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April 25, 2005

Drudge Jumps the Shark

Sad but true:

"For some reason the media elites aren't as hostile to me," Drudge says. "It makes the job easier. In some ways it makes it less controversial."

As he approaches his 10th anniversary as an online clearinghouse for forthcoming news stories, unreleased books, tabloid yarns, Hollywood chatter and unconfirmed, sometimes bogus, rumors, Drudge, 38, is now treated more as an amusing diversion than a threat to journalistic integrity. The white-hot debate these days is over the role of bloggers, whom Drudge says dismissively he doesn't bother reading.

Has the quirky kid from Takoma Park become an appendage of the media establishment he once tormented, a '90s relic eclipsed by smarter and more provocative online writers?

Drudge complains about new sites that are "all glib, all mockery."

I don't read as many blogs as I should, but that's not me being dismissive, that's me being lazy and having other things to do. But Drudge seems to take it as an affront that others dare to encroach on his game.

Give the man his props-- he invented the game. But those guys from Indiana invented basketball, too, and that doesn't mean they are basketball.

What annoys a lot of bloggers about big bloggers is that some big bloggers get massive traffic chiefly because they get massive traffic -- in other words, once you're big, you stay big, just because everyone knows you and everyone looks to you, based on your size and influence, to drive the day's debate. In that respect, Instapundit is like the New York Times-- just as the NYT determines largely what will be on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and even Fox, Instapundit determines, or at least strongly influences, what the blogosphere will be chattering about any given day.

Which is not to say that Instapundit isn't a good blogger. (Just as the NYT is still a good newspaper, despite its now out-of-control bias.) Sometimes I'm a bit chagrined at how many damn important stories Instapundit links in one day. But I'm saying that a good portion of Instapundit's hugeness derives from the fact that he's already huge-- if another news-aggregator suddenly got huge, like say Memeorandum, then Memeorandum could easily displace Instapundit as the blogosphere's NYT.

And this goes double for Drudge, who has far less analysis on his site than any other blogger, even those who are primarily linkers. Yes, Drudge has a certain appealing personality that comes through by his story selections and his headlines and such, but it's hard for me to believe that people are reading Drudge for the idiosyncracies of his headlines or obsessions with HELL STORM 2005 and the goings on at Disney. Drudge is read because Drudge is huge, and if you want to know what everyone's talking about, you check out Drudge.

I will say that I've been planning a news-posting site to take on Drudge, a hybrid of Drudge and Lucianne.com, but as of yet we haven't gotten it off the ground. It would take years to put a dent in Drudge, and much longer than that to actually compete with him as a distant second, which is part of the reason I'm not more interested in the project; still, Drudge ought not to get a big head about things.

No offense, Drudge, but as the NYT is legacy mainstream media, you are largely legacy blogosphere. It's not that you're not good; it's just that your continuing success has less to do at this point with how good you are and more to do with the fact that you do continue to be successful.

And as for why I say he's jumped the shark: Well, when you start getting hubristic, it's never really a good omen. Part of Drudge's appeal was that he was an anti-media, but as he becomes more acceptable media, he loses that cache. The blogosphere is all about alternate voices and a certain Ramones-like do-it-yourselfism; the more Drudge pimps upcoming movies through "exclusive leaks," the less anti-media he is and the more establishment media he becomes.

And on hubris: Philip Michael Thomas -- "Rico" from Miami Vice -- gave an interview in which he said his mantra was "Emmy, Grammy, Tony, Oscar" -- the awards he was quite sure he would soon be winning -- and then said one of the most hubristic and bizarre statements I've ever read: "I am Christmas."

And within a year we never heard his name again, except as the punchline to a joke.

Drudge, you're many things, but you're not Christmas. Beware the cautionary tale of Philip Michael Thomas.

The Huffington Challenge Update: Lord All Mighty, if there's one person I wouldn't want to see take down Drudge, it's Arianna "I'm so wicked-smart I married a gay guy" Huffington.

Still, she hired Andrew Breitbart away from Drudge -- Drudge's researcher, I think, the guy who would comb through the wires to find all those cool news stories -- and Quentin Tarantino was just never the same when Roger Avery left him.

Riehl World has the run-down on Arianna's latest attempt to annoy the rest of the country into a state of homicidal mania.

And He's Dissed Us Before Update: I never got around to linking this Times (UK) Online piece, in which Drudge opines:

"...“I’m a conservative and want to pay less taxes. And I did vote Republican at the last election. But I’m more of a populist.” ...“There’s a danger of the internet just becoming loud, ugly and boring with a thousand voices screaming for attention.” He is no fan of the blogging phenomenon (weblogs linking sites): “I don’t read them. I like to create waves and not surf them. And who are these influential bloggers? You can’t name one because they don’t exist.”

Sounds like Christmas-talk to me, Drudge.

Dude-- let's be honest. You're one or two cognitive steps above a mid-functioning retard. Do you really imagine no one else could do what you do?

If I took over the Drudge Report for a week, do you think anyone would notice the difference? I can type "DEVELOPING" or "IMPACTING HARD..." as well as anyone. And I've got no problems writing AOLTIMEWARNERCNNABCCBSNBCMSNBCMSFT or whatever the hell it is you're always writing.

I'd just have to practice headlines like "DOUSE THE MOUSE: HOUSE THAT DISNEY BUILT ON FIRE" or "FREAK: FROG HAS LARGER-THAN-AVERAGE GENITALS" and crap like that.

Thanks for that to RCL.


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posted by Ace at 10:54 AM

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