There are some striking similarities between Complete Colorado and the Drudge Report, and it's more than just the bare-bones layout of the sites and conservative leanings of the sites' editors. The Drudge Report burst onto the national scene in the 1990s with its scoop on the Monica Lewinsky story and has held a dominant role in shaping the media narrative ever since.
What Drudge did in the Lewinsky scandal was force the media's hand. Much like the Hancock story, major news outlets, like Newsweek, were investigating the story but were holding back on publishing it. When Drudge headlined the news about the story, and the media's reticence on reporting it, the levees broke and the story blew wide open. That's almost exactly what happened here with Todd Shepherd and Colorado's Drudge Report, Complete Colorado, in regards to the Hancock hooker story. And much like the Lewinsky scandal, the real story is quickly becoming about lies, not sex.
Todd was not the first to look into this story, but he was the one who forced the story into the public domain. With Todd's reputation in the journalist community as more than just a basement-dwelling blogger, plus his publishing of source documents, when he published the story on June 2 a media firestorm erupted.
Multiple sources have told us "you have no idea" how much of a media war this has set off. Fox 31 aired a very defensive report last week stating multiple times that they hadn't aired nary a word about the story, or the allegations within until then, because they were such legitimate journalists. That, of course, was meant to, yet again, indirectly insult other journalists who had the guts to go public. While Fox 31 may have had only one source, other outlets certainly have more. As we pointed out last week, what struck us most about Fox 31 was rather than play their reticence as due to just not knowing enough, they instead have been very defensive and insulted those who disagree.
When Shepherd first broke the story it was Complete Colorado vs. "the media." The sides are not so unevenly matched anymore. Slowly, but surely, big media outlets like the ABC affiliate, 7News, and as of this weekend, the Denver Post, are joining the side of Complete Colorado. Fox 31 and CBS4, who had an executive talk to Westword about their holding back on the story, are now looking lonelier and lonelier on their side of the issue.
This story has now developed a second ugly head. Not just the ugly head of political cover-ups and lies, but media cover-ups in the form of quid pro quos with politicians. In the Friday press conference with Hancock it came out in the open that a deal was made between the Denver Post and the Hancock campaign to hold the story until after the election.
Now that Hancock has gone back on his pledge that allowed the story to be pushed until after his election, there is blood in the water. He has chummed the story, basically begging every media outlet and investigative reporter to prove him wrong. That is never a place a new mayor wants to be before they even take office.
The Michael Isikoff of the Hancock story, Debra Sherman from 9News, who had this story first, still hasn't unloaded what is rumored to be a treasure trove of information. If and when she does, Hancock could be cooked. Just as there were great journalists digging into the Lewinsky story, there are hard-hitting and top-knotch journalists invested in their work on this story. We should be thankful they still exist, and curse the powers-that-be who have held back their great work. We should also be thankful that there are forces in the media, like Todd Shepherd and Complete Colorado, who cannot be hamstrung by executives and high-priced lawyerly CYA, and push issues into the open.
Let it be said here first. Whereas the Drudge Report's breaking open of the Lewinsky scandal re-ordered the national media hierarchy, Complete Colorado has shaken the media fault lines of Colorado and they will never return to their previous formations.