columnist who was a prominent supporter of Trump put it to me: “I didn’t know Jared Kushner was running the Drudge Report!”

Drudge has been pushing Trump from the beginning, which is his right. I reported favorably on many of Trump’s earlier foreign policy pronouncements, which is probably why Drudge added us to begin with: it’s too bad President Trump walked back the best aspects of his foreign policy agenda. Yet Drudge, and some – not all – of Trump’s supporters don’t seem to care about the President’s policy reversals: they’re just defending whatever he does. And that, I believe, accounts for the deletion of Antiwar.com from the Drudge Report: forget about the news you can’t get anywhere else that is published on this site. Never mind our large audience, which spans the globe. And who cares about our unique perspective? If it doesn’t fit into the Trumpian agenda – whatever that may be at any particular moment – then Matt has no use for us.

So be it.

This isn’t the first time one of my plaster gods turned out to be a disappointment, and it likely won’t be the last. We’re all of us susceptible to partisan prejudices, and we all have our little agendas, although I have to say I expected more from Drudge. I can’t even begin to describe the sinking feeling as I logged on to the Drudge Report, looked for the Antiwar.com link, and saw that it wasn’t there. For me, that link represented the only kind of legitimacy I had ever sought: recognition from one rebel to another that Antiwar.com had accomplished something real.

But I take it from where it comes: all too often, yesterday’s rebel is today’s Establishment shill. That’s just the way it is, and always will be.

What all this this highlights is the role of Antiwar.com in the Age of Trump. I think of it in terms of walking a tightrope: the idea is to keep from falling off while balancing the rhetoric and the reality.

Trump was initially a severe critic of our interventionist foreign policy: who can forget his accusation  that George W. Bush lied us into the Iraq war? His critique of NATO, his willingness to reach out to Russia – these stances attracted millions to his candidacy, and arguably put him over the top in a very close race. Now that he’s President, however, the War Party has moved into the White House: Trump is surrounded by “advisors” who spout the same old interventionist pieties, and represent the same vested interests that candidate Trump once vowed to defeat. He was going to “drain the swamp” – but instead of that, he ‘s jumped right into it.

I know we have many new readers and supporters who came to this web site during the campaign precisely because we were open to Trump as a critic of US foreign policy: after all, we were pushing an “America first” foreign policy many years before Trump decided  to run. A great many of these new readers are sorely disappointed in their candidate: unlike Drudge, and other hand-raisers, they aren’t giving their candidate a blank check now that he’s won the prize.

We welcome these new readers and ask them to become supporters. And to my longtime readers, I want to say this: Antiwar.com has never been more necessary. It’s never been this important to offer an antidote to the daily poison served up by our warmongering media. Now that ostensible “liberals” have decided, for largely partisan reasons, that what we need is a new cold war with Russia, the danger of a major war – a war that could wipe out a good portion of humanity – is imminent.

We can’t let that happen.

As I write, we’re on Day Two of Antiwar.com’s spring fundraising drive, and I have to say I’m none too thrilled by the results so far. We’ve been around for over twenty years only because our readers have risen to the occasion, whenever they’ve been asked, and come forward with the financial support we need to continue our work. And that work has never been more essential than it is today.

So let Drudge delete us from his list of news links: let the “mainstream” media either ignore or else smear those of us in the alternative media who don’t toe the party line. There’s nothing we can do about that. All we can do is persevere – but we can’t do that without your support.

Even as I write, war clouds are gathering on the horizon: the Korean peninsula, Europe, Syria, Yemen, Somalia. More troops may soon be on their way to Afghanistan: yes, after sixteen years of war, the longest conflict in our history, we still haven’t learned our lesson.

But hope springs eternal: the American people are sick of perpetual war. They’re waking up to the scam that is the “mainstream” media. They want to live in peace. Our job is to educate them, to enable them, to activate them, and to restore the founding principles of this republic. The Founding Fathers warned us against militarism, against “entangling alliances,” and against the temptations of Empire, and their spirit lives on in the American people. We can win because we must win. That’s why I’m asking you to go directly to this link and make your tax-deductible contribution now.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

Read more by Justin Raimondo