"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 18 September 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run C


[short and quick, i'm running late!]

In much the same way a stopped

watch can be right twice a day,

Suck's errors often reveal the

relative nature of truth. (Or at

least that's what we tell the

lawyers.) Last week, we

regurgitated a rumor about

Michael Kinsley's move to DC -

mainly as an excuse to make a

joke about how no one would

really notice. Imagine our

surprise, then, when a certain

highly placed source at

Microsoft was so broken up about

our corollary evidence (that

Slate only gets 100,000

pageviews a week) that he rang

us up to suggest Suck check out

Slate's "Webhead" column of last

month, which posited Slate

served 90,000 pages a day.

That'll teach us to trust Josh

Quittner, we thought to

ourselves. "Sorry," we told the

source. Sorry? the source huffed;

sorry wouldn't cut it, he said

and urged us to run what he

quaintly termed a "retraction."

He added that "I await a

correction and an equally candid

piece in Suck detailing its

traffic." So we asked Josh

Quittner what our traffic was;

123,000 pageviews a week, he

said. Then again, you know how

reliable he is. Still , we felt

awful for having misjudged the

ezine's middling success, so we

did g'head and "retract."


[i'm going to a class in Berkeley]

But that was before we realized

these urgent emails and

plaintive phone calls were all

part of an ingenious guerrilla

marketing campaign, one in which

Slate's conned The Washington

Post into covering its server

errors and duped even us into

lobbing eyeballs in its

direction. A devious strategy

and somehow familiar ... seeing

as how Kinsley told the

Financial Times last week that

"the most serious threat to

Slate" comes from "publications

like Suck, a webzine that is

opinionated, hip, concise, and

lacking the conventions of

traditional publishing" (like,

say, fact-checking) perhaps we

should be watching our backs. In

fact, we could swear we read a

crack joke there just last



[argh! that was my boyfriend on the phone...onhis way]

With a cover showing Steve Case

looking like a low-rent Doc

Octopus and a story containing

sentences like, "Case was

operating with a bit of screwy

good luck and the market savvy

that comes from hard knocks,"

Time is now officially the

news-weakly of sad-sack

rehabilitation. Steve Jobs had

to wait years for his return to

favor; Case just a few months.

Expect Gil Amelio as Man of the

Year. To every put-upon

tech exec with nothing to offer

but a new angle, the spin-dizzy,

feature-happy media cycle is

just another tool to get the

backlash's backlash up and

running. Unlike, say, your



[i'll tell you about the class, laaater...wink]

While both MSNBC and Ziff-Davis

Television were slow to make an

official statement regarding the

fate of The Site, the fact that

no one had actually noticed that

the show had stopped airing

until various news sources began

reporting its demise seemed like

confirmation enough of its lack

of an immediate future. If

Ziff-Davis' plans for an entire

channel of tech TV pan out, it

seems a good bet that The Site will

resurface, but in the meantime,

everyone's wondering what's

going to happen to the show's

more memorable personalities.

Plug-and-play host Soledad

O'Brien is no doubt already

entertaining myriad offers: What

TV news show wouldn't benefit

from her perfectly modulated

news-you-can-use demeanor?

Animated annoyance Dev Null will

probably have a harder time

securing a new gig; we predict

he'll soon be Bobbitting as a

virtual barker for various

cutting-edge cyberporn

enterprises. And Cliff Stoll?

Perhaps the mediaphobic

squirmudgeon will take this

opportunity to abandon his

career as a telepundit

altogether, and simply devote

more time to pursuits with a

higher degree of tactility, like

planting flowers and rubbing

scratchy things. One can only


courtesy of the Sucksters

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