Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Drudge factor

Drudge may be the most influential media figure today. He is read with devotion by political operatives, news editors, television producers, beat reporters and government leaders. Some in Congress even try to prevent their staff from reading Drudge. Fat chance!

The hand of Drudge heavily influences what is read in the papers, viewed on television and debated in national politics. Where is the liberal Drudge? With Democrats controlling so much of the information flow from the White House and Congress, why does a conservative have a monopoly on “the Drudge factor” while liberal Democrats are reduced to reading Drudge, reacting to Drudge and dishing dirt against their opponents to Drudge? Why does Fox News have a huge ratings advantage over MSNBC, even after sweeping tides for Democrats in 2006 and 2008?

Why is conservative radio light-years ahead of liberal radio in audience share, with the hapless Air America a perpetual bankrupt? Some liberal hosts have built significant audiences. There is discrimination by corporate radio in some markets. But I won’t push the liberal Fairness Doctrine issue, because it is a cop-out that will not affect the larger liberal media failure.

Beginning with Ronald Reagan in the 1970s, conservatives found large media investors with a movement commitment to issues and marketing savvy that turned masses of movement voters into mass audiences for television, radio and publishing.

Conservative media became a voice for a movement. The movement became a fungible audience swirling from radio to television to books. Drudge, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Andrew Breitbart and others are not a voice for Republicans. They are a megaphone for conservatives.