Pop Culture
Dec 19, 2008, 06:25AM

2008's Winners and Losers

And most importantly: which one is Alaska?

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Winner: LOLcats
While this list is in no particular order, LOLcats take the top slot, even though they were a late entry into the field. It's not that they're new—indeed, they've been plaguing my waking and sleeping hours for what seems like years now. But when Nobel laureate Paul Krugman put one up on his blog, the LOLcat reached a high-water mark. It is unlikely that trademark broken English will grace as high a peak as Krugman's blog. Well done.

Loser: The Drudge Report
Just to make one thing clear: Matt Drudge's blog is in no way obsolete. But this election cycle was propelled less by the infamous lo-fi wrecking crew website than it was by a broader base of bloggers. Drudge was simply not as spot-on inflammatory as it used to be. The man, I hear, is in semi-retirement—he doesn't need to throw elbows anymore. It is with both sadness and a sense of freedom that Drudge recedes in the greater bloviasphere.

Winner: The Anchorage Daily News

Newspapers don’t have a whole lot to be happy about these days. But at least one far-flung dead-tree rag got its five minutes of sunshine. Sen. John McCain’s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin turned the nation’s eyes toward that cold stretch of land, and in the process the amount of quotes, citations and links to the Daily News was probably more than the paper had ever before received.

Loser: Alaska
No, it’s not really about Palin (though she doesn’t help). It’s Ted Stevens. The fact that the state almost re-elected Senator Ted Stevens after being found guilty of felony charges is staggering—and more shameful than anything Palin did for the state.

Winner: China
More specifically, the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics.  Looking back, some of the performances were mind-boggling. The human-hydraulic-box thing is epic. Simply epic.

Winner: Geeky baseball statisticians
Nate Silver, founder of the political site 538, is the man. He does no original polling of his own, and yet by crunching the numbers gathered by scores of other sites he was able to predict the vicissitudes of the 2008 election better than anyone else out there.

Loser: Wedge politics
For anyone on the left side of the political spectrum, witnessing the vitriolic and vituperative politics of Sarah Palin (and John McCain to some extent) was as surreal as it was terrifying. It was difficult watching the conscious exploitation of race, gender and class politics. They’re not gone for good, but this election season they failed.

Winner: The New Yorker
It was a breath of fresh air when The New Yorker published that now-infamous cover simply because it was a ham-fisted reminder of how incendiary print publications can be. The notion of the cover, the front page and the above-the-fold are only somewhat recreated online. Print still has the historic front page, if little else.

  • Nice round-up, particularly about poor Alaska, now a laughing-stock, for better or worse. I do disagree about the comment on wedge issues. The Obama vs. Clinton primary campaign was one giant Wedge Issue. Who can forget Hillary knocking back shots with beer chasers in a lame attempt to win over white rural voters. There will be a break in politics—unless Rahm Emanuel has to walk the plank over the Blago eruption--but 21st century politics has actually increased the reliance upon wedge issues.

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  • I'd say Drudge was quite effective in the Primaries.

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  • Matt Drudge still has juice, and though his site, which was only "infamous" to some people, isn't quite as rambunctious in the past, it's still what millions upon millions of people go to first thing in the morning. You can't say the same about, say, the Huffington Post, Red State or Talking Points Memo.

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  • I was very shocked by the New Yorker firestorm. I was like, it's *The New Yorker* when has it ever been culturally relevant? But I think the New Yorker also wins because it's coverage post-cover was great -- and on the bailout it continues to be, on blogs, etc. -- and its endorsement of Barack Obama was the best I read. Period.

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  • I agree that Drudge Report is a loser this year, but I feel that it's because Matt Drudge has proven himself to be more of a clown than a journalist. His sarcastic juxtaposition of certain articles have left me saying, "Why?" For example, when Obama was named Time person of the year, he posted the link together with that artistic photo of Obama smoking a cigarette in his youth. And on top of that, he posted a link to an article of Bush saying that he "didn't sacrifice his soul to be popular." Stuff like that seems pretty transparent to me, and it just makes Drudge look like a spoiled little kid.

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  • I don't think Drudge altered his content this year; he's conservative generally, but more than that goes for the sensational. Like him or not, you have to give him credit for not only remaining financially solvent, but still thriving. That's a far cry from most of the media.

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