Matt Drudge is No Gentleman

The press receives an advanced copy of the President’s speeches and some of them are embargoed which means they are not allowed to be used until the time indicated. This practice is a gentleman’s agreement between the press and the White House and it goes back a long way. The White House is under no obligation to provide advanced copies and does so as a courtesy. One would assume that the press could keep their part of the bargain. The legitimate press did.

Matt Drudge, a name familiar to anyone with Internet access, somehow got a hold of the embargoed speech and promptly posted it on his web site, well before the embargo ended. Drudge likes to think of himself as some kind of maverick who is on the cutting edge in the news world. In all reality, his web site is nothing more than a clearing house for links to other people’s work. Rarely is there any original content because Drudge just puts up links to the work of legitimate members of the press as well as items submitted by readers. I can not say he is unsuccessful because his site gets millions of hits a day from people looking for the latest news or links to some story a reader reports that Drudge will be happy to post and for which he might even give credit.

There is a gentleman’s agreement and it is expected that people who receive the courtesy extended by the White House would abide by that agreement. Unfortunately, Drudge chose to act in a cowardly fashion. I imagine he thinks it is important to be the first out of the chute (not a major accomplishment here Matt, any journalist could have done that but they are professional) so that millions more people will flock to his site. Drudge’s site has quite a few ads and I am sure he makes really good money from them from all the page hits but it must be terrible to have such low self esteem that he needs to break a time honored tradition to be first. We are not talking about some terrible scandal, we are talking about a speech.

It would not surprise me if the White House stopped providing the advanced copies or if they at least restricted it to hard copy and only for established, professionals, not Internet hacks who desire fame so badly they are willing to be dishonorable to get it. One might be able to excuse Drudge if this were the first time or if he made a mistake about the time but he takes pride in “breaking embargoes.”

Drudge didn’t respond to requests for comment from ABC News this morning but recently has been heard to boast on his Sunday night radio show, “That’s what we do here at the Drudge Report. We break embargoes.” The Blotter

What does it say about a person who brags about being an embargo breaker but does not have the testicular fortitude to answer calls from real journalists seeking comment? I say it shows that Drudge is a coward who thinks it is great to break time honored traditions for his own personal gain.

This kind of childish, cowardly act, is what causes the professional journalists to dismiss bloggers and others using alternative media. They view us as hacks who can not work professionally and who have no ethics. I have no great love for the MSM and think that the alternative media is important to keep them on their toes (Rathergate anyone?) but I also give them credit for being professional enough to honor agreements. It shows a great deal of professionalism to honor an embargo agreement and not disclose the items until the agreed upon time. I know Drudge has a great history of being first and being cutting edge but he has also been wrong because of his recklessness. To me, there is no difference between him being trusted with something and betraying that trust and the person who passes classified information. Each has been trusted and each has violated that trust. Would you really trust him with any information?

I do not knock the fact that Drudge took an idea and made it a success (he makes over a million dollars a year) even if it is just a website with links to other people’s work. The fact is though, he could have followed decorum. This is not too much to ask with regard to a story that is not an Earth shattering event.

If I were in the White House last night’s speech would have been the last that was sent out. Then Matt would have to wait like everyone else.

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4 Responses to “Matt Drudge is No Gentleman”

  1. Robert says:

    Well BD, I have a couple of questions about this:
    1. IF WH didn’t provide a copy to Drudge then WHO DID?
    2. If Drudge answered the calls what would he be expected to say? Sorry? I won’t do it again? what?
    3. WHO really cares? I mean if I were the President and it was MY duty to give the speech, I would be as secret as possible with it, to give the opposition no advance warning of what they will hear, so they can’t choreograph the applause.

    Even if Drudge let the whole thing out, the MSM folks were dissecting it all day in pieces.

    While a gentleman’s agreement deserves to be honored, it appears that whoever gave the speech to him wasn’t much of a gentleman either.

    BTW the MSM as a whole has very little right to claim unethical behavior against ANYONE. they have been the biggest bunch of unethical bastards America has ever seen.

  2. Big Dog says:

    They claim that hundreds go out to a mailing list of journalists. Maybe he is on that list. Maybe if he answered the calls he could say who he got it from and why he did it. Might be nice to have that information.

    I don’t care as much as I point it out. I think you know how I feel about honor and this was dishonorable. I think I pointed out I have little regard for the MSM but they held on to it (at least technically).

    I also know how people look at bloggers and such. Guys who do stuff like this brings into question the ethics of the non standard information services.

  3. Wild Bill says:

    Love ya Big Dog but I have to disagree with you on this one. Drudge did the right thing. The MSM is NEVER going to take bloggers seriously. Hell they steal from us everyday and never say that we are their source. They lie everyday and then talk of gentlemen’s agreements? What a joke. Drudge never agreed to some ignorant unwritten rule. This was not classified information. The MSM seems to not have much of a problem publishing classified national security information (NYT). The MSM had been printing portions of the speech all week. I applaud Drudge for what he did and I would have done the same thing. If I would have made an agreement that I would not publish then I would not publish. Drudge made no agreement.

  4. Big Dog says:

    Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion and I respect all of them. Regardless of how alternative media is taken. There are certain ethical standards that are expected and if Drudge got the speech, even if he was not entitled, then he would certainly recognize the embargo. I know it was not classified and no big deal except it is honorable to follow a request. If Drudge had gotten a sensitive report and published it I would feel the same.

    Just because the MSM prints classified material does not mean it is right for everyone to print something that they are asked not to or to at least wait until a certain time of the day. The whole two wrongs thing…

    I wonder how it would be if there was a list of people killed in Iraq that got out and the press was asked not to report it until all the families were notified and someone went ahead and published it anyway. I realize the speech is not the same, it is only a speech, but the principle is the same.

    If I came across an item that had instructions asking it not be made public until a certain time I would honor that even if i were not required to, out of respect.

    I also think the other issue is, how did he get it. If he was on the authorized distribution then he was obligated by that fact alone. If he was not, who gave it to him. Like Bushwack said, that person is not honorable as well.