Volume 94, Issue 65
Thursday, January 18, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Drudge's book dreadful - Manifesto disappointing work
New American Library
Matt Drudge is famous, primarily for having helped almost take down the President of the United States.
What Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were to political print media, Drudge has been to the Internet's political coverage. The fact that he possesses these credentials makes his first venture into the world of print literature, Drudge Manifesto, so disappointing.
While dot-com start-ups crash to the ground around him, Drudge has become one of the first Internet celebrities. His no frills news site became the buzz of the media world when he broke the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton story. It was the biggest among a series of scoops which vaulted Drudge into the national spotlight.
In the mean time, he has built an unheard of following (over 2 million hits a day) and established his Drudge Report as "the" site on the net for information, gossip and dirt on national and world events, politics and entertainment.
The whole Drudge story is made all the more incredible when one considers the circumstances by which this site is maintained. Drudge's corporate headquarters consists of one average home computer, modem and a cat, all neatly held in a single-bedroom apartment. No editors, no staff, no owners, no publishers just Drudge, his cat and his endless list of sources and leaks.
This incredible tale of a small time, independent journalist, fighting the corporate greed and censorship of modern media mergers is the basis for the Drudge Manifesto. The story is certainly compelling and raises a number of important questions about media and society. But all the good this book could have been, is buried under Drudge's bravado and willingness to strike out at the enemies who have tried so hard to discredit him in the past.
He quickly proclaims the death of print which raises a number of obvious contradictions. First, his book is print (duh) and second, most of his stories come from the reporters and leaks of print media. Without the print and newspaper media, Drudge wouldn't exist. At one point, he even harkens back to days when he was just a newspaper delivery boy, when he would stop and read the paper from cover to cover, rewriting leads and headlines. But now his beloved print is dying, old and corrupt?
From there, Drudge's ego unleashes. After years of being the underdog, disrespected and attacked from all sides, Drudge uses this platform to blast just about anyone within reach. Politicians, journalists, CEOs and everyone else in between they all feel Drudge's wrath. While some certainly deserve a good tongue lashing, the constant rage becomes annoying and repetitive.
Drudge's last piece of hubris comes in the book's final section, in which he provides the reader with a sampling of the thousands of e-mails he has received from devoted fans. Was this done to impress us? Does the devotion of everyone from academics to the average joe justify Drudge and his work? Or is Matt Drudge more concerned with legacy than his reviled nemesis Bill Clinton ever was?
This maverick journalist for better or worse has changed the way the news media functions in the United States. This, combined with Drudge's everyman story and Web site, makes him a hero of sorts.
Now if only he could learn to let his work speak for itself.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000