The Emperor's New News

The Emperor's New News

The Emperor's New News

Political commentary and more.
Aug. 9 2000 10:03 PM

The Emperor's New News

I see that Newsweek fell for the aptly named Web site Pseudo.com, portraying it, its $20,000 skybox, and its panoramic Web camera as the cutting edge of Net convention coverage. The key sentence in Yuval Rosenberg's piece (titled "Pseudo.com and its rivals cast a new light on politics") was this one:

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Pseudo can't, or won't, say just how many people outside the convention hall were tuning in.

Following Kaus' First Rule of Journalism ("Always generalize wildly from your personal experience"), I would guess the answers to the implicit questions asked by this sentence are a) won't; and b) a number perilously close to zero.

As editor and sole employee of kausfiles.com, I recently appeared on a Pseudo.com Web cast. It was an enjoyable experience. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable. The studio was neat, with various young people diligently staring at various consoles. The host was charming. My site was duly plugged. We answered questions that seemed to come from the show's Web audience. Then I went home to await the avalanche of hits that would be sent my way by "the world's largest Internet video network," as Newsweek says Pseudo bills itself.

I checked the stats first thing the next morning. How many surfers did my server indicate were steered to me by Pseudo? Zero. Zip. Zilch. Goose eggs. ( Drudge, by way of contrast, sends me several hundred readers a week.) Later, I discovered that the one decent question asked me over the Web was in fact written in the back room by a Pseudo employee.

Maybe Pseudo will take over the world. But it sure looks to me like there's nothing there. Someday, I suspect, the rise and fall of "the world's largest Internet video network" will make a great New York magazine piece. And maybe the name itself is a sly way of warning people away. If so, it isn't working on the fawning print press. Perhaps they need to be more explicit, and call it Potemkin.com.

Kausfiles' pledge: We will never tire of Clinton Fatigue. A kausfiles reader writes: "Just because Al Gore might buy the CW about Clinton fatigue ... doesn't mean it's true." That is logically correct, but not very plausible. Gore has polls! And focus groups! They tell him and his aides whether lingering disgust with Clinton is a major factor in this election. Apparently it is, because Gore chose the one potential running mate who promised to defuse that threat. Bush obviously has similar polling data, or he wouldn't spend so much effort hanging Clinton around Gore's neck. The only realistic conclusion is that Clinton Fatigue is a non-pseudo phenomenon.