Jack Shafer, Slate's media critic, clicks on Gawker and Wonkette a dozen times a day but hates to admit it. He wishes the Nick Denton experiments in blogging for profit were, well, better. Some excerpts from his piece:
If you've yet to visit these blogs, imagine them as the twin offspring of a date-rape incident between Drudge Report and the original Spy magazine...
After several weeks of consuming every cartoon obscenity, bludgeoning wisecrack, and meta-knowing, callow riposte served on these two blogs, I've been asking myself: Are these blogs a part of the better world we hope to leave to our sons and daughters? Well, yes, if we intend for our children to grow strong from sucking bile instead of milk...
Why do Gawker and Wonkette leave me sick at heart? Because despite the demonstrable talent that goes into both sites, they insist on handing out rote poundings to their subjects with a monotonous sadism that makes few distinctions among worthy and unworthy targets. (The sites remind me of the TV channel depicted in George Lucas' THX 1138, which showed nothing but one man beating another. Great concept. Boring television.) I know Wonkette's palette contains more colors than just dull irony, that her enthusiasm for penis jokes cannot be as great as her blog suggests, and that she doesn't think the world is populated only by midgets. So why does she write this way? Are Ben "Boston's Bitch" Affleck, Paris Hilton, and Ethan Hawke all so contemptible that they deserve such ruthless Gawker scrutiny?
His bottom line:
I wish Gawker and Wonkette could be persuaded to slow down and think, to shoot for a less reflexive and more nuanced approach to people and ideas on occasion, to express a genuine enthusiasm from time to time, or at least bounce their manic energy off of somebody before posting. Their awesome productivity might suffer but they could still baste and barbecue most of the sacred cows that deserve it.
Until that day arrives, treat both blogs as you would a loaded staple gun. Instruments of fun, but best used with caution.