- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2008

The Drudge Age

“On Jan. 26, 1998, President Bill Clinton wagged his finger and told a press conference: ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.’

“Thus began one of the most entertaining years in American politics.

“The lasting effect is what the scandal … did to the American press corps.

“Overnight, a then-31-year-old former gift-shop clerk at CBS became the most important man in American journalism.

“His Internet site [DrudgeReport.com] averaged 85,000 unique visitors a day in 1997.

“[Dec. 17], 18.3 million people visited his site. That is more than all the people who watched ABC, CBS and NBC news combined that night. …

“A story linked by Drudge Report can send so many visitors to a site that its computer server cannot handle the traffic.

“Now here is the test for readers as they read … rehashes of the Lewinsky scandal: Does the newspaper or columnist view the emergence of Drudge and the Internet as a good thing or bad?

“The whiners will complain that no one controls the Internet and that a lot of the information is inaccurate.

“Yes. And people soon learn which sites to trust. As bloggers point out, Jayson Blair worked for the New York Times, not Lucianne .com.”

Don Surber, writing on “Monica turned journalism inside out,” Dec. 22 in the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail

Immigration wedge

“American conservatives are in somewhat better shape than the British Tories. They have not lost their ideological fertility and many of them were always ambivalent about the Bush administration. They disliked his over-spending, his attachment to promiscuous government (‘compassionate conservatism’), the educational reform he co-authored with Teddy Kennedy, his support for racial quotas and preferences, his creation of a new drug entitlement, and much else. It was the immigration reform bills in 2006 and 2007, however, that finally separated them from the president. …

“The immigration debate was an education for our leaders and the media — they learnt that, once the issues are clearly outlined by debate, the people are open to such conservative ideas as the rule of law, the importance of borders, the distinctiveness of America, and the right of Americans to decide who should enter the country and on what terms.”

John O’Sullivan, writing on “The conservatism of the future,” in the January issue of the New Criterion

Dead armadillos

“Texas populist maverick Jim Hightower gets it just right when he describes centrism in American politics. There’s nothing in the middle of the road, he quips, except some yellow stripes and dead armadillos. But that’s not what the pundits and commentators who long for the bipartisan days of yore — and flock eagerly to any politician who looks ‘centrist’ — believe. That’s why we’re about to see lots of fawning coverage of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to form a ‘government of national unity.’ …

“The nation, he argues, needs a ‘government of national unity’ to overcome its partisan divisions.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel, writing on “Bloomberg’s Bipartisan Gamble,” Sunday at TheNation.com

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