Thursday, December 22, 2005

Principles of Drudge

Reading Matt Drudge is a guilty pleasure - a mixture of Republican and pro-Bush propaganda, Hollywood gossip, items about hurricanes, Mel Gibson and Princess Di, and obscure obsessions such as his seemingly arbitrary hatred of fellow traveler Bill O'Reilly. (Did this grow out of some specific incident, or is it just that Drudge, like the rest of us, can't stand the guy?)

At times, though, some of Drudge's biases and obsessions cannot coexist. Today's example is the NSA-Bush-surveillance issue. For years, Drudge has been trumpeting each instance of expanding government surveillance of ordinary citizens everywhere in the world, which he obviously regards as a scandal, a menace to freedom, whatever. Today, he flags this story about plans in Britain to create a system that will monitor the movement of every car in the country.

The Bush-NSA story, which apparently involves the government's warrantless sorting through emails and telephone calls, is a telling example of the ever-widening eye of government surveillance. Yet Drudge is ignoring an issue obviously near and dear to his heart and instead pushing a straight-up administration line on the story. He links to a story about Clinton doing similar things and to another saying "warrantless searches not unprecedented."

I expect -- indeed, I hope for -- a degree of arbitrariness from Drudge. In a sea of Internet-driven talking points, a little anarchy goes a long way. But it is interesting to read the tea leaves and wonder what's going on inside his head. Who is he talking to? Why has he decided that defending Bush is preferable to dissing secret, unauthorized domestic spying? What do they have on him? Of course the Bush-NSA links are below several items on Elton John's wedding jewelry, indicating he may feel some ambivalence.