'Play up accusations, and when they aren't true, don't mention it.'
The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Los Angeles Times’s motto soon to be hanging on the Newseum wall.
The news that former Clinton White House aide Sidney Blumenthal dropped his $30 million four-year litigation against the DRUDGE REPORT and editor Matt Drudge after agreeing to a settlement which requires Blumenthal to pay cash to Drudge's attorneys failed to grab the attention of big media's elite editors and reporters.
After exhaustive coverage of the case, nearly 3700 breathless stories are filed on the Lexis-Nexis database about Blumenthal vs. Drudge, the nation's major outlets stopped the presses.
No news is good news, and in this case, good news is no news if it is good news for Drudge.
WALL STREET JOURNAL Washington Bureau Chief Alan J. Murray, when reached by telephone Thursday, exhibited a spell of confusion when asked why his paper has not issued a follow-up to its Page 1 above-the-fold multi-thousand word dissection on "Drudge's troubles".
"There is such a level of built-in irresponsibility in everything he says and does," the JOURNAL quoted 'First Amendment' protector Floyd Abrams in its Page 1 rant. "If one were rewriting libel law today, one would try to write it to assure that the false statements of Matt Drudge were treated as libel."
The WALL STREET JOURNAL and Murray's splash headline 'INTERNET BAD BOY HAS HIS DAY IN COURT' has been left as the paper's only coverage, without any follow-up or reporting on the bad boy's good outcome.
"I don't know. I don't know," Murray said repeatedly when asked why the paper failed to inform its readers of the case's outcome, let alone Blumenthal retreating, checkbook in hand.
Murray conceded he was aware of the withdrawal of the case by Blumenthal but didn't know why the paper had not followed up its Page 1 splash, which was assigned by Murray himself.
"Call me back at 5 o'clock and I'll try to have some answers," Murray assured, proving once and for all that news moves at its own sweet pace in America's sacred newsrooms.
Nearly 72-hours after the case had been settled, and word spread across the world's wires, Alan J. Murray -- was simply not in a hurry.
Over at CNN the Drudge/Blumenthal legal battle was mentioned 24-times in various rotations through the years. Blumenthal's suit was played up on LARRY KING LIVE, INSIDE POLITICS, RELIABLE SOURCES, CAPITAL GANG [Saturday and Sunday], CROSSFIRE, TALKBACK LIVE, CNN & CO., MONEYLINE, LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL and alas BURDEN OF PROOF, which fell silent when Blumenthal's burden in court could not be met.
CNN's INSIDE POLITICS did a 9-second detailed summary on the case's ending late Wednesday still asserting that Drudge's initial report, which was at the center of the lawsuit, was 'a reckless and malicious lie.' Quoting Blumenthal, of course, but ignoring completely any Drudge response.
BURDEN OF PROOF TV presenter Greta Van Susteren had been on the receiving end of many a Blumenthal leak while he was at the White House. At the height of litigation, Van Susteren hosted Blumenthal's pitbull attorney William McDaniel and gave him the forum to declare: "Drudge will have to give up his sources!"
Van Susteren has yet to inform her viewers that Drudge never had to give up his sources.
In the end it was Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. McDaniel, in fact, who had to give it up.
LARRY KING LIVE, RELIABLE SOURCES, CAPITAL GANG, CROSSFIRE, TALK BACK LIVE, CNN & CO, MONEYLINE viewers are left with the impression that the slam-dunk case against Drudge is still ongoing.
USA TODAY, which featured ten stories referencing Blumenthal's case against Drudge, did not even run a single line in one of their clever 50-state (and District of Columbia) news summaries.
After headlines that blared 'Drudge Dredges Media Mistake', 'World Wide Web Net's Future Raises Fears', and a photo of Matt Drudge Page 1 above-the-fold, the nation's most circulated newspaper stopped circulating.
The LOS ANGELES TIMES featured five stories referencing the lawsuit, including a four-thousand word cover story in its Sunday magazine headlined: 'Matt Drudge Has Been Accused of Recklessness and Libel'.
Not a word. Not a period. Not a comma out of Times Mirror Square about the vindication of Drudge.
NEW YORK TIMES Washington bureau chief Jill Abramson said Thursday the case filed in a Washington D.C. Federal Court "has not been a Washington story."
Although reporters who are housed in the NEW YORK TIMES Washington office have written about the case, Abramson explained they report elsewhere in the NEW YORK TIMES maze of command.
So the paper that reported every accusation alleged by Blumenthal -- 6-times over -- finds itself in a bureaucratic snafu when it comes to the case's grand finale.
NYT business media legal editor David Smith, who is said to have green-lit most of the TIMES' coverage of Drudge [Smith unleashed media gossip columnist Felicity Barringer to write a particularly nasty case mop-up in the Summer of '98], when reached on Thursday was curiously out of words.
When asked directly why he has not assigned anyone to write about the Drudge win, a flustered Smith repeated a 'no comment' mantra.
NEW YORK TIMES readers have been left with the impression that the lawsuit against Drudge is ongoing and will continue forever until Mr. Blumenthal is victorious.
"What the NEW YORK TIMES is doing with its sin of omission is no doubt a form of libel of its own, corporate news slander of the highest degree," said Professor Emeritus Andrew Breitbart of the Cashmere Institute of Media Studies.
"How does Drudge begin to clear his name with the NEW YORK TIMES readership? It appears there is little recourse with 'The Paper of Record.'"
Take it to the web, young man.
Take it to the free and wonderful web.
* * * * *
After this dispatch hit the web, Matt Drudge received e-mails from the NY TIMES and the WALL STREET JOURNAL, both now rushing to do stories on the Blumenthal cash settlement:
I'm doing a piece for The Times on the settlement of Blumenthal's libel suit against you. I'd like to talk to you. Do you have a new number? The one I have rings without answering.
X X X X X
Date: Thu, 3 May 2001 15:12:21 -0400
X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2650.21)
Am writing a story about the settlement of your lawsuit with Blumenthal, and would like to talk with you soon as possible today. thanks,
The Wall Street Journal
Copyright Drudgereport.com 2001
(Posted to FrontPageMag.com on 5/4/01)