Michael Wolff, whose new, lascivious Rupert Murdoch bio The Man Who Owns The News has taken the New York media industry by storm, stirred up some social-networking class warfare in an interview Monday with BusinessWeek's Jon Fine.
"If you're on MySpace now, you're a (expletive) cretin. And you're not only a (expletive) cretin, but you're poor," said Wolff, whose previous book Burn Rate chronicled dot-com excess in the late '90s and who openly attests to hating the word "blog."
"Nobody who has beyond an eighth grade level of education is on MySpace. It is for backwards people," added Wolff, who is also the founder of Newser.
Fine pointed out, "If you are in a band, you are on MySpace. You have to be on MySpace. That's a powerful driver." He's right. "And second of all--if I am to accept your reasoning, even though I don't--as the success of The Sun (a News Corp.-owned British tabloid) will tell you, there are lot of cretins out there and you can make a lot of money off cretins."
Let's get past the language: MySpace did indeed start as a hub for independent music fans. Facebook began as an exclusive directory for Harvard students and expanded to the other Ivies before finally opening to the public. MySpace encourages glitter text; Facebook mandates that members must use their real names. So Wolff is alluding to a legitimate point, but he makes it in the bluntest of terms.
And as Fine notes, there's the money issue. MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe recently expressed concern about the site's revenue growth slowing down amid the recession, but MySpace is still the flagship property of the top destination for display ads on the Web--Fox Interactive Media. Facebook, meanwhile, is still seen as an experimental ad medium.
MySpace, additionally, has trumpeted the buying power of its members with the likes of a high-profile campaign by luxury jewelry brand Cartier earlier this year.
But I'll give Wolff some credit: he sure knows how to drum up controversy.