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Drudge to Art Bell Fans: Bait, Then Switch
1999-05-28 13:31:46

Jabber Streams
What? Now I need a REASON to yell at people?
-- Tjames Madison


The Internet made Matt Drudge into what he is today: a notorious and popular attack journalist with a following of thousands. After a series of bizarre events last night, though, a good portion of the Internet may want to break him.

Drudge left a large audience of Art Bell followers dangling from a hook last night after stirring up a breeze of innuendo regarding the popular talk show host all during the previous day. In one of his patented "XXXXXX EXTRAS XXXXXX," Drudge baldly reported that Bell would come clean last night on his "Coast to Coast" radio show as to the reasons behind his numerous disappearing acts of recent vintage, and broadly hinted that AIDS played a part in Bell's frequently discussed personal problems, either with Art himself or someone in his family.

But about the same time the radio show started, Drudge took the earlier report off his site and replaced it with a message that informed readers that Bell would not discuss the issue after all, and would leave it to "the press and others" to do the finding out. These informed others did not include Drudge, as became apparent when Bell fans took up on Drudge's invitation to meet on the Undernet IRC #artbell channel to discuss the situation.

For a couple of online hours Drudge sparred with Bell fans seeking clarification, consistently refusing to elaborate on his earlier report, still dropping hints here and there, but mostly responding in breezy ALL CAPS harangues to detractors who questioned Drudge's journalistic credibility. That the chat was confusing and somewhat pointless was a given, considering the nature of IRC and the fact that the channel was bursting to the seams with dozens of users, all tossing unmoderated question upon question onto the hapless muckraker, who responded with a series of meek defensive swats until the bulk of his opponents grew bored with their captive prey and wandered off to download pornography somewhere else.

Meanwhile, Bell's people were busy uploading the contents of his $60 million lawsuit against "cyberstalkers" David John Oates and Robert A.M. Stephens to Bell's website (see our earlier report), while Bell himself muttered darkly about character defamation by bad people on the Internet on his radio show, but refused to elaborate on said "personal problems" as promised by Drudge.

This turn of events has left many observers wondering exactly what sort of professional relationship Drudge has with Bell at this point, and whether or not the talkmeister is using Drudge's star clout as fodder and publicity point man for his big lawsuit against the two rival talkers.

As Drudge himself would say, "Stay Tuned"...

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.


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