The Drudge Report Drudge is the father of us all, and, subsequently, his site has become the road map of journalism on the Internet. If you don’t have a Drudge link, you can get tens of thousands of visitors per week (we do), but it’s a lot harder. What I like is Drudge’s unpretentiousness: the look of his site hasn’t changed much, if at all, ever since he first put it up. There have been no grand “redesigns,” no fancy graphics, no ever-more-complicated bells-and-whistles. It looks like the html equivalent of what we used to call a “carbonzine,” back in the old days when “fanzines” (amateur magazines) were printed on paper: banged out on an old Royal typewriter and reproduced by using several sheets of carbon paper. But there is nothing amateur about Drudge’s numbers: he gets millions of visitors (not “hits,” but actual visits) per day, while “professional” news sites run by suits and staffed by hundreds (if not thousands, in the case of Salon) don’t even come close. The reason: his idiosyncratic mix of the tabloidal and the serious. If war is coming in the Middle East, you’ll definitely read about it on Drudge first (although Antiwar.com might beat him out by a few seconds), and if there’s a sex scandal involving the Powers That Be, you’ll get all the dirt there, too. The man writes a good headline, and as for his choice of stories: if you see it on Drudge, chances are that this is what people are really reading about. Of course, as to whether that’s because of where it’s posted, or because that’s what they’re really interested in, is hard, these days, to say: and that is one measure of his amazing and well-deserved success. “Mainstream journalists” have nothing but hatred and contempt for Matt Drudge so you know he must be doing something right.
THE WORLD OF WORLDNETDAILY
If anyone is even trying to fulfill the true potential of Internet journalism, it is Joe Farah’s WorldNetDaily. To a large degree, Farah has managed to succeed: aside from having a great selection of links, his WND team’s original reporting on the infiltration of CNN by US military “interns,” and other scoops, have made his site one of the brightest stars of Internet journalism. The commentary section is tilted toward the conservative-libertarian side of the spectrum, but it is broad enough to include voices from the left and ideologically idiosyncratic sites like Antiwar.com. Foreign policy news usually gets a good slice of bandwidth, but lately has taken a dive in quality due to the Hal Lindsey-pro-Zionist-Christian “End Times” spin put on WND‘s Middle East coverage. Give it a break, guys. In addition, if their columnist J.R. Nyquist is an “expert” on Russia, then I’m Henry Kissinger. But don’t let this keep you away: it’s well worth a daily visit.
WIRED INTO THE WIRES
The major Internet-oriented wire services AP, Reuters, and Agence France Presse each have their own peculiar flavor: I learned during the Kosovo war that, in terms of its international coverage, the Associated Press is for all intents and purposes an adjunct of the US government, and often merely transcribes the statements of government officials rather than covering their actions. I like Reuters because they seem to keep stuff on longer, and their pieces tend to be big on background. My favorite, however, is AFP: there is no country too obscure but that it hasn’t been covered by Agence France Presse: those guys are everywhere, and the “spin” is decidedly European (i.e. independent). AFP reports are generally detailed, filled with juicy quotes, and are updated continuously: they are also big on covering the internal political situation in various countries. UPI is no longer a major news service, but can be useful in garnering news and “spin” from the Moonie-Washington Times wing of the Republican Party. There is no comparable left-wing “agency” newsite, just as there is no left-wing version of FreeRepublic, a pattern that illustrates something important about the nature of the Internet and the American political landscape but that’s another column.
Overseas news is a huge category, and there is no way to do justice to this subject except by examining the Sources page of Antiwar.com, and sampling for yourself the wide variety of interesting sites that might give you a different perspective on the news. Here are some of my old regulars: I love the (UK) Telegraph, not only for its determined Euro-skepticism they had great coverage of the Euro-tax protests but also for its wonderful custom of listing previous stories on the same subject at the bottom of each and every news story, all dated and in chronological order, no less. This is a wonderful boon to researchers, and I don’t know of any other British paper that does it.
TOO BAD ABOUT THE INDEPENDENT
My British favorite used to be the Independent they were virtually the single antiwar voice in Britain during the bombing of Yugoslavia, and backed this up with plenty of good reporting. After the war, however, they went through a “redesign” even though there was nothing wrong with the original format and the results were predictably disastrous. While the site looks snazzy, with its graphic background of sculptured curves in bright two-toned color, the organization of the news is very poor: they do it by region, and they keep stories on forever, which means you have to scroll all down the page, past whole continents that don’t really matter (that day), all the while looking at dates and the font is 8-point eyestrain! This is really a shame, since the Independent does some of the best Middle East reporting around All hail Robert Fisk! Banzai! and we run a lot of their stuff.
A SAD FACT
Compared to any American paper, of course, the worst British tabloid is far more interesting and informative and more free to break certain politically correct taboos than most major news sources in the United States, any one of which makes even a relatively boring and prosaic British rag say, the Guardian into an interesting read for an American. During the Clinton years, you couldn’t know the truth about a whole range of subjects if you didn’t read the British press, and I’ll let my readers draw their own conclusions about that rather sad fact.
MIDDLE EAST SOURCE
Since the Middle East is in the news lately and likely to achieve even more prominence in the weeks and months ahead, what with Israel’s War Party in the drivers’ seat here’s a brief rundown: Ha’aretz, the Israeli daily, is an island of reason, editorially, in a stormy sea of religious and nationalist fervor, and their op ed page is a good source for rational commentary. MiddleEastWire.com is a professional news operation, with a pleasing and well-organized format to match their comprehensive country-by-country coverage. For the Arab view of things, check out MediaMonitors: some of the articles need more careful editing, but this new site is promising.
I’ISLE DE FRANCE
For some reason, the French sites are all in French, with a pointed lack of English translation. While they may be making a valid ideological-cultural point (why shouldn’t those frogs resent the dominance of English as the global lingua franca?) this means I can’t recommend any French sites which is the way, apparently, they would rather have it.
DE-SLANTING THE NEWS
For news and views from the former Yugoslavia, go to Serbianna.com, a well-designed site (updated pretty regularly) that will get you past the generally slanted anti-Serb reporting afflicting most American and British news on this subject. The Serbian Unity Congress has a great news page, but the way their front page is set up its location is very obscure. Go here for a good pick of news and views.
MY FAVORITE LEFTIE
Aside from hard news, the commentary section of my collection of bookmarks is naturally tilted quite far to the right, but my all-time favorite commentator is a leftist the incomparable Alexander Cockburn, whose Counterpunch site is updated fairly regularly but you really ought to subscribe to his excellent newsletter, of which only some excerpts are posted and whose New York Press column is always a must-read. (Unfortunately, the clue-less editors of the Nation don’t make his column for that magazine available on the Internet). He’s my kind of leftie a man who can take out after professional left-wing witch-hunters like Morris Dees, and expose the inner rot of the Clintonian Left with entertaining glee.
MOST POLITICALLY INCORRECT SITE
The most politically incorrect site on the Internet, and one of the most well-done, LewRockwell.com has recently had the honor of being attacked by the newspaper he once characterized as the “War Street Journal” for daring to take on the sacred cow of Lincoln: one would think that, given a basic knowledge of the Great Emancipator’s depredations against the First Amendment, and habeas corpus in effect, the imposition of a virtual dictatorship during the Southern War for Independence would make a critical look at him entirely uncontroversial. But that’s only if you were a time-traveler from, say, the year 1984. Today, one is attacked by alleged conservatives! for daring to question one of the chief icons of American statism. It won’t be long, now, before it becomes a thought-crime on the Right to criticize Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In any case, one of the sites I go to every morning, first thing, is LewRockwell.com: and the good news is that he has a whole bunch of young new writers who are spirited, prolific, and, in the case of Jeremy Sapienza, uniquely talented. Rockwell has the so-far-as-I-can-tell unique talent of writing headlines that sum up not only the content of the article, but give the reader his own spin in a marvelously succinct and witty manner.
I USED TO LOVE LUCY
I used to go to Lucianne Goldberg’s five-day-a-week column on her site, Lucianne.com: it has a great format of short, punchy paragraphs, each devoted to a juicy news tidbit, usually some kind of trashy gossip but often items of somewhat greater significance than Linda Tripp‘s latest travails. Yet she hasn’t adapted well to the end of the Clinton era, and her relentless focus on all-things-Clinton amounts to a constant rehash of yesterdays news. Another downside to her site: nothing is archived. Don’t bother, until she snaps out of it.
SULLIVAN AND REESE: OLD RIGHT MEETS NEW LIBERTARIAN
I may be unique in that two of my favorite commentary sites are Charley Reese’s Orlando Sentinel column, and Andrew Sullivan’s wonderful new site, Andrewsullivan.com. These two word scribes couldn’t be more different, temperamentally and culturally. Reese is a cantankerous Old Right kind of guy, rough-hewn and blunt in his language, and a cultural and political paleoconservative in the tradition of Mencken and Westbrook Pegler. His incisive, acerbic prose is a joy to read, although I think he’s gone soft on Dubya. Sullivan, on the other hand, is a cultural and political liberal (in the older sense), who writes for the New Republic (he is a former editor) and the (UK) Times, among other places. A British immigrant to America, Sullivan is Catholic, gay, and relatively conservative on economic and some cultural questions. His writing has the smoothness of one who thinks lucidly and therefore writes with unusual clarity. While his columns and other articles are posted, the main feature of Andrewsullivan.com is the “Daily Dish,” a running commentary on events and issues so well-written it is downright addictive. Here you can see the continuing evolution of the last honest liberal into a libertarian. (A note: There is a “lite” version, and a fancy version of his site: since I dislike bells-and-whistles, I’ve linked the “lite” version. If you like graphical histrionics, and have a fast Internet connection, go here and click on “heavy.”)
OH, NEVER MIND!
For commentary, I also recommend Etherzone, which always has something of interest, and FreeMarket.net, the premier libertarian news-and-commentary site, is an invaluable resource. (Although I never understand why they run only certain of my columns, and not others: I wasn’t surprised when they didn’t run the 100th “Pat Buchanan Is God’s Gift to Humanity” piece, but even some on foreign policy have failed to meet their standards: I remember one piece pooh-poohing the rising media hate campaign against Russia in particular, but, oh, never mind!)
THE BEST NEWS SOURCE ON THE INTERNET
I‘ve saved the best for last. I have written about FreeRepublic.com before, and specifically about the evil lawsuit brought by two of the three major centers of evil in the world of American journalism: the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. ( For the identity of the third, go here.) Founded by Jim Robinson, of Fresno, California, as a conservative alternative to the corporate posting boards set up by Compuserve/AOL/, FR is a phenomenon that demonstrates the enormous political potential of the Internet. Back in the early days of the Web, the “hall monitors” who patrolled the corporate-sponsored bulletin boards were quick to censor even the least expression of conservative sentiments, especially where it involved criticism of Bill Clinton. Angered, Robinson, a computer specialist who is confined to a wheelchair, started his own news site. Since running up the flag in the mid-1990s, Robinson has garnered more than 50,000 registered users who post articles from some media source and then engage in a running “thread” of commentary on it. Traffic on his site is quite heavy, at times, and I’m amazed that Robinson has been able to keep it all going with relatively few glitches and little downtime. (Maybe Californians should turn their electrical grid over to him.)
Robinson has created a virtual community, one that is taking on increasing visibility: we all remember the “Sore/Loserman” posters that turned up during Al Gore’s coup attempt, and the unprecedented conservative-Republican mobilizations that did much to turn Gore back from the gates of power these things originated on FreeRepublic, not in the offices of the RNC. The Other Side is quite well aware of this, and a concerted campaign to destroy the premier conservative site and the premier news site on the Internet has been going on for what seems like years. First there was the smear job run by the ultra-liberal Salon in coordination with Lucianne Goldberg, a New York literary agent known as the “Bag Lady of Sleaze,” who had some role in L’affair Lewinsky: Robinson “let all the Y2K, gun-nut, Jew-baiting crazies take over and flame the plain-old conservatives,” screeched Goldberg, as she split from FR and set up her own site. She and her coven of disaffected camp-followers were cited by Salon as sources for charges that sound like a prelude to the Southern Partisan-ization of John Ashcroft: racist-extremist-homophobic, you name it, according to Goldberg and friends there was hardly a rule of political correctness that Robinson and the “denizens” of FreeRepublic failed to violate.
GOOD NEWS FOR SAN FRANCISCO RENTERS
It was a flat-out lie, and it didn’t work. In spite of Salon‘s gleeful prediction of the site’s coming demise “Sources with access to Free Republic’s traffic data say visitors and page views are down by at least half from their peak a year ago,” they gleefully reported in 1999 FreeRepublic prospers, while, today, Salon‘s stock has dipped to all-time lows. With more than half the Salon staff cut, a sudden uptick in the number of empty apartments in San Francisco’s tonier neighborhoods has reportedly caused a small downturn in the city’s rental market. Tee-hee.
We literally could not do our work at Antiwar.com without the invaluable service provided by FreeRepublic. As Bill Clinton was raining bombs down on the former Yugoslavia, the “Freepers” (as fans of this site call themselves) were collecting, collating, and culling the best, most accurate (and interesting) news and background information on the subject, an effort that thoroughly exposed Clinton’s war for the criminal aggression that it was and we couldn’t have covered it as well without their invaluable help. Their Foreign Policy section always has the latest, and is filled, in addition, with interesting items from overseas and specialized sources that makes it a virtual smorgasbord for news aficionados FreeRepublic has survived, and prospered, while its detractors have fallen on hard times. Goldberg set up her own site, Lucianne.com, that used to be interesting I had Goldberg’s dishy column of ‘hot links’ bookmarked, for a while but they post almost no foreign policy news, and, indeed, news that doesn’t come out of New York gets relatively short shrift. If you want to read the entire New York Post online, why not go to directly to the source?
But while Jim Robinson’s creation is a magnificent achievement, the Powers That Be aren’t about to let it stand. The Washington Post/Los Angeles Times lawsuit is a looming threat: the bad guys won the first round, garnering a $1,000,000 judgment against Robinson for “copyright infringement.” (In spite of the fact that plenty of left-wing and academic sites reprint their stuff without links, and without lawsuits.) You see, the corporate masters of our fate don’t care if something like hip-hop music, or the complete works of Britney Spears, is freely available over “Napster” they’ll gladly buy it out and reward its founders with bundles of free cash because they want to promulgate their trash far and wide. But one thing they don’t want to broadcast far and wide is universal unfiltered access to the news. They also don’t want the full record of their spin, distortion, and downright lies to be widely available. That monopoly they want to preserve, and they are using every legal means to do it. Don’t let them: contribute to the FreeRepublic defense fund.
SHOW ME YOUR BOOKMARKS
This column is already far too long, and I haven’t even put in the links yet! So please forgive me if I left out a good site: I know I’ll think of it in a minute, but then you’ll no doubt write in to tell me how much messed up. However, don’t get all in a lather about it, because I’ll be doing these review columns every so often, and I can atone for my sins then. In the meantime, to paraphrase Ayn Rand on the subject of sex: show me a man’s bookmarks, and I will tell you his philosophy of life.