The Making of the Liberal Drudge

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 5 2011 9:46 AM

The Making of the Liberal Drudge

William Cohan reports on the lawsuit Democratic consultants James Boyce and Peter Daou have filed over the credit they think they deserve for developing the Huffington Post. It's a good read that does not do much to convince the reader that Boyce and Daou were right. Their key contribution to the development -- a 15-page memo for a site tentatively called "1460," for the number of days between presidential elections -- does not brim with original ideas. It's fascinating to recall, though, how a liberal news site with original reporting, now relied on by both parties as a way to break news and get it covered by the rest of the press, originated as a way to elect a Democratic president. Boyce takes us back to the night John Kerry lost:

He remembers coming across a statistic—whether true or not is unclear—that in the last 24 hours of the election some 36 million people had visited the Drudge Report. The numbers swirled in his head—125 million voters, 36 million people on Drudge, and the election was lost because of around 100,000 voters in Ohio—and he had his eureka moment: "John Kerry lost that election because he did not have a Drudge," he says. "That’s why we lost."

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HuffPo hasn't replaced Drudge. It really has given Democrats and liberal groups -- largely unions -- access to the echo chamber that had been dominated more by conservatives. But unlike Drudge, it spends a lot of time reporting on outrages by conservatives, everything from Palin tweets to videos of birther congressmen, and the jury's still out on how this helps elect Democrats.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.