Spreading Drudge's Sludge

16 Feb 2015 | 06:04

    Cybergossip Matt Drudge may say that he is not gay, but one thing is clear, no matter his sexual orientation: he's a nasty faggot.

    Last week Drudge reported on his website that David Brock, author of Blinded by the Right, the bestseller that conservatives have not been able to discredit with reasoned argument, had a "breakdown" while writing the book and checked into a hospital, something Brock reluctantly confirmed when Drudge called him. What this was supposed to mean in terms of Brock's credibility, I don't know, but it was pretty lame. Some of the greatest authors in history, after all, have had nervous breakdowns?even including some well-known conservative pundits I've heard about in recent years?not to mention a good percentage of Hollywood and Wall Street.

    And delving into Brock's private medical matters when they have no relevancy was not only sleazy; it was profoundly transparent coming from Drudge, who must be seething over the riveting Blinded, knowing so many people are reading it. This is the second book that outs Drudge (Jeannette Walls' Dish in 2000 was the first), even though he's denied that he is gay, perhaps fearing that the homo-hating legions at FreeRepublic.com and elsewhere will drop him like a hot potato. (Not to worry Matt: Brock's own journey showed conclusively that they'll accept a house homo as long as you'll bend over for them and get down on your knees for people like George W. Bush, something Andrew Sullivan has proved as well.) And this time the outing was coming straight from the horse's mouth: Brock claims he and Drudge?who reveled in exposing Bill Clinton's sex life?dated once; Brock says he received an e-mail in which Drudge pined on about how he wished they were "fuck buddies," all of which is in the book.

    You'd think that no respectable journalist would further the new Drudge sludge on Brock, at least not without a fuller explanation that included Drudge's possible motives. But The Washington Post's Lloyd Grove?who fancies himself the respectable gossip columnist?jumped on it quicker than a rabbit in heat, and curiously only gave half the story. Grove conveniently forgot to mention, even in a G-rated way, the "fuck buddies" e-mail?and in fact even forgot to mention that Drudge was criticized in Blinded, not to mention outed, or that he would have any reason at all to slam Brock. He also forgot to call any liberals for their take on Drudge's attack. But Grove did manage to get quotes from three (!) archconservatives who salivated over it and who smeared Brock further with generalized statements, such as: "there had been suspicions there was something wrong [with Brock] for a while." Could Grove's sudden amnesia and loss of journalistic clarity and vision have something to do with the fact that his much-publicized girlfriend is conservative pundit Amy Holmes, who came up through the right-wing Independent Women's Forum and was a loyal foot soldier of IWF's cofounder Ricky Silberman, who was savaged in Brock's book? Blinded by the right indeed.

    Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, meanwhile, Mr. Journalistic Ethics himself, who sometimes even lobs a softball at his own paper, has yet to criticize Grove for this insidious crap, and it's doubtful he will. (He did mention the Drudge item and Grove's story in his cut-and-paste online column, floating the story further, and quoting Eric Alterman's criticisms of Drudge, but Kurtz did not take Grove and Drudge to task himself.) I read both Grove and Kurtz regularly, often enjoy them and have nothing against them in a general sense. But it is galling that they hold themselves up as the arbiters of proper?and objective?journalism in such matters, as if for them politics, not to mention personal friendships, never enter into the picture (and in the case of Kurtz, pontificating on everyone else's journalism).

    Last year, when I penned an article about Andrew Sullivan's racy online advertisements for "bareback" (condomless) sex and the contradictions his behavior posed with regard to his moralistic crusade against other people's sex lives, the Post duo wouldn't go near it. Grove in fact told a journalist friend of mine that he absolutely didn't believe that the story about "Andrew" was true. Sullivan of course later confirmed it all. Even then, Grove and Kurtz wouldn't touch it. Both men continually shot the story down when readers in the Post's live online chats asked, several times over several weeks, why they didn't cover it. The two journalists claimed that the fact that I was a longtime critic of Sullivan was reason not to cover it, in addition to claiming that it was private information.

    So what is the difference now with Brock? Actually, I see differences that, from a journalistic perspective, make the Sullivan story much more reportable than the Brock story, which should never have made its way into The Washington Post. Unlike Sullivan with his bareback ads, Brock didn't put his medical information on a website for anyone to eventually figure out. Brock didn't then meet people through that website and identify himself as the person connected to that medical information, thus making the information public on his own. And having a breakdown did not contradict Brock's work; if anything, it only confirms the arduous and stressful journey he lays out in the book. (Jeez, anyone who hung out with vipers like Ann Coulter and David Horowitz is bound to have a nervous breakdown!) If Sullivan were to have a breakdown, or if Grove or Kurtz or I do, for that matter, would that negate everything we've written, every position we've taken, every change of mind we've had?

    But Sullivan's reckless behavior?advertised publicly on a website?in light of his ranting condemnations of Bill Clinton's sex life, his pontificating on gay male culture and, most importantly, his pronouncements on AIDS, was certainly relevant to report on and discuss. And even if you don't agree with that, how do you justify ignoring the Sullivan story but then reporting on Brock's private medical information, exposed for political reasons?

    Kurtz's bias toward Sullivan?who calls him "Howie," in that clubby Beltway manner?has been evident for a long time. Two weeks ago, when Sullivan claimed that he'd been "banned" from The New York Times, Mr. Journalism wrote an embarrassingly unsubstantiated piece in the Post that positioned Sullivan as the poor victim of censorship. Sullivan claimed he was let go by Times executive editor Howell Raines because of his criticisms of the Times, but no one at the Times?not even unnamed sources?gave Kurtz a comment, let alone confirmed Sullivan's charge.

    Nonetheless, in a startling summarizing line Kurtz wrote: "Sullivan's opinions also cost him his weekly 'TRB' column in the New Republic, where he is still listed as a contributor." With that one sentence Kurtz not only accepted as fact that Sullivan was fired from the Times for his opinions, but also claimed as fact that the same thing happened at The New Republic?but again, he had not one source from The New Republic, named or unnamed, stating that. (The next day, Slate's Jack Shafer, after making a few calls, reported that sources at the Times surmised that Sullivan's often-discussed sloppy journalism was the true culprit.)

    These are some of our so-called paragons of journalism, spreading Drudge's sludge, as well as that of his pals, like Sullivan, while pontificating about what's unethical and irresponsible about journalism today. Ain't that a hoot?

    Michelangelo Signorile can be reached at [www.signorile.com](http://www.signorile.com).