Until late on the day of Feb.15, 2014, the Drudge Report site tapped ongoing speculation about whether Hillary will run for president in 2016. The Matt Drudge site used a candid image of former Secretary of State Clinton above a link asking, "Is Hillary Clinton Too Old to Run?"
The close-up image of Hillary is so unflattering, it begs the questions: Is Matt signaling Hillary he will use his considerable media power to make sure she is in for a long dirty fight if she runs? Is he trying to influence Hillary to quit before she runs and wins?
In the image Hillary's face shows all of the sags and bags normal to a woman of 66 years. It's a particularly stark photo, one any woman with any vanity would hate for the public to see. Hillary's hair appears to be a limp, lackluster gray, her face is heavily wrinkled, and her skin is blotchy with unsightly age spots. All by itself, the close-up serves as an undeniable reminder that Hillary is no longer young while reinforcing concern that Hillary may have health issues.
The days when a high-profile personality can control which photos are used of them have almost ended. If Hillary runs and if she wins the presidency, as many predict, perhaps she might then follow President Obama's example and use a hand-out practice which allows the White House almost complete control of what the public sees and the message that is delivered with it.
An article,"Obama blackout urged as press fights for right to cover White House," describes the anger of the press over Obama's "unprecedented limitations on photojournalists." The press considers this kind of control a form of censorship.
Although the Drudge Report replaced the ugly photo link with a link revealing, "Michelle O tops Hillary in First Lady Poll," a recent McClatchy-Marist Poll shows Hillary as a near shoo-in if she runs and wins the Democratic nomination. "A majority of registered voters nationally would support Clinton, regardless of her Republican opponent," But will Hillary run?
Within the Drudge linked article, the National Journal quotes an unidentified Clinton law friend who predicted,"If Bill and Hillary are healthy, she will run." That statement echoes a similar one recently tweeted by Matt Drudge, "Hillary makes the big move two years to the day Iowa 2016... Her biggest roadblock: HER HEALTH."
From the "Hillary Papers," a revealing stash of documents originally released to the public by The Free Beacon which many feels highlights Hillary's capacity for ruthlessness, a book was mentioned as one that had captured the attention of Washington pols. When Hillary despaired over unfavorable press, her friend, Diana Blair, recommended the title, "Out of Order."
Tom Patterson, the author, wrote of the relentless political stories hawked by the press, "The voter's problem is that of overload." He goes on to say, "Facts are not what drives the news," instead, "the mere whiff of a scandal triggers a "feeding frenzy," making the case that journalistic motives are often impure, hindering their ability to deliver perfect information.
As for Hillary being "too old to run," many potential presidential candidates have the luxury of deciding, as Patterson put it in his book, "Should I run now or wait until the next election?" Most would agree that Hillary's options for her decision, whatever it may end up being, are certainly age and health related.
Matt Drudge once wryly admitted he needed Hillary. Arguably, none would deny the aura around the Clintons, as a pair, has often included more than "a whiff of scandal."
The Drudge Report's profit margin depends upon renting lucrative ad space. After opening the Hillary story in another window, an ad featuring Hillary's infamous husband, former President Bill Clinton pops up. The copy reads: "This story could bring the worst shame to the White House since the Clinton era... WATCH NOW."
Arguably, for Matt Drudge, the Clintons are a cash cow and will be whether Hillary runs or not. It may help to remember the next time Drudge links to a Hillary story, it's not merely about politics nor even the power of Drudge links to influence.
In the meantime, Hillary can't miss the message that if she does run, the conservative press reporting likely will reflect the photo Matt used. It won't be pretty.