Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Matt Drudge is an Asshat

We had our own reaction to Drudge's outing of Prince Harry being in Afghanistan earlier, when the story was revealed.

Now, I honestly don't know if the prince was really in any danger. I do know that the area he was in has been the scene of fierce fighting with a resurgent Taliban. Every single NATO soldier that serves in Afghanistan means that someone else is stepping up to the plate to fight terrorism and each and every one of them is a soldier that is serving in the place of a US soldier. I do know that the British Army isn't the sort of organization that would tolerate a disasterous officer presence in its ranks, regardless of that person and their pedigree. It is expected that Harry serve, in any capacity, and that expectation is something we, as Americans, aren't ever going to understand until we begin insisting that if Washington politicians want to vote for a goddamned war, they better have their own kids in uniform, and with the right mission and the right gear.

LTC Bateman says it a little better than I do:

For years I struggled with many of my peers, trying to convince them that journalists are not the enemy. It was an uphill row to hoe, but a worthy one. Over time most seem to have accepted the proposition that journalists and their editors really do take a lot of time and effort to determine if they should run with a story, particularly one which might damage us, so the terrain shifted. More and more I came to find myself engaging with either veterans or “pro military” civilian bloggers. Their positions are more hardened than those of us serving today. Often this appears to be a byproduct of their politics. (One of the political parties has it as a basic contention that “the mainstream media” is fundamentally anti-military.) Over and over again I’ve heard the refrain by people of this inclination, that journalists don’t give a damn about those of us in uniform and would sell us out for a second if it meant a good story.

Most of these people seem to watch Fox News as well. This is a tad ironic, since Fox News carries far and away the least coverage of, you know, war. (They did, however, lead all news stations in coverage of some 18 year-old blonde girl who went missing in Aruba, and Anna Nicole Smith reports.) (No, I am not kidding.)

It frustrates me to no end to listen to this claptrap, because the evidence points in exactly the opposite direction. Most journalists, and most journalism outlets, actually go pretty far out of their way to make sure that they do not endanger troops, nor spill any beans which might impede upcoming operations.

But now I do have an example of a "journalist" blowing a secret and endangering lives. This gadfly has global reach and an instant audience in the millions, and his move makes that yahoo Geraldo Rivera (who once sketched a map of US troop dispositions and planned operations in the dirt, live on Fox News channel) look like a discrete professional. The culprit: Matt Drudge.

No, it wasn’t American soldiers he put in danger. Those put at risk by Drudge’s stupidity and inability to balance newsworthiness with security were British soldiers, particularly those around Prince Harry, who Drudge revealed was in combat in Afghanistan.

You know that your name is mud when you cannot keep a secret that even the notorious blabbermouths of Fleet Street managed to silence among themselves. Yes, there were two teeny-tiny reports earlier. Both occurred in women’s fashion/gossip magazines: one in Australia months ago, and one in Germany which speculated that he might be in Iraq. Neither was authoritative. Neither was taken seriously. Both were actually quite vague. Then Matt “I can’t keep my big mouth shut” Drudge stepped up to the plate with an “Exclusive,” revealing at the top of his lungs that Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, was doing his duty and fighting in Afghanistan. And apparently, he doesn’t care that he blew it for one of our best and oldest allies.

For crying out loud, even the notorious tabloids of Britain managed to keep their mouths shut, though they knew about it the whole danged time. But blabbermouth Drudge has no qualms when he thinks he's got an exclusive, it's all about the hitcount (21st century version of ratings). Nice job Drudge. Way to go. Damage our alliance. Give the US another black-eye over in the UK. Put one of our ally’s most valued soldiers (and those around him) in danger, and call it a day, eh?

With “Support the Troops” idiots like this around, who needs enemies?

Since Drudge is a conservative--and quite the egg enthusiast--I highly doubt whether actually doing anything to support the troops in the war on terror means anything to him. It's about revenue, and those ads keep him flush.

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