As media controversy about the Benghazi attack swirls across official Washington and throughout major media, President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonCongressional Black Caucus expected to meet with Trump soon Why liberals should accept a conservative carbon tax plan Why liberals should accept a conservative carbon tax plan MORE should consider why so many in mainstream media have joined the conservative press in the stampeding herd that now puts them on the defensive.
When former President Clinton faced a similar onslaught led by House Republicans, which was powerfully escalated by Matt Drudge, then-first lady Hillary Clinton warned of “a vast right-wing conspiracy.” She was partly right — what she described was right-wing, and it was vast, but it was not a conspiracy.
Today, Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, the Koch family and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) et. al are highly visible and hardly conspiratorial, while Drudge, the universally visible maestro at the epicenter of the machine that magnifies their message, takes their narrative to a deafening decibel level that no competitor even attempts to match.
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The media herd that dramatically overstates the impact of Benghazi on Hillary Clinton in 2016 forgets that the result of the conservative blitz against Presidents Clinton and Obama was that they were both elected for two terms.
Conservatives and their media treat politics as a movement, with outward-aiming systems of interlocking mutual support and reinforcement of message. Obama and his inner circle treat politics more like a one-candidate personal cult with an insular system of centralized White House control, rather than a broad-based national movement that promotes powerful issues and persuades with compelling narratives.
Organizing for Action is fine, but what is needed, as well, is support for media structures similar to Drudge, state party-building outside of Washington and grassroots movements that transcend any one president at any given moment.
The unprecedented influence of Drudge is that he offers a scandal and message megaphone to conservative media, politicians and ideas that drive the national narrative that Drudge horizontally cross-promotes. GOP attacks rocket from Issa’s keyboard to Fox News and Drudge’s site, which beams them outward to be repeated from “Morning Joe” to the evening news and daily newspapers. Armies of mainstream media insiders pore over the Drudge
Report like Talmudic scholars, which arguably make Drudge the single most influential person in American media.
The insular and personally based political style of Obama works brilliantly when he is a single candidate concentrating his full apparatus against a single opponent such as Mitt Romney, but fails in the White House when the mission is to promote a powerful message and mobilize mass opinion to influence the machinery of governance.
Former President Reagan understood this. His addresses to the nation, backed by his grassroots organization and promoted by his media allies, flooded the Capitol switchboard and synchronized his power in both campaigning and governing.
Drudge in this sense is the oldest child of Reagan. In basketball terms, Drudge is the playmaker who gives assists to others, while Obama is the shooter who takes too many wild three-point shots while teammates are open under the net, pleading for him to throw them the ball.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at