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The ‘Drunk’ Smear

At the end of a slow holiday weekend, Matt Drudge linked to a video posted by YouTube member SocialistsSteal, labeled “Senator Max Baucus Drunk/Intoxicated on Senate Floor.” SocialistsSteal had, ironically, stolen the video from ThinkProgress, which had grabbed the lengthy clip — way back on Dec. 22, six days before Drudge — to highlight Baucus’ confrontation with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). The ThinkProgress watermark remained on the stolen video. But no matter — as Patrick Gavin explains, it’s gotten “buzz on the internet,” so Politico is asking Baucus for comment whether or not he was drunk during the health care debate, because an anonymous YouTube account claims he was.

The thing is, this sort of “drunk” smear against a Democrat giving a slightly slurred speech is not new. Last year, immediately after Joe Biden became Barack Obama’s running mate, a YouTube member named JonnyRatheon posted a 2:27 clip of Biden on the campaign trail and titled it “Joe Biden drunk on campaign trail – NOT a joke video.”

Of course, Biden was not drunk. The vice president — who survived an aneurysm in 1988 and has an easily parodied, freewheeling speaking style — is a teetotaler. But do a YouTube search for “Biden” and “drunk” and you’ll find numerous videos posted by people who mistake some slurred speech for inebriation. One video of a random, drunk-acting white man who vaguely looks like Biden has more than 436,000 views. If Matt Drudge had linked to them, would they have generated “buzz on the internet” and become news?

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