When unique visitors to HughHewitt.com crashes through 125,000 on a single day, I know the public is engaged.
That's what happened yesterday, and my guess is that Townhall.com traffic was also off the charts.
Election days usually see such spikes as information junkies hunt for bits and pieces of intel.
And yesterday's numbers were no doubt helped along by lefties eager to read my interviews with Mark Halperin of ABC News. (Interview one here and interview two here.) Halperin and co-author John Harris have written a book, The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008, and was eager to promote it while talking politics with me. We disagreed sharply on many issues though the long conversation was for the most part very civil, and the left was as a result feverish beyond belief and fired with rage against Halperin. Generated a lot of traffic too.
But that doesn’t explain the Wednesday surge. The surge was Kerry's doing.
I did so because the e-mails kept arriving from members of the military on active duty as well as their family and friends, as well as veterans.
I posted as much of the flow as I could while at the same time broadcasting and meeting deadlines. I managed to relay only a small portion of the outrage.
That outrage built from Monday forward, and not just because of Kerry's arrogance and bluster.
Even as the men and women in uniform heard the sneer and felt the slur, they also watched as elite media dismissed their anger and participated in the diminishment of their right to be incensed.
On Tuesday Halperin told me that the military are "not necessarily the best arbiters of Senator Kerry’s sense of humor."
On Wednesday morning --oblivious to the feelings of the troops and their families-- the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz intoned that "[t]here isn't anybody, including in the Bush administration, who believes that Kerry meant to insult the soldiers in Iraq with his clumsy joke.
On Wednesday afternoon --even after Kerry had published a half-apology (and an unsatisfactory one to much of the military if my e-mail is good indication), MSNBC's Chris Matthew was demanding of former Kerry campaign manager Bob Shrum why Kerry had apologized to people whom he had not insulted.
Within the Manhattan-Beltway media machine there was utter cluelessness as to opinion about Kerry's statement, Kerry's refusal to apologize, and then Kerry's non-apology apology, a cluelessness so profound as to be easily mistaken for contempt.
No other group would be treated with such casual disregard than the American military. They were the target of the barb, but their opinions about it and the man who hurled it were not consulted, and indeed, positively avoided. Much more important in the eyes of the MSM is what elite pundits and prestige reporters thought of what Kerry said and what Kerry did.
Why were so many so eager to defend Kerry instead of the troops?
A handful of Democrats instantly understood that Kerry had crossed an unacceptable line, though many including Pennsylvania's Bob Casey and Ohio's Sherrod Brown rushed to defend their patron as opposed to the military they soon hope to represent.
In MSM, there were almost no voices willing to recognize the slander and demand an apology.
New media moved to make sure the military's view was heard, but it was the military itself that ultimately settled the issue.
One picture --now a famous picture-- utterly routed the MSM. It did so because it came from the military that had heard and understood what Kerry had said, and what he had not apologized for. Whether or not the old media carries the picture on front pages today (which would have been an obvious decision in any newsroom not deeply biased against the military and in favor of Democrats) most Americans will have seen it and laughed and laughed at John Kerry. Ridicule is the best revenge, and the troops have it.
But the American electorate also has a very clear example of how the media has been covering the war, the 2006 campaign, and, yes, the military for the past few years. The big MSM names want another Vietnam, and they pursue that storyline with a relentlessness that isn't deterred even by plummeting circulation and declining viewership.It is surpassingly strange to watch an industry will its own destruction. But stranger still if the culture within which it lives does not object to the design.