Monday, February 16, 2004

Did Drudge Defame?

So is Matt Drudge responsible for tarnishing a journalist's once-respectable byline? Arguably.

Consider this: Drudge directs his audience's interest towards a young female journalist, inferring she's involved with presidential candidate John Kerry. An online sharkfest ensues and now the Web is redolent with blogs and trashy news sites which mention her name only in this tawdry context.

Now, as the Columbia Spectator points out, a few weeks ago, if you googled her name you'd likely have received results which primarily included articles she'd written as a journalist with the Associated Press. Google her now and you're likely to receive a slew of results linking to bloggers and punditry describing her in less than savory terms.

Call it the Monicization of an innocent bystander.

It's not likely Matt Drudge will go to much trouble to clear her name. You'll notice he usually just links to the stuff he wants to sensationalize and writes an inflammatory paragraph or two if he absolutely has to.

As one Columbia journalism student, Saheli Datta, put it, "Okay, so I officially feel bad about my little contribution to the Google deranking of an admirable and once strong byline."

If only Matt Drudge felt the same way.

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