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  The Navigator: Believe It or Not
By Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 16, 1998

From the Drudge Report Web site

It happened again last Friday. Matt Drudge posted a tidbit on his Drudge Report Web site and set newsroom tongues wagging. "The NEW YORKER top job [vacated by Queen Tina Brown] may go to KNOPF editor-in-chief Sonny Mehta, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. The hire will not be announced until Monday AM, according to one inside source."

Sure enough. On Monday the announcement was made. The new New Yorker editor: David Remnick.

Can't win them all, Matt. But the Hollywood-based gossipmonger doesn't seem to care if he wins or loses. He just loves to play the game – even when it gets rough. Last August White House adviser Sidney Blumenthal sued Drudge for libel. You can follow the case, from the viewpoint of Drudge's lawyer, at a site called Blumenthal v. Drudge Update.

Love him or loathe him, Matt Drudge will go down as the first celebrity indigenous to the Internet. Granted he never could have become so famous without the amplification of newspapers, magazines and TV. But he was nobody before the Internet. And more important, he understands its power. He can massage the medium.

Truth be told, the Drudge site is understated. Besides an occasional incendiary headline or two and several graphs about the latest media noise, the page is just a glorified list of links to all kinds of media sites.

Yet a testimonial to Drudge's prominence are the sites that parody him. There's the Dredge Report and the Sludge Report, among others, but the most inspired knockoff is the Smudge Report.

The front page of the Smudge Report is full of direct slaps at Drudge's style: "Report Finds Many of the Fights on 'The McLaughlin Group' Are Staged!", "Ken Starr Indicts President for Not Paying Legal Bills Incurred From Defending Himself Against Ken Starr" and "Sen. Thompson to Hold Hearings on Booming Economy."

Smudge also is worth a pause because of its contentious and creative links. Gun Nut News, for instance, is a repackaged Yahoo! search using the words "shot" and "shooting." The result is sure-enough what Smudge intended.

Smudge is just one small voice but, as the original Matt Drudge told the National Press Club last month, "We have entered an era vibrating with the din of small voices. Every citizen can be a reporter, can take on the powers that be. The difference between the Internet, television and radio, magazines, newspapers is the two-way communication. The Net gives as much voice to a . . . computer geek like me as to a CEO or speaker of the House. We all become equal."

As a hundred flowers blossom, so far Drudge is the one that smells the strongest.

Linton Weeks can be reached at

mouse CLICK: Asia Travel International Ah, Uzbekistan, land of contrasts, perhaps best known for its earthquakes, sniper warfare, and high-intensity death sentences. But a choice vacation spot it is, according to this Web site, wherein are being raffled off two business class tickets to anywhere Uzbekistan Airways flies. Just fill in the blank that says "I want to visit Uzbekistan because ... " What's "true Uzbek hospitality" like? Well, according to the Web site, travelers should be willing to surrender their passports to hotel clerks for several hours of "registration," pay strangers for the right to photograph national landmarks, and put up with "minor gastric complaints." – Dan Pacheco

A Dog's Tale...
Just in time for National Hot Dog Day (July 22), the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council has gone online. One learns that baseball fans will eat 26 million hot dogs during games this year, enough to stretch from Yankee Stadium to Dodger Stadium. And correct hot dog topping etiquette, according to the site's czars, is to "always 'dress the dog,' not the bun."

Despite the ancient admonitions, the site includes a step-by-step guide to manufacturing sausages. Not for the weak of stomach, however, is the listing of 100 hot dog and sausage varieties. It includes jellied beef loaf, blood and tongue sausage, head cheese, macaroni and cheese loaf and the ever-enigmatic "luncheon meat."

There also are, ahem, links to federal food regulators. – Louis Jacobson

Depends on How You Look At It
My life was complete the day I discovered that the Flat Earth Society had made it online. Like other embattled groups, they have re-positioned themselves, adapting their message to a changing world. The Flat Earth Liberation Front Against Television (FELFAT) now is devoted to "fight the evil that has spoiled this once-great world, and to bring humanity back to the ancient utopian state which it deserves." No argument there.

Furthermore, FELFAT no longer believes that the Earth is flat. "We acknowledge the overwhelming circumstantial evidence that the Earth is currently round," they magnanimously declare, while still insisting that the Earth "was formerly, and is naturally, entirely FLAT." We fell so far from our utopian state, say the horizontal thinkers, because the "original flat Earth was confined, restricted and twisted into a perverse spherical shape by a conglomerate of TELEVISION BROADCASTERS in an attempt to realize their dream of TOTAL HUMAN MIND CONTROL." Can anyone argue with that? I thought not.– Dave Nuttycombe

Found something intriguing, improbable, insane or especially useful on the Net? Write it up and send it to Joel Garreau or Robert Thomason.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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