The hidden hand

The wave of publicity for the Birther movement hasn’t yet crested, with the dentist who’s the movement’s leading legal light, Orly Taitz, saying she’s taping the Colbert Report tomorrow, and popping up elsewhere in the mainstream media.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, on the theory that sunlight and ridicule are good antidotes to this kind of mythmaking, which was ultimately the lesson of the campaign’s "Muslim" and "Whitey" Obama myths.

But a smart colleague pointed out something else to me about the sudden flood of attention: It’s (yet another) piece of evidence for Matt Drudge’s power to decide what everyone else is talking about. Dave Weigel and I, among others, have been following the Birthers as a curiousity and more for quite a while, and Dave had already posted an interesting piece on Republicans having to deal with Birthers, and followed last Monday morning with a link to video of Rep. Mike Castle confronting a woman convinced that Obama isn’t legitimate.

Drudge, whose judgment for the riveting, relevant, and bizarre remains unmatched, posted the video later Monday. And he propelled the (riveting, and weird) scene into the bloodstream — he alone sent 255,488 viewers — onto cable, and thence into, among other places, finally the Times (twice), which reported that … everybody was talking about it.

Which is all just a particularly clear glimpse of the central role Drudge plays in the media ecosystem.

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