Chatterbox just finished reading Drudge Manifesto, co-authored by Matt Drudge and Julia “ You’ll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again” Phillips. What can you say about a book that falls short of the standards for factual rigor and elegant prose that readers have come to expect from the Drudge Report? (The Drudge Report, for those who haven’t seen it, is a Web page formerly dedicated to breaking news that lately has been dedicated to selling copies of Drudge Manifesto.) That it is a self-aggrandizing mess? That it reads like McSweeney’s, minus all traces of humor and irony?
You can say that it looks down on the very people it purports to celebrate.
The argument Drudge makes in Drudge Manifesto goes as follows: The Old Media are dead. They have been defeated by the Internet. And just in time, too, since the Old Media have corrupted themselves via conglomeration and shameless pursuit of the buck. Now anyone can be a journalist. Long live the Internet rebels, whom Drudge affectionately calls the Zeroes.
This formulation is at best a cartoonish exaggeration of reality–Drudge himself struck a distribution deal with America Online (soon to be hitched to the Old Media conglomerate Time Warner) to put food on his table–but let’s assume it’s true. Who are these heroic Zeroes that Drudge is celebrating? Although Drudge’s book contains a few disparaging references to other Web content sites–three or four put-downs of Slate, one or two of Salon, one each of the Onion, Inside.com, and MSNBC–there are no neutral or even (God forbid) complimentary references to any Web content sites other than, well, the Drudge Report. At this very moment, Web entrepreneurs all across America are doing the very thing Drudge celebrates. There’s Jim Romenesko of Media News, the media-gossip site. There’s Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News, the Hollywood-gossip site. There’s Slashdot, the techie site. There’s TheSmoking Gun, the document site. There’s Feed. There’s Suck. There’s … you get the idea. Drudge has a lot of comrades in his battle to overthrow the Old Media. But he’ll celebrate them only in the abstract. He rarely links to them, and he’d just as soon nobody knew they exist.