No News is No News 

Both sides of the center are missing what matters.

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Two of the websites I have bookmarked are The Drudge Report and The Huffington Post. I don’t know why that is. Neither of them reveal very much, as each has a value equation predicated on either being predictably left of center—HuffPo—or caustically right of center—Drudge. However, many times each day I click on one then the other in a weird attempt to balance one set of views with another. I’ve been doing this ever since HuffPo launched, and I’m here to tell you that all the balance I’ve discovered by clicking to then fro can be easily contained in a small coffee cup.

If the lead story on Drudge is about a nefarious act by someone in the Democratic Party or of a liberal background, I will click on HuffPo to see how it is being covered over there, perhaps to see if the story has any basis in fact. As often as not, such a story isn’t being covered at all by HuffPo, or has been relegated to a lesser status somewhere deep down on the home page. The same thing happens in reverse when a lead story on HuffPo is being ignored by Drudge. I long ago quit reading both the bloggers on HuffPo and the columnists linked to Drudge. I can read or listen to Arianna Huffington all day, as she is most certainly a fine debater and a well-educated spokeswoman on any topic she’s asked to opine upon, but most of her blogger corps do little for me. I used to read a number of columnists on Drudge, as I thought they were wise or respectable, but they all jumped off the cliff when Obama was elected president, and I just don’t have time for their repetitive call to failure for America.

I’m hooked, though. I’m like a junkie who keeps knocking on the rotting, back-alley door, the one with all the locks, trying to get a fix even though I know the dealer moved out years ago. I keep hoping for something good to come of my addiction to news and that I might actually find something truly worthy on Drudge or HuffPo simply because I did at one time in my life. But more and more, I find myself clicking onto MSNBC or a similar true-news site that actually produces reported news, as opposed to sites that tender tidbits of news in the same way a street vendor tenders souvlaki—they skew it and try to sell it.

Drudge survives with a site that is so minimalist it startles me when there’s a flash of red or blue font in the mix. Must be big news, I think, and I fall for it. And as often as not, I’ve been lured into some discredited conspiracy crap. Meanwhile, HuffPo is morphing daily into an eye-candy, catchall site for all things inane. For example, every day a portion of the site brings me news about something going on in Denver, Colo. I don’t live in Denver. The site is doing some kind of Frankenstein geo-locater experiment with me and assumes that since I live near the Rocky Mountains, as do Denver residents, I must be deeply interested in the snow depth at Aspen. Or what Tom Tancredo has to say. Or, as is the case today, how Colorado’s schools stack up. What those schools stack up against I don’t know, as I’m not going to click on the link; especially not when just below it an even more promising bait lurks—Lindsay Lohan stripping and talking about her future.

Now, that’s something worth clicking on. Except it isn’t. I fell for it and clicked, and I have to say that the only time I’ve seen less breast with such a tease was when Kate Winslet flashed her set in Titanic. But, that’s what HuffPo is playing to these days. Nearly every day is a come-on to take a look at the boobs of a supermodel or the penis of a sports jock caught sexting. Drudge seems to avoid the overtly sexual but makes up for it with screeching headlines discrediting climate change by citing a new record low or high out of season in some part of the world, even playing a racial angle on news events or by pushing stories about obscure diseases. Both use the art of teasing to the detriment of real news.

Real news is defined individually. Both Drudge and HuffPo have recently blared about a mosque that’s to be built adjacent to Ground Zero in New York City. Drudgies can predictably find outrage that the site where more than 3,000 of our fellow citizens fell victim to Islamic extremists would even be considered as a location for a mosque. At HuffPo, one can find a message of measured tolerance that speaks to a forgiving, civil and decent American society. Why, they even quote a Jewish survey from the NIMBYs living in the Upper West Side (not exactly near Ground Zero) that proclaims it’s OK to proceed with mosque construction. Shalom, baby. Would that fly in Jerusalem?

Both sites miss what is important news to me. On 9/11, only one religious structure was destroyed at Ground Zero: the landmark St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at the World Trade Center. It has not been rebuilt, nor will it be any time soon. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is in a nine-year squabble over a property exchange that would allow the historic church to be rebuilt. I learned about this on Facebook. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? Why no outrage? If there is, I’d never know by entrusting Drudge or HuffPo to inform me, as they’re too busy touting Botox and solar flares to notice.

John Saltas:

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