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Should Matt Drudge Apologize for Reporting the News?

Should Matt Drudge Apologize for Reporting the News?

I’m no big fan of the Drudge Report, a popular site run by Matt Drudge, but this I find this pretty scary, since I am a fan of free speech. The background is that the Drudge Report picked up on a story that UK Prince Harry was in Afghanistan, and that was against the agreement UK press had with the military. In other words: No one reported this, it was a sanctioned news blackout.

Well, some Australian magazine picked up the story, broke it, and Matt Drudge picked it up. At that time, Prince Harry had been at the frontline in Afghanistan for 10 weeks.

And now the Mayor of Windsor and Maidenhead demands an apology. A Councillor James Evans says:

“Matt Drudge should apologise immediately for what he has done, and we would urge other journalists to remember that what they print has a direct impact on areas of conflict. Our military needs and deserves our support.”

There has indeed been unrest among the Windsor families at home, since some people think that the enemy would go after the high profile target that Prince Harry is. I don’t know if that is merited or not, I’m not a military commander.

I do report news though, and I for one would not accept a news blackout in the first place. Who are you, whoever you are, to tell me what to report? I do agree that there is a great deal of responsibility as a writer, but that goes for everything. The fact that people wanted to read about Prince Harry is proof enough that there is public interest, something that James Evans said that there wasn’t. These are troubled times, if your prince is in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else, wouldn’t you want to know? How would you react if he came home in a body bag? Feel deceived, I’m sure.

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I don’t think Matt Drudge should apologize. It isn’t black and white, there might be very good reason why it would be dangerous if the enemy knew the Prince’s whereabouts, but obviously that isn’t a surprise to the military, so why send him in the first place, if he’s a danger to his fellow soldiers?

What do you think? Should Matt Drudge apologize? And what are the responsibilities when reporting news that could possibly hurt people?

View Comments (13)
  • Please correct me if I am wrong but Matt Drudge should be held even LESS responsible because he was only reporting on a story from an Aussie magazine. No apologize is necessary and other reports/blogger should stand up and clap.

  • From the sounds of it, he picked up what other outlets were about to report themselves. So is he to apologize because he was first to speak it? Silly in my mind. What if the NY Times had held onto important news about domestic phones being monitored — what good does keeping their mouths shut help the public?

  • Hell no he shouldn’t apologize.

    Plenty of people (Brits & others) are interested (I’ll use People magazine as evidence). I also agree with you that it’s probably better to report that he’s serving in Afghanistan than to report he’s come home in a body bag. He is in line for the throne, so the interest is not merely prurient…I mean, it’s not like Elton John was on the front lines.

    As to how to report it…carefully. Would it have been enough to report that he was serving with a unit that was deployed in Afghanistan without saying he was serving on the front lines? I don’t know, but those are the types of questions journalists and editors should be asking themselves.

  • Hell no. Having the press onside when you want to blacklist something is only going to help you so far. Bloggers exist and no-one can be sure who will publish what. It’s free speech.

    a) If they didn’t think Drudge was important enough to tell about the blacklist then that’s their own fricking problem.

    b) Who says he has to abide by their blacklist anyway? What, he’ll be banned from working for a UK newspaper? He’s not going to care about that.

    c) Obviously, they can’t tell everyone about the blacklist or they essentially tell everyone the news they didn’t want to tell. And you can’t tell bloggers because there’s nothing holding them to honour the blacklist. So, you’re always risking a blogger leak if you tell the press you want to blacklist something.

    Solution: Don’t bother blacklisting. Get your best PR to talk to your favourite press early on and get your side of the story heard.

  • Why should Drudge apologize?

    1) He wasn’t a part of the blackout.
    2) He wasn’t the first to report the story. He was third.

    So what exactly is he apologizing for?

    Unlike the English, I’m glad the US has something like the 1st amendment so news companies couldn’t be forced to do something.

  • I don’t think Matt Drudge should apologise – he was only reporting what New Idea has reported in Australia – weeks beforehand! They were the idiots that broke the story and they broke it long before Matt Drudge picked it up from them. Whats amazing is it didn’t even become ‘big news’ until Drudge reported it. New Idea have apologised and they did break a media blackout.

    I don’t feel the media should feel obligated to report everything. If its a delicate operation which ultimately is going to protect my freedom, I don’t feel a whole lot of need to know about it. Knowing Prince Harry is in Afghanistan, I don’t care. If he came home in a body bag and I only learned about it after the event, so what? Thats how we usually learn about these things anyway. Who knew Princess Diana was in Paris before she was killed in a car crash there???

    I get tired of a righteous American media who feel they should report EVERY clandestine operation. I don’t mind them making a huge song and dance about anything to do with MY freedom and ANYONE’s human rights being erorded, for example, illegal phone tapping, but I don’t feel a need to know of some big drug ring bust about to go down, or a prince fighting for our freedom in a foreign country as those things are basically protecting criminal elements from eroding my perceived sense of freedom and human rights.

    Some things should be exposed, some don’t need to. Knowing Prince Harry was in Afghanistan is not something that we particularly needed to know, but foreign agents knowing he was in Afghanistan would have greatly affected his basic freedom and human rights as he would have been a high profile person to kidnap, in much the same way if an American president had a son fighting in Afghanistan, every effort would be made to protect that knowledge falling into the wrong hands for the same reasons.

    But does Drudge need to apologise… No. His only crime was he got heard by more people than the folks of New Idea magazine (but then… I suspect the rest of the Australian media WAS participating in the media blackout which is why they didn’t relay the news to the rest of the world. A bit more integrity than the American media).

  • Matt Drudge is the KING Newsfilter.

    I don’t believe he actually does anything other than DJ links. What could be wrong with that?

  • “I do report news though, and I for one would not accept a news blackout in the first place. Who are you, whoever you are, to tell me what to report? I do agree that there is a great deal of responsibility as a writer, but that goes for everything.”

    I don’t think Drudge should apologize — the cat was already out of the bag. However, the Australian newspapers decision to go with the story, probably sharing the attitude above, is why normal people have such a low opinion of the press. What exactly was served by printing this story, other than to increase the risk to Prince Harry and guarantee he would get pulled from Afghanistan?

    Was this part of a major scandal? Some official corruption? Just what the hell point was served by running this other than “we’re reporters and no one’s going to tell us not to run a story” hubris.

  • I read the Drudge Report everyday. Some people may not like it, but that’s what’s great about free speech. If you make someone apologizing for reporting the news, that takes away free speech. Things like this always start small, but they soon grow. I think your post pretty much hits it right on.

  • This only means in every action and speech we make we should be liable and responsible whatever happens later. Even though there’s a freedom of speech we are still liable in every words we say.

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