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Matt Drudge and the Dissemination of Information on the Internet

By tewl in Op-Ed
Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 10:14:48 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

With the introduction of the Internet, information is much easier to obtain from the comfort of one's own home than going to the library and mulling over books. While the ease of being able to obtain information on the Internet is attractive, it is also very disturbing. Information has become more and more disseminated and harder to examine what is the truth on the Internet. Matt Drudge's use of the Internet to publish "inside information" is damaging to a civic society.

To understand Matt Drudge, one must first know his background. He grew up in a suburb of Washington DC where he got a taste of politics. He was a poor student in high school and did not go to college. He was at a dead end job at 7-11, so he moved to Los Angeles, where he began reading Variety, soon got a job at a CBS gift shop.

In the fall of 1994, his father bought him a computer and he soon became addicted to the new forms of communication it afforded. He then became a regular in chat rooms interested in show business and politics and he began posting tid-bits of information, some of which he had gathered from the trash at CBS.

By early 1995 his scoops had drawn a small following to which he emailed bulletins. He started the Drudge Report in April of that year and quit his job the following January. The Drudge Report was the first to reveal that Jerry Seinfeld was demanding $1 million an episode, Connie Chung had been fired from CBS, that NBC and Microsoft were forming MSNBC. (Brill's Content, November, 1998).

True, he has broken a few big stories, but he has also been wrong on enough to make him an untrustworthy source of information. The problem is: once Drudge's allegations, be they rumors or verified truth, are out in cyberspace, they could quickly pop up on a rival publication or competing network, or on an unsuspecting web surfers' computer screen as actual verifiable "news". This is damaging to the civic society in that Matt Drudge has no editor, he is his own editor, he prints anything that "stinks" on people, rarely checking his sources. The Internet allows him to spread these rumors to more people much more quickly. Drudge once said, "I have no editor. I can say whatever I want." (Newsweek, August 18, 1997). With the Internet, there are no deadlines to meet like print media or network news. He can and does pop on the web several times each day updating his "Drudge Report" with new bits of "information" he feels the general public needs to know about. "When a source feeds him something smelly, he doesn't pause to sniff- he publishes. The rationale seems to be that unchecked allegations are news simply because they are alleged." (Newsweek, February 16, 1998).

In July 1997, Drudge became the first to report on Kathleen Willey, who accused President Clinton of making a sex pass at her. She had been subpoenaed by Paula Jones' lawyers and threatened to undermine the President's credibility in the case. In the 12 hours after Drudge broke the story, he received 2600 visits to his website from White House staffers. Newsweek was still sitting on the story. By the next weekend, mainstream media finally started to report on Kathleen Willey, Drudge had forced the story out into the open with his website. (Brill's Content, November 1998). Newsweek was sitting on the story to double-check its sources. Matt Drudge simply caught wind of the Kathleen Willey story in its' infancy, still a rumor, and published it. He called this keeping the print media on their toes, but it is more like he was interfering with the reporting. Newsweek obviously had reasons not to publish the story right away, for one, it still being a rumor and to recheck it's sources. Yet again, this is damaging to the civic society in that the Internet makes it much easier to interfere with people whose profession is journalism, who have dedicated their lives to reporting for the general public, not someone who has no formal education who likes to spread rumors with the ease and quickness of the Internet.

Matt Drudge runs his news "operation" out of his $600 a month flat in old Hollywood, overlooking CNN and Capitol Records. He has 3 televisions, tuned into CNBC, CNN and C-SPAN, respectively, a Sony radio tuned to talk radio, an RCA Satellite Dish brining in European News, a police scanner looking for action, two computers linked to chat rooms, email, news wire services and the Internet. He has been described as a futurist using technology not available a few years ago. (Brill's Content, November 1998). For someone who is so anti old media, he sure likes to use them for information. "Though he thumbs his nose at traditional news outlets, they supply most of his information. His sources are inside the media, not (usually) inside the institutions they cover. His scoops . . . are generally stuff the grownups either have declined to publish or are about to publish. Having pilfered other folks' material, Drudge has the considerable gall to emblazon his own e-mail dispatches with the warning, WORLD EXCLUSIVE. MUST CREDIT THE DRUDGE REPORT." (Time Magazine, February 2, 1998). His style to rip off his "colleagues" and then call the information his own. Unlike the mainstream media, he can hop online at anytime he wants, update his Drudge Report website and email his subscribers with new rumors, passing them off as actual news.

The Drudge Report offers its readers 3 things: Matt's original reporting, much of it on politics, show business and media. Drudge culls the contents of major newspapers hours before they are published by tapping into their websites and getting tips from sources at the papers about future plans. Combining this information with his own material, Drudge updates his report several times a day, often posting headlines hours in advance of the papers. His reports are brief, often fragmentary. Exclamation marks and all-cap highlighting give it a tabloid feel. It also contains links to websites of dozens of newspapers, wire services and columnists, both highbrow and low. Drudge wants his readers to read a wide variety of original sources for themselves, with his readers functioning as their own editors. Drudge considers this an important service, a direct challenge to big media's control of news editing and dissemination. (Brill's Content, November 1998). Unfortunately for Matt, he lacks the credibility (and accuracy) of his "colleagues" to be taken seriously. His website draws many visitors, something he likes to brag about. Compared to other news sources, the Internet is still in its' infancy and still needs to prove itself in order to make it a trustworthy news source. Drudge claims that his stories are 80% accurate, this is just not good enough to rely on information for. (Time Magazine, February 2, 1998). The problem still arises that people that are new to websurfing may not know how to filter out what is rumor and speculation on the Internet from actual, proven, and trustworthy news.

Matt Drudge made his first big mistake in 1997. "White House aide and former journalist Sidney Blumenthal plans to file a multimillion-dollar libel suit this week against Internet gossip-monger Matt Drudge. Blumenthal's goal . . . is to set the record straight on allegations of spousal abuse that ran in the August 11th edition of the Net-based newsletter, the Drudge Report." (Newsweek, August 25, 1997). With the speed of the Internet, Matt Drudge was single-handedly able to turn this man's life upside down by simply reporting on a rumor. He said that the story was issued in good faith, based on 2 sources who were obviously operating on political motivation, someone who was trying to get him to go after the story and he bit, a case of using Drudge to broadcast dirty laundry, he believes he was set up. (Brill's Content, November 1998). Even if he was set up, he still never thought to check his sources, he simply reported on it. Journalism's purpose is to keep the public informed, but what Drudge does is more like keeping the public informed on the gossipy side of the news world. In fact, is what he reports on even "news"? He was also famously disproven when he claimed that a prostitute in Arkansas had given birth the President Clinton's love child. When the tables got turned on him and fellow gossip columnist Jeanette Walls reported on Drudge's past homosexual affairs, he did not take it very well, and wondered why anyone would go after him in the same way he relentlessly attacks anyone having to do with politics and showbusiness. (Los Angeles Times, March 20, 2000). He never seems to give a thought to turning other people's lives upside down based on malicious rumors often started by enemies, he publishes. Once it happened to him, he could not believe that something like this would be allowed. And yet, it is how Drudge makes his living, by exposing intimate details of other people's lives.

Matt Drudge broke one of the biggest news stories of 1998, the Monica Lewinsky fiasco. On Saturday, January 17th, 1998, Drudge learned that Newsweek had completed a story about Monica Lewinsky but was sitting on it. Drudge drafted a story of his own and called Lucianne Goldberg, a New York literary agent who encouraged Linda Tripp to record her conversations with Lewinsky, who then confirmed the story to Drudge. He then published it, saying how Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff had developed the story of his career, only to have it killed by the suits at Newsweek. (Brill's Content, November 1998). Again, Newsweek was sitting on a story in order to recheck their sources, only to be trumped by Matt Drudge and his willingness to publish anything that smells, even if it is just a rumor. He saw this as doing the general public justice, giving them a story that had was being withheld from them. In fact, it was being withheld in order to avoid a lawsuit similar to the one Drudge faced with Sidney Blumenthal. "Good journalism" does not just publish things on a whim, they need sources and they need to be checked. This is the way the civic society operates, giving the public news that has been checked for accuracy so that they are being fed correct information and can be better informed citizens.

Many people are skeptical of Matt Drudge, but that still doesn't prevent him getting enormous amounts of hits to his website and a 100,000+ following on his email tips list. The Internet has made it possible for his "news" stories to reach the general public. "He published malicious rumors as fact and, with the new-fangled speed of the Internet at his back, browbeat some insecure Old Media news organizations into repeating them. He hijacked scoops from other reporters. He boasted about his lack of education and his contempt for professional standards. So what if he got some stories wrong, prompting a major defamation suit?" (The New York Times, December 4, 1999). Once he has reported on the "news", published the story to his website and sent the update to his paying subscribers, the damage has been done. He has no one editing him but himself. He can say what he wants with the ease and speed of the Internet aiding him in slurring people at will based on rumors. This is extremely damaging to the society. Drudge is passing these rumors off as news, while noted news sources are checking their facts and for doing this, getting beat at their own game and having to go after stories attacking people simply because this rumor mongerer is putting the pressure on them to do so.

"In the following months Drudge published more explosive disclosures, some accurate, some wrong. He was right about the existence of Lewinsky's semen-stained dress, a claim that gave many mainstream editors a fit because it was at once so damning, if true, and so awkward to explain in family newspapers or on the early evening news." (The Times (London), December 10, 1999). Yet again this is damaging to society. Is this actually news or tabloid-ish rumors? This put mainstream editors in a tight spot; Matt Drudge was now forcing them to report on something that one would think would belong in the National Inquirer. It did turn out to be true, but is this something that should really be getting airtime on network news and front page reporting in the top newspapers? This is a direct threat to the profession of journalism. Matt Drudge single-handedly was forcing top news sources to report on news that dripped of tabloid-ish information. The public was now getting this type of information shoved down their throats simply because Matt Drudge felt it was his duty to "report" on the wrong doings of Washington bigwigs.

Even "mainstream" media sees this as a problem. "How he changed the press is self-evident. The elevation of rumor and gossip to news is now ubiquitous in mainstream media; few except professional worrywarts bother to complain any more. No Internet impetus is needed when both TV and print routinely recycle intimations of alleged drug use by George W. Bush without any sourcing (or accusers), and embroider any gun massacre (workplace or school) or celebrity death (such as John Kennedy Jr.'s) with spectacularly entertaining theories before there are facts. We're so inured to speculation in the name of news that it's become a constant white noise." (The New York Times, December 4, 1999). That is what news is becoming now- speculation before facts. Matt Drudge started the downward spiral of this style of reporting, but having easy access to rumor information (receiving email tips) and then publishing it on the Internet from the comfort of his home. He sees himself as doing a service to the general public, when actually, he is destroying the credibility of the journalism profession. He publishes rumors, innuendo and speculation, without editing, and passes it off to the public as news they need to know- "DRUDGE REPORT EXCLUSIVE" is often the first thing one sees when logged on to his website.

He sees his style of reporting as an alternative to corporate media that is becoming more and more concentrated with each new merger.

"There's a difference of raison d'Ítre, of course, between and the established organizations. They would claim a seriousness of purpose to which he doesn't always pledge allegiance. Nonetheless, the Drudge Report's significance lies not in its flaws but in the elemental questions it thrusts at contemporary journalism. Is media power too concentrated? Is news disseminated by too few elite sources? Matt Drudge answers a rude "yes." And the Drudge Report foreshadows the role of the Internet as a new and different journalistic medium-and as a catalyst of broader trends in America toward democratization and devolution of the power of big institutions, especially in the media worlds of New York and Washington. In that sense, Drudge can be seen as a modern Tom Paine, a possible precursor to millions of town criers using the Internet to invade the turf of bigfoot journalists." (Brill's Content, November 1998).

The problem herein is that Drudge rarely checks his sources, he simply publishes, and deals with the consequences after the fact. Once his stories are out in the open, the damage is done. Whether or not people take him seriously or see him as an alternative to mainstream media, he still needs to improve his accuracy before people such as scholars will ever see him as anything but a rumor mongerer.

Last December, Al Gore was blasted for his response (or lack there of) to questioning from a voter in a Derry, New Hampshire town meeting about Juanita Broaddrick's accusation that President Clinton sexually assaulted her. The GOP took immediate action and faxed the exchange all over the news world. Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh and Fox were all interested in the story, while Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and Peter Jennings were not. (The Washington Post, December 17, 1999). Matt Drudge took this as another sign that he was doing justice to the American people by reporting on something that only he and his "esteemed" colleagues would report on while being shunned by mainstream media. What he didn't realize that the very reason they weren't reporting on this is that it was based on un-substantiated claims. It had not had the time to take the course of a regular news story. Instead, once again, Matt Drudge treated it as a piece of news, without checking into sources and the claims. The story smelled and he published it. This is another example of dissemination of information on the Internet. He once again published rumors as fact, reaching a large audience of people who he says are their own editors, but the Internet makes it harder and harder for readers to determine what is fact and what is rumor.

Even if Matt Drudge has been right about several big news stories: Kathleen Willey, Lewinsky, the Dress, he still will not be taken seriously by mainstream media until he improves his track record. The problem is that he uses the Internet to his advantage, publishing rumors and gossip as news. The unsuspecting web surfer can stumble upon his website and see his Drudge Report and take his reporting for fact. The Internet has made gossip and rumors as news possible. Unlike mainstream media, there are no editors in cyberspace. Internet reporters like Drudge can and do say what they want. In an era where the public is already very cautious and grows increasingly annoyed with the antics of mainstream media, Drudge is doing them no service. He publishes anything and stinks and adds to the public's discontent with journalists. The Internet has allowed for this to happen, to let gossip become news and is a threat to the society as a whole in that society has begun to distrust media and will seek new forms of news.


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Matt Drudge is a/an:
o Journalist 18%
o Rumour-mongerer 49%
o idiot 33%

Votes: 100
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Matt Drudge and the Dissemination of Information on the Internet | 91 comments (77 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Tabloids (3.50 / 14) (#1)
by theboz on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 03:40:38 PM EST

If the drudge reports are as unreliable as you say, then it is no different than a tabloid like the World Weekly News or the National Enquirer. There are "credible" news sources that people go to in real life just as on the internet. My opinion is that these news sources are not all that credible either, but the majority believes they are so I will leave that for another discussion. People get their news from CNN, NBC, New York Times, etc. which all have a strong presence on the web as well. If someone from CNN gets ahold of info from the Drudge reports, makes an article out of it, the editor approves, and it becomes a headline on CNN...and then if it turns out to be not true, that is more of a problem with the process CNN uses rather than some guy running his own website and bringing up rumors like this. Most of the people I know that have heard of the Drudge reports think that anything he says should be taken with a bucket of salt.

So I say, let him be...if people want to believe him, that's their problem.


Bat Boy Fathers Giant Taco! (2.66 / 6) (#3)
by edibiase on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 04:00:34 PM EST

If the drudge reports are as unreliable as you say, then it is no different than a tabloid like the World Weekly News or the National Enquirer. There are "credible" news sources that people go to in real life just as on the internet ... the majority believes they are [credible]...

Weekly World News and the National Enquirer are seen as credible news sources by the majority of people? You've got to be kidding me!

The day that the majority of humans on this planet feel that a story about a man-eating toilet is credible, I'll know that it's time to pack things up and ship out to Mars.

[ Parent ]

Read carefully. (4.00 / 4) (#6)
by ZanThrax on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 04:28:04 PM EST

...National Enquirer. There are "credible...
Notice the period, and the use of "there", not "they're" at the beginning of the next sentence. He didn't write what you read.

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

It's ambiguous, I tell you! (3.14 / 7) (#20)
by edibiase on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 06:07:42 PM EST

Notice the period, and the use of "there", not "they're" at the beginning of the next sentence. He didn't write what you read.

OK, so on a third glance it looks like you're probably right. But I still would say that "If the drudge reports are as unreliable as you say, then it is no different than a tabloid like the World Weekly News or the National Enquirer. There are "credible" news sources that people go to in real life just as on the internet," is fairly ambiguous; some better paragraphing would have helped here. This is similar to me saying, "I've read some of Daniel Quinn's work. Not all 'new age' books are crap." These two sentences mean do two things:

  1. I've read some of Daniel Quinn's work
  2. Not all "new age" books are crap
  1. I've read some of Daniel Quinn's work, and they're not crap like some "new age" books

It's all in the paragraphing, I tell you! ALL IN THE PARAGRAPHING!

It's tough defending a misread, but I think I actually managed! ;-)

[ Parent ]

Proper English (5.00 / 1) (#91)
by theboz on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:00:32 PM EST

It is difficult for me to express myself in English. Yes, I'm from the U.S., but I get confused with Spanish frequently, which reverses sentences from the way English is structured. I did mean that the tabloids are not credible, and that there are other sources like CNN and such that are supposedly more reliable. Sorry for the confusion.

[ Parent ]

Heh. (2.25 / 4) (#33)
by simmons75 on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 10:06:01 PM EST

Guess you got tripped up on the word "believes".
So there.

[ Parent ]
My take on the issues... (3.71 / 14) (#4)
by Miniluv on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 04:10:17 PM EST

I've never been a fan of the Drudge Report or Matt Drudge's apparent ethos, but not because of the effect it has on print and television journalism. The problem I have with Matt Drudge is that from all appearances, he's in it to make people's lives uncomfortable. I'm not a fan of negative reporting merely for the sake of attacking public figures, instead I prefer reporting that is focused on facts and if they happen to cast someone in a negative light, so be it.

The reason Matt Drudge is affecting the way television and print journalism report is because they're letting him. The public already has a degree of skepticism about the networks reporting things quickly, a lot of the adult population remembers Watergate and all the things that happened regarding the media back then. I would like to see respectable organizations such as CNN respond to the seedier networks, like Fox, by saying they've heard the same story but that as far as they can tell at that point it's still just a rumor. I, and many like me I'm sure, would look at CNN and see stand-up journalism and sneer at Fox and their attempt to grab ratings through sensational, and often non-factual, journalism.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

Damaging maybe, but so what? (3.00 / 11) (#5)
by nd on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 04:23:30 PM EST

I understand your sentiments, but I don't think Drudge is necessarily evil or that anything should be done to stop him. Should he be required to have an editor? Should he be sued for posting false information? I don't know much about slander laws, but I think society will take care of itself.

You do mention that people are skeptical of Drudge, which in my opinion is proof of society taking care of itself. That's exactly how it should work -- you post misinformation, and you lose credibility as a source. If he cares about credibility, maybe he'll hire an editor. If he cares about breaking stories and preventing mainstream media from hiding scandals, and maybe getting page hits at the same time, then maybe he should continue to do what he does.

Pfft (3.52 / 19) (#7)
by loner on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 04:33:15 PM EST

Saying Drudge "interferes" with journalists is like me, as a programmer/Analyst, saying that non-programmers writing Javascript and VisualBasic programs interfere with my job. Amateurs can write little VB programs (however useful they are) as much as they want, when large companies want to write serious applications they hire professional programmers (not that we all know what we're doing!).

You say that Drudge has forced the new media and "journalists" to play his game, and that "This put mainstream editors in a tight spot; Matt Drudge was now forcing them to report on something that one would think would belong in the National Inquirer." But I believe this is a really skewed way of looking at things.

Most professional programmers don't go around writing code without checking for exceptions and errors because their mom wrote a Word macro for herself and her friends, and she doesn't check for errors in that!

Matt Drudge didn't force the media to become sleazy, greed did. The journalists saw that Drudge was stealing their audience (and their money), and instead of sticking with their own standards and ethics, decided to give in and play Drudge's game in the hopes of getting back their revenue streams.

There is really nothing new here: it's yet another quality vs quantity trade-off. The news media had the choice of sticking to their own quality work, reporting what they thought was right, when they thought was right, and only that. But they saw that such a way didn't make them money, publishing sex-scandals and "two killed in car accident, blood and gore at 11" did.

I get this all the time. My boss says "but I wrote a VB program that does a similar thing in a couple of hours, how come you need a month to do the same thing?" To which I respond "yes but does your program continue if I type in a -1 where you expect a number between 1 and 7? And if you don't like the way I work, fine fire me, I'd rather sit at home than write crappy code."

Sorry pal, but Drudge didn't force these so-called journalists into anything, neither did the internet, greed did.

And your conclusion is waaaay wrong. You say: "The Internet has allowed for this to happen, to let gossip become news and is a threat to the society as a whole in that society has begun to distrust media and will seek new forms of news." Nope, nope, nope. You've given us one example, and one only: Matt Drudge. Matt Drudge is not the internet, and the internet is not solely represented by Drudge. If you want this conclusion to be at all credible, you must give us more than this one example, and include at least one counter-example. No reasonable person would believe that every single website on the internet is bad for the media.

Pffft yourself (2.90 / 11) (#13)
by Anna Marie on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 05:04:52 PM EST

You wrote: "And your conclusion is waaaay wrong. You say: "The Internet has allowed .... and will seek new forms of news." Nope, nope, nope. You've given us one example, and one only: Matt Drudge. Matt Drudge is not the internet, and the internet is not solely represented by Drudge. If you want this conclusion to be at all credible, you must give us more than this one example, and include at least one counter-example. No reasonable person would believe that every single website on the internet is bad for the media."

The title of the op-ed piece was "Matt Drudge and the Dissemination of Information on the Internet". It was meant to focus on Matt Drudge, not the internet as a whole. It's about Matt Drudge's tactics as a "journalist". Did you even read the same article I did?

[ Parent ]
the conclusion (3.28 / 7) (#19)
by loner on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 06:05:13 PM EST

It was meant to focus on Matt Drudge, not the internet as a whole.

Then it should not conclude with a statement related to the internet in general. I completely agree with you, the article was all about Drudge. But the last sentence implies that all this is to be blamed on the internet, and not Drudge himself. And that's just plain wrong.

Read the last sentence again: "The Internet has allowed for this to happen, to let gossip become news..." This idea is repeated again in the middle of the last paragraph. If the article is only about Drudge, why make such general statements about the internet? And, as others have mentioned, if the internet didn't exist, would gossip never have become news?

So yes I agree with you. I didn't read the same article as you did. I read and commented about this one.

[ Parent ]

It's called muckraking (3.40 / 22) (#9)
by Wah on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 04:38:43 PM EST

and has been going on for over a hundred years. The idea is to sift through all the crap looking for the nuggets of interest, focusing on personal attacks and missteps. Here's a book about this very conundrum. To think that Drudge invented it, or in some way has influenced the mass media to do more of it is laughable. What he did was bring it into the new millenium using the new tech. One person, one apartment, worldwide audience.

What I don't see in this write-up is how Drudge got fired from major network TV for picking subjects his bosses didn't approve of. Rather than change his style or opinions (I believe the camel back breaker was an abortion story) he stuck with his guns and got fired.

I think a more interesting slant would be the "no-editor" side of internet reporting. For places like /. and k5, the unwashed masses serve that purpose. I can't count the number of times that the comments for a story have clarified a mistake or outright falsehood the "editor" chose to include with a story or link. Druge has no such benefit, and as such, gets to stay pretty hardcore.

I also think the lesson here is not that Drudge is a bad guy, but you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, need to be critical of information you find on the Net. The other recent submission for the Troll Psychological Analysis, illustrates this precisely.
Fail to Obey?

Be critical anyhow (3.50 / 6) (#35)
by pb on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 02:50:20 AM EST

I think there's nothing wrong with reporting rumors as long as people know they're just rumors. I wouldn't have tried to publish my abortion story as fact in a newspaper yet, but I'd want it researched. In fact, that's what annoyed me about it in the first place.

People like Drudge exist so that these stories get researched and reported. Consider it another check in a system of checks and balances. And you're right, K5 is even better: you can get more facts and opinions about a story first, which the traditional "Letters to the Editor" and Erratta in newspapers don't address nearly as quickly...

I can understand why "The Media" would distrust the Internet, but I also think that Drudge provides a valuable service, especially for those of us who distrust "The Media". If people want to listen to rumors or post them, they can. I wouldn't call it Journalism, but that's probably how it all starts these days. Some people see it there, talk about it, check it out, and lo and behold, it's on CNN three weeks later as "Breaking News". Otherwise, maybe it would have gotten buried by an editor or a high-powered politician or something.
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

don't get me wrong... (none / 0) (#79)
by Wah on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 07:47:31 PM EST

but I'm not a big fan of the traditional media, either.

I agree, it's fun the watch a kind of "changing of the guard", although, to be honest, i don't know that many people if RL that use the net for alternative news. I'm not sure how long that will take, of if there is even that much of a demand for it. We'll see.
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

sigh.... (2.68 / 19) (#10)
by gregholmes on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 04:39:11 PM EST

The reason lefties don't like Drudge is simple - he told the truth about Clinton. Unlike our "objective" news anchors, he told it like it is - and he was right.

They are angry at Drudge, not the felonious chief executive of the leading democracy. Sad.

You Mean Bush, Sr.? (3.00 / 14) (#11)
by eskimo on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 04:50:52 PM EST

Or Reagan? Or Ford? Or Nixon? Or Johnson? Kennedy?

Implying that Bill Clinton invented fellatio, or even invented the concept of lying about fellatio, or the concept of lying in Washington has made my day.

My day was like, 'Elf is about to die. Elf needs misguided conservative cynicism.' What a breath of fresh air. Oh, there's a rainbow. Gotta go.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

leading democracy (2.12 / 8) (#40)
by kpeerless on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 08:34:09 AM EST

What's sad is that you seem to think that the US is leading anything, or anybody, anywhere. Spare us your arrogance.

[ Parent ]
spare me your attitude (2.14 / 7) (#42)
by gregholmes on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 10:34:19 AM EST

I'm quite well travelled, thanks to the odd fact that my un-leading country has a military presence all over the world, and pays for everyone elses's defense in money and blood. I had a great time, and enjoyed meeting all sorts of people.

What I noticed though, was that they emulated us, not the other way around. That may be an uncomfortable fact, but it is a fact. Sorry you don't like it.

You might try leading, instead of whining, if you are envious.

[ Parent ]
OK, that was a bit harsh ;) (2.00 / 3) (#62)
by gregholmes on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 06:03:27 AM EST

Wow, reading my own comment the morning after ...

Just remember, in the original post, I merely used one word (leading) that set you off.

But seriously, rather that reflexively posting all these "US-centric" complaints, make your country the center of attention. Develop technology, entertainment, political systems, etc., etc. that the rest of the world emulates. Then you can listen to everyone complain that the news is {your-country}-centric :)

[ Parent ]
Telling it like it is (3.83 / 6) (#46)
by The Welcome Rain on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 01:27:55 PM EST

While Mr. Drudge may have leaked accurate information about the Clintons, that does not equate to him telling it like it is, or even telling it at all. He claims to be nothing more than a conduit, that he defers the responsibility for checking facts to the reader -- very well. He's nothing but a pipe. He can't claim to be correct, because he didn't do anything.

If he disclaims responsibility for the things his column gets wrong, he can't take credit for the things his column gets right.

[ Parent ]

Four points = one rant :) (3.00 / 27) (#15)
by daystar on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 05:14:17 PM EST

1) I'm always suspicious of anit-drudge people, because they're generally just upset that he broke so many stories that were damaging to Clinton. I think if he had been ripping Newt Gingrich that badly, you might have a different opinion. THat means you oppose his journalism on the basis of CONTENT, and that means you are a would-be censor.

2) Journalists have invented a profession that amounts to "repeating things I've heard". Schools of journalism teach things like where to put the pad of paper so you can write good on it. I do not believe that there is a journalist out there who could get a technical degree if their life depended on it. They, like 7-11 attendants, do the jobs that intelligent people don't have the patience for. I'm glad they're THERE, but it gets irritating when they start pretending that they're worthy of respect. THey rank somewhere in between car mechanics and dry cleaners on my scale.

3) "Damage to society" is a pretty subjective term. You can not show any damage that didn't exist before Drudge showed up. "Damage to Sidney Blumenthal" is another subject. Of course, as an american, I believe that freedom of speech trumps "social damage" any day of the week.

4) Information from anonymous sources is always suspect. If Matt Drudge makes our culture understand that, then he's contributed more to history than a thousand Dan Rathers.

There is no God, and I am his prophet.
Four points taken (3.75 / 4) (#39)
by stinkwrinkle on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 06:26:19 AM EST

1) You lost the hypothetical somewhere in there. He might be a Clinton-lover, but you sure didn't prove it; you just assumed he opposed Drudge on content.

2) Journalists did this to themselves. Are there good ones? Maybe. Most are like Drudge to some degree. I think they reason they disparage Drudge is that he never "paid his dues." He just set up shop and started pumping crap. This has to annoy journalists who had to work their way up to pumping crap to a national audience.

3) As an American, I'd say the whole point of freedom of speech is to prevent social damage, not to trump it.

4) Well said! People of a certain age, who grew up with a controlled media, tend to believe what they read, even when they know better.

[ Parent ]
trolls (3.16 / 12) (#17)
by radar bunny on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 05:31:32 PM EST

He said that the story was issued in good faith, based on 2 sources who were obviously operating on political motivation, someone who was trying to get him to go after the story and he bit, a case of using Drudge to broadcast dirty laundry, he believes he was set up

Just think what a few clever trolls could do with someone like Matt Drudge if they felt so inclined? I mean if he's that willing to post just anything than I'm sure he will most certainly be set up again.

More to the point, how longwill it be before a few news organizations get tired of him stealing their stories and set him up themselves.

Then a thought just occured--- what if these news agencies are the ones leaking the stories to him themselves. Suppose they have this story but are afraid to print it. Who's to say they aren't leaking it to Drudge just to get it out there, then they can just follow up. After all, he's the one who broke it.

Yellow Journalism (4.50 / 24) (#26)
by rusty on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 07:42:29 PM EST

"You provide the pretty pictures, I'll provide the war."
--Citizen Kane (1941)
"They say the next big thing is here, that the revolution's near, but to me it seems quite clear, that it's all just a little bit of history repeating."
--The Propellerheads, "History Repeating"
The first above quote comes from Orson Welles' brilliant fictionalized bio of probably the most famous "yellow journalist" of all time, William Randolph Hearst. Sufficient evidence, I think, that this is not a problem that's unique to the net. Hearst, to gain circulation for his papers, was famous for inventing and precipitating news, and getting the scoop before anyone else. The "traditional media" at the time was of course outraged by such tactics, but faced a difficult bind, since they had to compete to make money.

Flash forward to today, and the net is now the target of the "traditional" media (who are now, as a matter of course, far more sensationalistic that Hearst ever was) and their cries of yellow journalism. It is indeed history repeating. I would argue that the issue at hand here is not unique to the 'net, but is a result of news being a commercial enterprise. Competition for readers and advertisers doesn't always encourage truthfulness in the short view. In the long run, reliability will sell papers, but that's not always obvious on the monthly balance sheets.

However, the main argument here is that Matt Drudge (and presumably by extension all yellow journalism) is damaging to the smooth operation of civic society. The thesis is asserted several times, but remains the most weakly supported part of this essay. It's unclear how exactly society is damaged by rumor-mongering. Is it because we should leave people's dirty laundry in the hamper where it belongs? Should we have unyielding respect for people in important positions, and should this respect trump any possibility that society as a whole would be improved by their exposure? Or is it harmful because we should be able to have complete faith in our news sources?

I would argue, to the contrary, that Drudge, and his ilk, play an important role in the mediasphere. Would the Clinton-Lewinski scandal have ever come to light if Drudge hadn't forced the story out? For all the sleaze that the last presidential term put us through, I think we may, as a nation, be better for it. The age of God-Kings is over, ever since Nixon, and I say good riddance. I would rather that we saw our leaders with open eyes, instead of the dazzled soft-focus that, for example, the Kennedy dynasty remains shielded by. Just imagine if Matt Drudge had been around during JFK's administration.

The thing to recognize is that there are categories of media. I don't know anyone who puts the Drudge Report on the same level of credibility as The Wall St. Journal. Oh, of course there are such people, but there always are. Most people are fully capable of recognizing shades of reliability in their media.

We have today a historically unparalleled range of information to choose from. But imagine if the internet wasn't around to provide cheap and easy distribution to the ordinary people. If that were the case, almost all of our access to news would be under the wing of one or two companies. Trace the tangled nest of media ownership, and you find that Time-Warner and Disney own almost everything. I, for one, am glad that there are alternative sources of information, and that they can, at times, goad the traditional media into covering something that they may normally have kept to themselves.

The important thing is that there is choice, and that people have the ability to think for themselves. If either of these things is removed, civic society suffers. Totalitarian states always take control of the media first, to ensure that there is no choice in your sources of information. An uninformed populace is usually a complacent populace. The other important factor, critical thinking, is not as easy to ensure, but also much more difficult to prevent in those who exercise it.

So the real dangers come when we either don't have the Matt Drudges (or the Slashdots or even the K5s) pushing at the edges of the media, or when people become unable to think for themselves, and take everything they read at equal value. I don't think the second situation is any more common now than it was a hundred, two hundred, or a thousand years ago. If anything, I suspect that the wider range of options today has made us more critical of what we read. And the first situation is obviously not the case either.

It may be more difficult to decide today what is right, and what the course of society ought to be. But this, I think, is a benefit, not a hampering of civic society. No one knows what the future will be, and to charge blindly into it with both eyes closed would be the worst possible course. I would much rather see us groping hesitantly forward in the dark, but with both eyes wide open.

Not the real rusty

as long as Matt Drudge is untrustworthy (2.60 / 5) (#48)
by kei on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 04:27:45 PM EST

I think a problem with the idea that more Matt Drudges might encourage, for lack of a better term, a more democratic approach to information distribution (away from the monopolistic media titans) is that, as long as these Matt Drudge-ish people seek to "push at the edges of media," they will remain uncredible enough that most people wouldn't be able to distinguish between what's legit and what isn't.

Take for example the Clinton controversies brought up in this article. What made Drudge's allegations true? The media itself. It looks to me like there was no credibility to his statements until traditional media backed him up. As long as he relies on traditional media to give him credibility, he's nothing more than an early-warning system that generates random output (and thus is sometimes right, but when do you know?).

You can have independent news sources without the "yellow journalism," and you can have news without Matt Drudge. He is simply exploiting the naivete that surrounds the Internet, and sooner or later the reasonable ones in his audience will desert him.
"[An] infinite number of monkeys typing into GNU emacs would never make a good program."
- /usr/src/linux/Documentation/CodingStyle
[ Parent ]

not *more* per se... (3.60 / 5) (#52)
by rusty on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 07:06:15 PM EST

I don't think there should be more Matt Drudges, just that he plays a role in the spectrum of media. That role has always been around, he just happens to be it's most recognizable occupant right now. It's the role of "thorn". He completely needs the real media to back him up, no argument there. But they need him too, to keep from becoming complacent and complicit with those they are supposed to be reporting on.

You can have independent news sources without the "yellow journalism," and you can have news without Matt Drudge.

Of course independent news does't have to be yellow. But I very much doubt we'll ever have news without a Matt Drudge in one form or another. People like gossip, so there'll always be someone around to fill the need. And some gossip turns out to be true, thereby becoming news. I don't think this really has anything much to do with the internet-- it's the nature of the news.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Ironic (4.00 / 20) (#30)
by BoredByPolitics on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 08:38:21 PM EST

I realize that this was posted to Op-Ed, however, it is ironic that a piece about accurate news reporting should contain so much evident spin and bias (my interpretation).

Although I'd not come across Drudge before your piece, the little I did pick up from your article about him leads me to think he is most definately providing a service. The information he is providing is no less valid for being possibly inaccurate - consider games we humans play where decisions are made in the knowledge that the information we're acting on may be false, Bridge and Poker come to mind.

I consider variety of sources for information imperitive in ensuring I can form a balanced view, mainly because of the spin and bias that anyone will put on their article when reporting a news story.

This article will be getting a +1 from me because I hope it will generate interesting debate on many connected issues - for instance, how much were the events after the recent US election influenced by certain news outlets over zealous reporting of ballot results?


"Every contract has a sanity clause", "Sanity clause! Sanity clause! You can't fool me, there's no such thing as Sanity Claus"

Hypocrisy (3.66 / 24) (#31)
by Beorn on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 09:33:42 PM EST

Don't be silly. In what mysterious alternative universe is news media ever reliable? I notice *countless* mistakes in news reporting on subjects I know much about. I can only imagine how unreliable these media are on subjects of which I know very little.

The Drudge Report is one of my main news sources for american politics. It is of course no more reliable than any other media, (in fact 95% of the content is from other media), but the real tragedy here is not the fact that Drudge is openly biased, and has printed an occasional false rumour, but that other media are just as bad, and are still trusted.

For print and TV media to single out Drudge as unreliable is hypocrisy. You should never assume anything to be true just because a journalist writes it. Not even somebody with high journalistic standards, as I believe Matt Drudge has.

I think news reporting on the internet has several advantages over print and TV. The high level of entry on print and TV has very negative effects on the diversity and honesty of news reporting. The world-view of a small elite of journalists becomes the official World. These are ordinary people with no exceptional abilities beyond the size of their egos.

The internet is an uncensored broadcast of the human mind, and it is a perfect tool for revealing what is actually happening, not because everything you see is true, but because you can see everything. The internet gives more power to you and me, less power to print and TV journalists. No wonder they're panicking.

(Editorial note: you should have made your article shorter. Repeating and rephrasing a sentence doesn't make it more true, it only scares away readers. This is the web, not a book, and thank God for that.)

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Hrm. (2.14 / 14) (#32)
by simmons75 on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 10:04:16 PM EST

If you took out some of the fluff and flamebait, I'd be happy to vote +1. Then again, it's going to "make it" without my vote :-) That's why I made this a topical comment instead of an editorial comment.

Please, oh please, people, don't start dumping school papers on k5--I may be forced to dump my 30-page paper on international & transnational advertising campaigns here. ;-)
So there.

I for one (none / 0) (#70)
by Spendocrat on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 11:14:40 AM EST

Would like to read a paper like that. Do you have it linked somewhere?

[ Parent ]
No, sorry. (1.00 / 1) (#72)
by simmons75 on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 12:19:30 PM EST

It's actually not that great of a paper. I had to cut mountains of information. I might do a summary of the paper here. Unlike most the people in that class, I was actually interested in the subject. :-)
So there.

[ Parent ]
Wait... (2.72 / 11) (#34)
by Tr3534 on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 11:16:18 PM EST

... I honestly haven't heard of Matt Drudge, so how do i know that YOU aren't publishing unsubstatiated rumours?

Anyway, my real comment: The 'net is in a transition state at the moment, and things will sort themselves out eventually. It'll regulate itself. People will eventually take things a based on reputation: people that haven't heard of this person's carelessness might be screwed, but sooner or later the majority of the people will take him and those like him for what he's worth. Need proof? Look at the tabloids. Many people read them, but does ANYONE take them seriously? Do we have problems because people sometimes do?

Off-topic sidenote: the article is a little redundant, chop off the excess next time, please.

Sigmentation Fault: Post Dumped.
Underground Newspapers (3.60 / 10) (#36)
by CAIMLAS on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 02:58:32 AM EST

This sounds very similar to the underground newspapers of yester-year, which would often dig up information on politicians, people of office, and celebrities. Sure, they may not have been in good taste, and quite possibly wrong in many cases, but they were indeed exposing things that would not otherwise get exposed - scandals which were more than likely, but did not have exactly enough evidence to release information on. People enjoy gossip - it's just like the wide spread tabloids. Sure, Drudge Report gives digital reporting a bad name, but just as tabloids give 'normal' reporting a bad name.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

tewl and the Dissemination of Info on Kuro5hin.org (2.92 / 25) (#37)
by shellac on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 03:49:06 AM EST

This article is insulting to the intelligence of the k5 reader. Tewl spends all this time telling us something we already know, that drudge's stories might be (*gasp*) inaccurate, but does not prove his central thesis, that it is somehow damaging to society.

I found tewl's article to be repetitive, hearing the same sentences over and over, something about this guy being editorless and how he is damaging to society or some BS like that. And then some ridiculous railing on about how journalist's who have had a real education are more worthy of having a job than this guy. On top of that multiple references to FUD articles from major media sources. I'm sorry, I have no respect for someone who quotes Time magazine and Newsweek multiple times in an article. Am i supposed to respect that? I almost laughed out loud. You fucking loser.

The fact of the matter is that drudge IS a rumormonger. But he has demonstrated that there is a legitimate market demand for rumors. Even though they may not be true, people want to know what is in the trashcan at CBS, and while I don't know if any surveys have been taken about this topic, I feel that most visitors to drudgereport know what they are getting into. The info is sketchy, but that's what people wnat from that site. They know it is not "real" news. Drudge's site is no more damaging to society than the national enquirer is.

Ouch (4.33 / 6) (#41)
by rusty on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 08:39:18 AM EST

You fucking loser.

A jolting scar in an otherwise pretty coherent comment. Please leave the personal invective at home. You could have made all of your points without this one insult, and they would have held a lot more water, for me at least.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Apologies to tewl (4.66 / 3) (#44)
by shellac on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 12:57:53 PM EST

Apologies are in order. My message was written in the heat of the moment, and I as I look back on my post, I think it was probably too strongly worded. I should have waited before posting.

Sorry man.

[ Parent ]
Don't worry about it (3.50 / 2) (#49)
by tewl on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 05:29:57 PM EST

It should actually be "sorry woman, but no problem :) You made some great points, thanks for the input.

[ Parent ]
Sources? (4.00 / 5) (#43)
by Lord Kano on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 11:06:14 AM EST

I'm missing your point...why is quoting Time and Newsweek not ok?

This sounds like a paper written for a class, who was tewl supposed to quote, that National Enquirer or Weekly World News?

And please, I find your infantile name calling insulting the intelligence of k5 readers....

[ Parent ]
Re: Sources? (2.00 / 4) (#59)
by shellac on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 11:29:18 PM EST

Well explaining why i think newsweek and time suck could be a whole story in of itself. But I will brief here and summarize it in a few points:

  • Editors of these magazines have a definite interest in seeing somebody like drudge fail at what he does. In fact some of them probably feel personally screwed over by him.
  • Time and newsweek are dumbed down mass media mags and are interested more in popular appeal than a good study of the problem. I found the quotes from Brill's Content, a publication specifically about the media, more interesting.
  • They do not provide a balanced view. They have a definite corporate bias both in choosing the stories they wish to run and the angle they present on the stories.

I would have liked to see tewl use more stuff like Brill's Content. Here are some similar publications. I don't know that it was a HS paper or not. In fact it doesn't matter to me. I am just judging it as a k5 story, not a HS paper.


[ Parent ]

De omnibus dubitandum est. (3.37 / 16) (#38)
by thePositron on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 05:55:15 AM EST

De omnibus dubitandum est.
Everything must be doubted.

Sure, anything said in latin sounds profound. (2.50 / 2) (#73)
by Minuit on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 12:54:14 PM EST

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

Quis custodiet ipsos gap commercials?

If you were my .sig, you would be home by now.
[ Parent ]

It's the fundamental premise of .... (none / 0) (#81)
by thePositron on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 09:07:11 PM EST

Doubting everything is the fundamental basis of Cartesian thought and philosophy. I have found it to be helpful throughout my life in sorting out truth from fiction.
To be honest though it has been a quite difficult to apply in all aspects of my life.

[ Parent ]
Additionally.. (none / 0) (#82)
by thePositron on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 09:10:10 PM EST

Additionally it sums up how to approach people like MAtt Drudge. I am to busy and lazy to post anything more in depth.

[ Parent ]
Drudge = Tabloid Journalism (3.72 / 11) (#45)
by lucas on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 01:13:39 PM EST

I thought this article was interesting as sort of a history of Matt Drudge, but I'm not sure what the difference between Matt Drudge and tabloid journalism is. The only difference I can detect is that Drudge's stories can't be found in a supermarket checkout line. Certainly, if Drudge's style of reporting were damaging to society, the damage would have already been done by the Enquirer and the Globe.

Quite honestly, I'm not even convinced that other news sources are much better than Drudge... CBS, NBC, or ABC. They might do a little bit of work on the topic, but it's definitely not balanced or objective.

Accuracy of the major media (3.33 / 3) (#47)
by The Welcome Rain on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 02:05:31 PM EST

Your assessment of the major media and their lack of dedication to accuracy is powerfully supported by the success of Joey Skaggs, a prank artist whose previous hoaxes include:

  • posing as a Native American doctor who offers scalp transplants
  • pretending to offer a service to sell unwanted dogs to Korean restaurants
  • driving a portable confession booth around New York City

and many others. In all cases his hoaxes received uncritical coverage by various media; in many cases the dupes did not offer a retraction when Skaggs exposed the pranks.

The major media get awfully stuffy about their reputations, but they're really not that great. This doesn't excuse Matt Drudge, but it does condemn the pretensions of people who should damn well know better.

[ Parent ]

You give the mainstream media too much credit (3.63 / 11) (#50)
by Friendless on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 06:43:57 PM EST

Drudge is only a little less reliable than the mainstream media, who are in general a bunch of hired mouths. The National Enquirer is a classic example, but people know not to take it seriously. There are less obviously shonky papers with equally shonky news. If you care about your news, you will get it from the WSJ and the Washington Post (or in my case, the Australian Financial Review). There is good journalism and bad journalism, and most people want the bad stuff. Serves them right.

News (3.12 / 8) (#51)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 06:50:27 PM EST

I'm no big fan of Matt Drudge, but I do not think pointing out his unreliability, or the fact that, to some extent, what he does is made possible by the internet, is telling anyone anything they did not know. The 'reliable' media know this as well as anyone else and do not recycle his stuff until they verify it.

The traditional media are no paragons of impartial virtue themselves. Different papers sell into different markets were the readership have different preferences. Some (like the National Enquirer, or Britain's Sport) do not claim accuracy, merely entertainment. Others provide prepackaged news and rumors for the general public (the Sun, for instance). Others deliver impartial reporting and thoughtful editorial but inevitably tow the establishement line on almost everything. Unltimately, newspapers and TV stations exist to sell advertising and subscriptions. Sometimes those sales depend on the appearance of impartiality, sometimes the depend on providing what the readership want to hear.

However, since almost all papers pay lip service to the ideal of objectivity, people have developed a habit of regarding everything they read as sanctioned by some powerful organisation. This has been encouraged as the papers have had to defend almost everything they said in court. Although they inevitably skew what they present, the papers are usually truthful.

This is where the internet is challenging people's beliefs, and where Matt Drudge comes in. You can't believe what you read on the internet, as people paying 20 bucks a month for web hosting, or even less for a news feed, don't have any real need to stand by what they say. As far as I can see, this is inevitable. Its people's attitudes to what they read that need to change, and frankly I think this would be a good thing. The mainstream media may, overall, be truthful, but they're still deeply unreliable, and need to be watched almost as carefully as Mr Drudge.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
trust in the media (3.12 / 8) (#53)
by Jim Madison on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 07:45:58 PM EST

corporate media sucks. drudge report, for the most part, sucks. why? both kinds of media are being used for manipulation, and that is seriously undermining their credibility and citizens trust in those sources.

Trust is tough to build. sites like k5 (e.g., where content is user-generated and user-edited) are really the beginning of something awesome, something that will represent the intelligence and the diversity of its participants rather than sucking up to the lowest common denominator.

k5 has the ability to break news on Internet time like drudge, but the open editing system holds the posters accountable for fact checking, etc, by a much wider group than a corp media's staff. The novelty of drudge will wear out--he is not dangerous in the long-term and neither is corporate media in its current, broadcast form. (I reserve judgment about orwellian mass meda.)

This is only the beginning. Growth is slow at first, but maintaining editorial integrity is the lasting value of the medium.

Got democracy? Try e-thePeople.org.

Impressions (2.66 / 9) (#54)
by antizeus on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 07:48:44 PM EST

Before I begin, let me state that I've seen Matt Drudge's site exactly once, and didn't think it was all that interesting. Let me also state that I am not a Republican. Now, here are the various thoughts I had when reading this piece:

  • This person is about as long-winded and repetitive as Jon Katz.
  • I would not be surprised if this person has an interest in promoting "traditional" journalistic entities, for example being a big stockholder of, or an employee of, such entities.
  • This person likely has strong left-wing biases, and probably wouldn't bat an eyelash if a someone similar to Matt Drudge were digging up dirt on Republicans.
Thos last two are, of course, speculation.
Oh Please (4.33 / 3) (#56)
by Anna Marie on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 11:09:44 PM EST

Matt Drudge dug up the Bush abortion story and printed it, he doesn't only dig up manure on Democrats.

I miss the days when journalism meant something, like when the press never showed that FDR was in a wheelchair, etc.

If the author has left wing bias, so be it, it's in the op-ed section....

[ Parent ]
Beneficial, not damaging (3.44 / 9) (#55)
by Aldis Ozols on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 09:14:11 PM EST

Tewl's article echoes the criticisms of Drudge that have been made by the mainstream media. In fact, it seems a mere rehash of the line of anti-Drudge propaganda that is increasingly becoming evident in mainstream "journalism".

This antipathy to Drudge isn't surprising. The traditional media have wallowed in their ability to spoon-feed the public with whatever dreck they've decided we ought to believe in today. The traditional media help their government mates by conveniently ignoring those things they find inconvenient. Drudge threatens this undemocratic privilege.

But it's not just Drudge who threatens these vested interests -- it's all of us who have access to the Internet and the uncensored communication it brings.

Editors are not our friends -- they have proven time and again that they are our enemies. Just look at the way they cover the War on Drugs for an example. Or the War on Hackers, for that matter.

There's any number of topical issues on which the media are very careful only to show one side in a favourable light, and I'm sick of them. I avoid CNN and read the Drudge Report daily, simply because experience has convinced me that Drudge is, on average, more accurate.

The Matt Drudges of the world are a boon to civil society, because they expose things that the mainstream media and governments would prefer to keep hidden from us. An attempt to discredit such commentators without similarly criticising the mainstream media should be viewed with suspicion, since there are vested interests who would prefer that dissenting voices not be heard.

if it were illegal for idiots to reproduce... (3.87 / 8) (#57)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 11:15:04 PM EST

...you'd have to castrate half the country. Matt Drudge single-handedly was forcing top news sources to report on news that dripped of tabloid-ish information.

No, Matt Drudge enabled "top news sources," that is the fabulously dishonest and bottomlessly money hungry infotainment industry, to broadcast that variety of scandalfax which notoriously brings in the heftiest advertising revenue, before their very dream audience, the empty eager eyes of a whole nation's fools, helplessly titillated by softcore porn into a hypnotic daze. The mass media biz love love loved it and so did their drooling audience.

So what do you suggest? Just for the record I loathe Drudge (he's a Republican, besides no matter how deeply Prez Bubba disgusts me, Madman Starr's Semengate, which Drudge so crucially abetted, was a hundred times more revolting) but I fear any new mechanism, whatever it is, that you build to make Matt Drudge shut the fuck up will be used to silence me and whoever reads this as well. I hate to sound like a tedious old conservative but what's wrong with good old fashioned libel law? Let this moron Drudge step into another bogus Blumenthal story and the ensuing multimillion dollar lawsuit will polish him off. In fact I wouldn't be surprised, as successful as Drudge is, if there weren't people out there actually gunning for him; that is, manufacturing libels against themselves, anonymously forwarding these actionable lies to Drudge, and then waiting for him to publish them so they can sue him and thence retire, independently wealthy.

Anyway, there's nothing uniquely internet-esque about trash journalism, especially at election time. For example, do you go to the grocery store? (I understand that there are a few cities where you can shop via fax or web, so I asked.) Then during the recent election campaign, surely you enjoyed, without you having much of a choice reading-material-wise, the abominable Mr. Murdoch's degraded Sun's headline series, in three inch bold yellow and red ALL CAPS, about candidate Hillary's alleged GAY LOVE LETTERS. Dear me, this nasty little man really wants that tax cut. The point being that the Sun is printed on paper, cheap crappy paper at that.

By the way, in passing you mentioned the National Enquirer, but it turns out, hard though that may be to believe, that that particular organ is actually pretty good in the fact-checking department, even when compared to, say, the New York Times (e.g. Wen Ho Lee). Why? Another good old fashioned libel suit. It seems that a few decades back they published a piece about, I think it was Carol Burnett, the comic TV actress, alleging that she was a drunk or something like that. Most people ignored the trashy and factually dubious Enquirer when it published rumors against them, but this libelee went to court. The Enquirer's defense, in part, was "We're not serious journalists, instead we present a staged journalism-like entertainment event for the amusement of readers who know it's all fake" but the court didn't buy that and nailed them for tens of millions of dollars (which, back then, was a pretty sizable pile of cash, not just lunch money like it would be these days, sheesh you kids these days...) Well, since then, I have it on sound Hollywood insider authority (no kidding!), that that fluff the Enquirer publishes, movie stars's lives, their dirty laundry, crap like that, is at least true fluff.

I hate to end on a gloomy note so here is today's Silver Lining! As one gets older one's eyes generally get shot to Hell, mine at least. Now you probably find that whenever a bunch of text in a language you know floats in front of your eyes, you take it in, without there being any positive volition on your part. Kind of like listening, where it is sometimes very difficult to ignore someone talking, even if, for example, you're trying to calculate something and you actually want to ignore their speech but you can't.

So anyway I enjoy shopping at the grocery store and I probably wouldn't shop on line even if I could (wouldn't, for example, want to buy fish with at least looking at it first) but going through the checkout line is always a trial, because I really don't want to know about, for example, Bruce Willis's post-divorce life (didn't even want to know that he had got divorced, or married.) or Vanna's AIDS terror (that trash is particularly aggravating as I knew a fellow, a real-world person, who died of it). Well it turns out that these days if I have the presence of mind to yank off my eyeglasses just as I wheel up to the rubber conveyor belt, everything all blurs nicely out and I can painlessly ignore every bit of that tabloid shit! Yes, decrepitude is good!

At any rate, the Drudge Report, together with all the train of "top news sources" which follow it, are even easier to avoid watching than the tabloid covers in the checkout line are for a tired old loser with lousy eyesight. You have to eat, so you've got to go out grocery shopping. You don't ever have to turn your TV set on.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.

Censorship: sticking head in the sand is GOOD ??? (3.66 / 9) (#58)
by redelm on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 11:19:03 PM EST

Oh, boo hoo! Matt Drudge reports rumours without confirmation. His credentials are dubious. It will _ruin_ civilization!

I smell the whine of a big-media lover. Or clueless newbie that should be kept away from USENET lest s/he suffer apoplexy.

GROW UP! All media reports are questionable. Even the London or New York Times. Everybody makes mistakes and I've seen enough cases from the inside of old-media totally misunderstanding the issues.

Frankly, I'm more worried about what the old-media FAIL to report than any errors Matt and his ilk make. These "non-mistakes" can be much worse.

Intelligent people judge the info along with it's provenence. And act accordingly. Or do you think people are so stupid as to be incapable of judging, and need you to judge for them? There's a word for that -- CENSORSHIP.

Warning: Sarcasm Ahead (3.87 / 8) (#60)
by vlnc on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 12:11:25 AM EST

The real problem is not Drudge. If he were not around, someone else would fill his shoes. The real problem is the freedom of the press. Only trusted news organizations should be allowed to report news.

Actually, major media is not so reliable (witness the early calls on the last election) and Drudge is right enough times to have some amount of credibility and that is why he is being attacked. I can't believe this made it to k5. Wait a minute, yes I do.

contadiction? (3.20 / 5) (#66)
by fantastic-cat on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 09:46:43 AM EST

"Only trusted news organizations should be allowed to report news" this doesn't seem like a free press to me, who should decide trusted publications, the government? They are likely to choose publications which will print their propaganda (which allready happens to a frighteningly large extent).

[ Parent ]
try, try again (3.50 / 4) (#69)
by vlnc on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 11:13:25 AM EST

the first part of my earlier post may have contained some sarcasm. ill try to make it clearer next time.

[ Parent ]
Ratings (none / 0) (#75)
by AEtherean on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:26:34 PM EST

I am amazed that this obviously misunderstanding post has a 4+ rating. The title of the original email is "Warning: Sarcasm Ahead," yet the highly-rated reply takes issue with what is obviously the warned-of sarcasm.

I can understand the mistake by the replier (sometimes I read too quickly myself), but I can not understand the rating. I think the rating system has become "how much I agree with this" rather than "how relevant and well reasoned is this."

(Even more amazing is that the follow-up post by the original author, clarifying the misunderstanding, currently has a 1.00 rating.)

[ Parent ]
Matt Drudge isn't The Evil himself (3.00 / 5) (#61)
by elpapacito on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:41:13 AM EST

Come on, this article makes no sense at all, yet it's
of the same kind of "witch hunting" articles related to

First, there is the basic defamatory attack based on
life of the target ; Matt worked at 7-11 and then a
CBS shop gift. "He work for McDonalds / 7-11" is a
common harsh joke that's used to indicate one persons
poor education. WRONG. I met people with excellent
education, but very out of luck working in that kind
of stores.

Second, even if Matt is a k-12 dropout he's publishing
exactly what a bunch of people want to read, gossip
of all kinds with no real value ; that's because the
education level of many people out there , if not 80%
of world population, is extremely poor at best.

Third, Tewl uses the the standard "protect the
innocents" attack to make Matt look like the Evil
who tricks the poor kids into believing everything
he says. Tewl evidently implicitly agrees with me
that 80% of population believes anything because
of their less-then-k12 level education. This is
sadly true, but I don't believe that anybody could
act as a "censor" that feeds these poor brains with
info they can understand.

Last but not least, Druge is just like any other
tabloid which publishes a load of useless information
but he doesn't really add anything to the already
incredible amount of "background noise" generated
by Big Media Companies, which are extremely scared
by the FACT that he can produce news with very little
capitals investment, basically taking customers away
from them.

So if they can't beat him, Big Media Companies will soon
try to BUY him or just to imitate him, because imitation
is much less expensive then innovation.

God be blessed for the Internet, where anybody can be
a Matt Drugde with no need to lick somebody hole.

posting bug, fixed now (none / 0) (#63)
by rusty on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 06:15:07 AM EST

I just wanted to apologize for the screwed-upedness of that comment, and mention that the bug is fixed now. :-/

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Thanks :D (none / 0) (#64)
by elpapacito on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 09:04:42 AM EST

Thanks for the quick fixing

[ Parent ]
what he said... (none / 0) (#74)
by hurstdog on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 01:37:34 PM EST

I'd like to second that, except I wasn't the one that fixed the bug, I was the one that made it.. :-( /me hits self with the bug-test bat. I'll be sure to not do something like that again. Again, sorry to rusty and all for the horrible bug...

[ Parent ]
Longwinded, repeating and unfounded (3.20 / 5) (#65)
by pkej on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 09:40:30 AM EST

In the start I found the article okay, then, when I felt I read the same sentence the third or fourth time (and I'm not very tired at the moment either) I felt that this wasn't that great.

Finally, where is the point? As many allready have pointed out, where is the support for your central thesis, that Drudge is damaging society?

Isn't Drudge really an Icon for the American way? A small guy who can make is way and impact the society he lives in? Why are printed rumors worse than spoken? Why should powerful people's truths be protected from the public?

Drudge has shown that the small man isn't without power. He has built this up from the ground, without a lot of money or a large organization. That should inspire those detracting from his work to do the same, the way they feel it should be done.

I don't know Drudge, nor read his work, nor particularly like what I know about him and his work, but the effect it has had proves that it isn't without value, and it certainly isn't harmful as long as it makes people consider the current state of affairs which keeps the truth in the hands of megacorps.

A couple of more Drudges might in fact be a good thing.

One Drudge for the Megacorps,
One Drudge for the scientists,
One Drudge for the environmentalists,
One Drudge for the common man,
And Matt Drudge to rule them all...

Perhaps change is on its way again?

Great Advert (2.60 / 5) (#67)
by davidmb on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 09:58:59 AM EST

That story really makes me want to go and read the Drudge Report.

I do feel that tewl could have trimmed his/her story a bit though - I was falling asleep at the halfway point.
Internet is *bad* (3.20 / 5) (#68)
by AftanGustur on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 10:10:54 AM EST

Come-on, bad journalism has existed as long as journalism itself.

Bad tabloids with 100% bullshit stories (The SUN f.ex) still exist and publish without a caugh from anybody.

But now that Matt Drudge is doing something that the convential media wouldn't call "professional", it suddenly is *evil* ????

Come-on, it's just another form of Internet-phobia, isn't it ?

Addressing the core points (4.75 / 8) (#71)
by pkej on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 11:40:08 AM EST

The ease of which rumors might propagate the net is viewed as a problem by the establishment. It undermines their control of information, thus the power base on which they rest. Of course they are shaken by the democratization of news and rumor mongering.

Their defenses are two fold, money and law. Their amassed wealth can be used to outshout, buy out or litigating out any opposition. The law can be used to raise barriers of entry for the small guy. Or it can be used to litigate the living daylights out of the small guy (libel law).

The problem isn't that someone comes in on the playing field disregarding all written and unwritten rules, the problem is that the playing field is constantly stacking in favor of the existing teams (with capital). That it isn't totally closed is what Matt Drudge has proven.

One libel suit though, with the insane amounts awarded by insane jurors in an insane system (my personal opinion:), will wipe him out, and in a few months he would be forgotten.

That he writes under his own name, leaves him vulnerable, but it shows integrity and the will to stand by what he writes. It is quite different from, say, posting anonymous false stock rumors on a stock site.

The article is also the purveyor of an elitist stance 'scholars will never take him seriously'. That doesn't mean anything. As long as other media takes him seriously (by running stories because he ran them) he will have a 'power-base', which will give him credibility where it matters, in the public opinion.

Drudge might or might not check his sources, he might or might not make mistakes, but as far as I have gathered he has thus far retracted stories which were based on flawed sources as well as apologizing for them both on his site and in other media. (See the link in comment #31 to frontpagemag)

Finally, I'm not sure where I stand, I can see the bad coming from sites propagating untrue rumors. It can ruin the life of people. On the other hand, old media, has a lot of commitments, to advertisers, to owners, to politicians, to each other, to the people. Some commitments they admit (to the people), some they don't acknowledge (advertisers/owners), some they underplay (political), which leaves me with the belief that the current structure needs some checks and balances, but not in the form of government control.

Tewl, your piece has raised a good debate, which I think is a good thing. There are some editorial comments, though, which I think you should take to heart next time.

Insane Legal System (**Tangent Warning**) (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by AEtherean on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:58:59 PM EST

I absolutely agree that the sue-happy nature of today's legal environment is "insane," I just wanted to comment on "the insane amounts awarded by insane jurors in an insane system . . ." The reasoning for many of these enormous punitive awards (McDonald's coffee comes to mind) is that a "reasonable" award will not affect a multi-billion dollar corporation in the slightest. In the McD's coffee case, the plantiff only asked for $20,000 originally, but was awarded 2.7 million (later reduced) because 20 grand would not even make McD's blink (that's less than two days worth of coffee sales alone).

The problem with these punitive awards is that they encourage people to file frivolous lawsuits. I think this problem could be easily avoided by the donation of the "punitive" portion of the award to a relevant charity, rather than the plantiff (e.g. Burn-related charities in the McD's case).

[ Parent ]
Punitive damages (5.00 / 1) (#84)
by pkej on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 06:29:14 AM EST

I'm very pleased that you brought this up, because I see your point. What I don't see is why a single individual should be awarded more than a couple of million dollars.

Let me construct a scenario. A large auto-manufacturer knowingly lets a problem slide far too long. A person dies due to the problem, the manufacturer gets sued. The family wins USD 500 million.

Why should the family of the victim be awarded, say, USD 500 million? What if others die by the same error? What do they get? Do they have to take up the whole case themselves?

No, instead the damages awarded should hurt the company, but the proceeds should be set away as a fund for helping future or similar cases stemming from the original error.

Of course such funds needs to be protected from managers/lawyers who want to dillute its value because they are providing "valuable" services for the fund. They also need an expiration date, whith the money going either to a larger fund for research, public assistance for other victims of similar errors.

The point is to punish the manufacturer, without giving single individuals undue rewards, as well as protecting the money received from people/organizations/government wanting to dip into it.

Money from large punitive damage cases could be used to pay lawyers while fighting new such cases, thus getting around the problem of lawyers lining their pockets with large shares from such rewards.

Your charities are along those lines.

The large rewards for rather slight problems (like your coffee example) are also a problem. I mean, USD 20.000 for a coffee burn? Coffee is hot, some common sense must be attributed to the customer as well. If the coffee contained a contaminant which made him sick, then I would understand the case.

If you haven't de-iced your sidewalk, then you are negligent. If I sip a cup of coffee and it is too hot, then I should have waited. If the waiter tips the cup over me, due to tripping or something, the issue isn't clear cut. Clearly it isn't my fault, clearly I couldn't have done anything to avoid it. But is it McDonald's fault? Is it the waiter's fault?

I don't want to sound like I feel that big companies shouldn't be held accountible, quite the contrary they get too easy off a lot of things, but many cases involving "the little man" vs big company are frivolous, and sadly it seems that many of those actually get rewarded.

Most jurors, it appears, feel that big business should be punished as often as possible. That only leads to less freedom for common people, because each such precedent will actually open each and everyone for the same lawsuit in the future...

Instead one should hit really hard on things which matter, bad working conditions, not upholding laws, pollution...

[ Parent ]

Good Ideas (5.00 / 1) (#85)
by AEtherean on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 12:49:55 PM EST

I think most people would agree that large punitive damages are necessary in certain cases to send the message that this is something that needs to be addressed. That this is more than just a minor "cost of doing business" for your corporation.

McDonald's, to continue the example, would have never changed the temperature of their coffee had this case not occurred (there were 700 previous claims against them by burn victims). Although I really think the negative publicity was more effective than the money involved.

I also think most people would agree that victims rarely deserve millions upon millions of dollars in compensation (although I would not say never, the loss of a child due to wanton neglect would be an example).

Changes to the system like those we've proposed seem like common sense. I have to believe that someone has submitted these remedies in a more formal way at some point. Unfortunately, there's a great deal of money to be made in the current system, and that means change will be an uphill battle.

People so often blame human nature for problems like this. It is said that the problem is human greed, and if people would just stop being so eager to make an easy buck, the problem would go away. The problem won't go away. Human nature took quite a bit of time to develop, and it won't be wished away any time soon. For a society to thrive, it has to work with human nature. We need a system of checks and balances that tempers our primal drives. The same logic can be applied to politics, business, welfare, etc.

Since we've been using the McDonald's coffee case as an example here, I feel I should point out that the whole story is not well known. The coffee gave her third degree burns over 6% of her body (including her entire genital region), requiring skin grafting and debridement treatment. $20,000 would probably not have even covered her medical bills. If she deserved anything at all, she deserved at least enough to cover her medical bills. In the end, the jury awarded her $160,000 in compensatory damages (medical bills, pain and suffering).

A concise listing of the facts of the case can be found here.

[ Parent ]
Nice agreeing with you (+comments on human nature) (none / 0) (#90)
by pkej on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 06:55:10 AM EST

I would also comment on human nature, most people are in fact very satisfied when they have covered their basic needs and can go on with their lives without too much difficulty.

When people become insecure, either imagined or real dangers, they will act on their primal instincts. Injustice just rubs people the wrong way, and injustice is percieved in a different way by each person.

I might find in unjust that due to overfishing in Kenya local fishers are made poorer and a few large exporters very rich. The exporters (and the world bank financing them) might find it unjust to hinder "free trade".

Of course, with the Coffe case, in light of the facts you present, the jury was probably not right in giving the woman more in in compensatory damages (medical bills, pain and suffering), especially from what I know about medical costs in the US.

What happened to the 700 other cases?

Interesting link you sent, especially the "conclusion", where the fact of the matter is in fact obscured by secrecy.

[ Parent ]
What's wrong with the News (4.28 / 7) (#77)
by red on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:14:16 PM EST

Here's a site from a group called FAIR about what they feel is wrong with the News. It has some interesting information and links that seem relevant to this debate.

"Independent, aggressive and critical media are essential to an informed democracy. But mainstream media are increasingly cozy with the economic and political powers they should be watchdogging. Mergers in the news industry have accelerated, further limiting the spectrum of viewpoints that have access to mass media. With U.S. media outlets overwhelmingly owned by for-profit conglomerates and supported by corporate advertisers, independent journalism is compromised.
Ultimately, FAIR believes that structural reform is needed to break up the dominant media conglomerates, establish independent public broadcasting, and promote strong, non-profit alternative sources of information."


Media Bias (none / 0) (#89)
by Brandybuck on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 01:43:44 AM EST

I wonder what the typical Tory of 1775 thought of some of the newspapers being passed around in Colonial America. Most were certainly independent, aggressive and critical.

They were not unbiased! It was very clear which side they were on. Until recently in US history, the same could be said for most newspapers. Cities had two newspapers, one called the Republican and the other the Democrat. Then sometime in the middle of this century the media got the strange idea that they should be "unbiased".

Like "fairness", it's a nice idea. But the universe doesn't work that way. Everyone is biased. You just can't help it. And if you're a reporter or an editor, it will show in your work. I like listening to a certain conservative radio host, though I am not conservative. My brother asked me why I listened to that biased rubbish. So I asked him why he listened to his biased radio. His reply was "What? NPR isn't biased!" ...

The goal of the media shouldn't be unbiased reporting. That's impossible. But todays' newspapers, radio and television news outlets keep pretending that they're unbiased. Maybe they truly believe it. They should be watching the powers that be. Let the liberally biased reporters hang out the conservative politicians' dirty laundry for all the world to see. Let the conservatively biased reporters drag the liberal politicians through the coals.

Dump the unbiased facade and grow some cojones!

[ Parent ]

National Enquirer (2.33 / 3) (#78)
by GreenCrackBaby on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:35:38 PM EST

That story put me to sleep so I only had a chance to glance at a few of the comments so this may already be there...

The article seems to bitch and moan about how the internet is letting this kind of crap journalism spread. However, all you have to do is look at The National Enquirer for an example of conventional media that is spreading crap journalism. Here's a paper that has more readers than any other paper!

If this guy's reporting is so horrible eventually his stories will be put on the same level as those from the Enquirer. Once in a while there'll be a gem of truth in there, but for the most part intelligent people will stay away.

Simple matter (4.33 / 6) (#80)
by trhurler on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 08:59:26 PM EST

Damaging to society? Well, maybe a society of inbred morons, I suppose. Most people today consider the news media to be beyond reproach - that needs to change. Matt Drudge may well in fact IMPROVE matters by making people less blindly trusting of journalists. He's an idiot, sure, but he's an idiot who produces something a lot of people are eager to have. He's not trustworthy? Well, I suspect he probably generally believes the stuff he prints, but even if he didn't, what difference would it make? When you read something, if you aren't ALWAYS asking yourself, "what's the spin here?" then you're every bit as much the annoying fool as he is. It doesn't matter if the source is the National Enquirer, Matt Drudge, or cnn.com - you cannot trust anyone you don't really know, and you don't really know these people, much less the dynamics of the organizations they work within. You want a world in which there are simple rules and you can trust these "good guys" and can't trust those "bad guys?" Go watch lame made-for-tv movies or read fairy tales, because those are the only places a world like that exists.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

quantitative correction (3.00 / 2) (#83)
by streetlawyer on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 09:50:36 AM EST

When you read something, if you aren't ALWAYS asking yourself, "what's the spin here?" then you're every bit as much the annoying fool as he is.

Actually, it's a bit better than that; the average person is likely to be not much more than 25% as much of an annoying fool as Matt Drudge.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

You have GOT to be kidding. (2.66 / 3) (#86)
by seanmeister on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 01:59:57 PM EST

He publishes anything and stinks and adds to the public's discontent with journalists. The Internet has allowed for this to happen, to let gossip become news and is a threat to the society as a whole in that society has begun to distrust media and will seek new forms of news.

Yeah, ok, and the internet and Doom causes geeks in Colorado to shoot their schoolmates.

Let's see, if tewl had been around in, say, 1452, it could have gone like this...

He prints anything and stinks and adds to the public's discontent with the king (or whatever). The movable type printing press has allowed for this to happen, to let knowledge become accessible to every man and is a threat to the kingdom as a whole in that the people have begun to distrust the king and will seek new forms of leadership.

My god, man, if you don't like the Drudge Report, then by all means DON'T READ IT. Matt Drudge is hardly a threat to society - it's proabably a safe bet that a large majority of the population has never heard of Matt Drudge. But don't be a dubya and blame the internet. The same internet that enables Matt Drudge to publish his 'journalism' enabled you (tewl) to publish your long-winded 'essay'.

Or have I fallen for flamebait?

Simpsons (3.00 / 3) (#87)
by F'jord on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 11:18:35 PM EST

Wasn't the last Simpsons episode a parody of this. Homer publishing ground breaking stories on the internet. Eventually he just makes shit up, but was right about one of his stories. Then it turned into a parody of "The Prisoner".

Another view (3.66 / 3) (#88)
by rusty on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 04:50:18 AM EST

There's a really good article that takes the other view of the whole Drudge phenom at OJR. Worth a read, if you're interested.

Not the real rusty
Matt Drudge and the Dissemination of Information on the Internet | 91 comments (77 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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